Revisiting Beamsley Beacon after Forty Years

Yesterday after ten nights at Domo CL we headed across the Pennines to Hall Croft CL situated between Ilkley and Addingham.  We haven’t visited this site before and it is serving as a stop off on our way further into the Yorkshire Dales.

In my late teens and early twenties we had family friends who ran a static caravan site alongside the River Wharfe in Addingham, Lynnie and I visited on one occasion but haven’t returned for over thirty-five years.  Staying here will provide an opportunity to revisit the area whilst adding a new site to our list of those visited.

From the site we look across the valley up to the summit of Howber Hill with Beamsley Beacon on top of it.  It is over forty years since I walked up to the beacon, on that occasion I was staying with our friends on Olicana caravan site and as I departed Phyllis and my mother instructed me to wave to them when I got to the top.  Sadly neither are still with us, but I think today I will walk up and give them a wave.

I leave High Croft CL and cross the entrance driveway to join a footpath running between a fence and hedge.

At a junction of paths close to the River Wharfe I turn left and follow the Dales Way, this route stays close to the river as it passes through a meadow.

On reaching Ilkley Road I turn right along the pavement, still on the Dales Way and follow the footpath sign to Addingham.

At a junction with Old Lane I turn right continuing on the Dales Way as the road hugs the river to reach Low Mill.  In 1787 John Cunliffe, a cloth manufacturer, and John Cockshott, a glazier and woolstapler, built a spinning mill besides River Wharfe. This was at the advent of the technology that allowed yarn to be spun more quickly by machines than by hand.

In 1826 it was the scene of a Luddite uprising when (hand) textile workers from Lancashire tried to sabotage the new machines they saw as a threat to their livelihood.

The mill fell into decline between 1831 and the 1850’s, but then fortunes revived and the mill became prosperous again.  After World War I the mill entered a partnership with a German company, Peltzers of Crefeldt, to weave velvet in the UK to avoid tariffs. But with the advent of World War II the German workforce was interned in the Isle of Man.

During World War II the mill was used for aero-carburetter production, with a 1,000 workers living in prefabricated housing in Ilkley.  Following the war the mill returned to textile production and finally closed in 2002.  The mill and surrounding area is now housing.

I follow the Dales Way through the village to reach Low Mill Lane, and follow this tarmac lane into Addingham.

In Addingham I stay on the Dales Way by turning right to join Church Street and keeping right to join Bark Lane.  Where the Dales Way turns off Bark Lane down some steps I stay on the pavement following the road to the junction with Bolton Road, I turn right and soon take a right fork down Mill Lane to reach the entrance to Olicana holiday park.

In the forty years since I was last here the place has changed considerably.  The old cottage has been converted into holiday cottages and the caravan site looks to be a major commercial enterprise.

It is a busy day with a lot of people about so I decide not to linger instead taking the footpath on the right to pass High Mill on the Dales Way.  As I recall back in the 1970’s High Mill was derelict but it has now been converted to housing.

This area I am walking through known as The Mill Close was given by John Crossley and Joshua Dawson to the Overseers of the Poor of Addingham in 1685-6.

The path follows the river to reach the suspension bridge over the River Wharfe; the current bridge replaced an original 1895 bridge that was washed away by a flood in 1935.

Following the clear footpath I pass West Hall and continue on to a minor road where I carry straight on and as the road sweeps to the left I take a public bridleway signed for Langbar.  This takes me uphill across a field.

After crossing a second field my route continues along a bridleway that is now a narrow track.

On reaching a minor road, Hardings Lane, I turn left and follow the road steadily uphill.  I stay on the road as it sweeps to the left with a signpost for Bolton Abbey, and then at a footpath sign on the right I leave the road to walk on to the edge of the moor.

This is open access land and there are a network of paths, I stick to the main well-worn route climbing steadily and heading through rocky outcrops.

As I near the summit I turn and can see the caravan well below at Hall Croft Farm CL, so I send Lynnie a quick text so she can get the binoculars out and see me waving.

On the summit there is a substantial cairn and an Ordnance Survey trig pillar, this is the 143rd I have bagged.

On the trig pillar there are two plaques, one explains that the large cairn is thought to originate from the Bronze Age and is a burial mound probably of a local chieftain.

The second plaque commemorates the crew of Avro Lancaster RA571, which crashed into the southern side of the hill on the 5th November 1945.  The crew were all members of the Canadian Air force.  Four of the crew; the Pilot Flying Officer Walter Fred Colney; Flight Engineer Sergeant Arnold Emerson Stinson; Bomb Aimer Flying Officer Wallace Ewing Lang; and Air Gunner Corporal William John Ellis were killed.  Five members of the crew survived the crash.

Resuming my walk I follow the clear path across Beamsley Moor in a northeasterly direction towards The Old Pike.

After passing The Old Pike I pass a boundary stone between Beamsley Moor and Langbar Moor, apparently the “B” on the side facing me indicates I am on the Beamsley side of the moor.

The next boundary stone is carved with the letters “LN”.

Staying on the track I am now heading towards Little Gate and pass a large rock used as a boundary stone.

Very shortly I pass another boundary stone carved “LN”.  I cannot recall seeing so many boundary stones within such a short distance.

On reaching Little Gate I pass through the freshly treated gate and turn right towards Gawk Hall Gate.

The clear path now follows the line of a dry stonewall.

In the distance across the valley I can see RAF Menwith Hill. This site provides communications and intelligence support to the UK and US. The site was acquired in 1954 and during the ‘Cold War’ was key to monitoring the communications from the Soviet Union.

To my left is the expanse of Blubberhouse Moor.

At Gawk Hall Gate I turn right, passing through the gate to head up towards an old stone way-marker.

From here I follow the path in the direction of Ilkley.

Initially this is well defined but becomes more difficult to follow as I head downhill.

March Ghyll Reservoir is in front of me.  Apparently this small reservoir was built by the Otley District Council Water Works in 1906.

My route now turns right along a clear track arriving at a gate where I turn left following a well-made track besides a wall.

At a junction of tracks near the start of Parks Lane I turn right staying on a track along the edge of Middleton Moor passing Ling Park Plantation to reach a minor road.  I turn left and follow the road, soon coming to a layby on my left where I bag the Ling Park OS Trig Pillar, my 144th.

I stay on the road ignoring footpath signs off to the right.  I hear the distinctive call of a Curlew and then spot it in a field close to the road.  This is a cracking bird and it is always such a pleasure to see.

I stay on the road, (now called Hardings Lane) as it sweeps to the right and heads downhill to pass the entrance to Myddleton Lodge where there is a sculpture of Jesus on the Cross.

This property was built in the 1500’s and was originally the home of the Middleton family it has been much altered over the years.  In 1923 the Diocese of Leeds took over the building and opened it as a religious retreat.  It was redeveloped in 2002 and operated as a 24-bedroom retreat until June 2016, but has recently been put up for sale.

I stay on the road walking through the affluent outskirts of Ilkley and head down to cross the River Wharfe on the packhorse bridge built in 1675.

The bridge is close to where a ford crossed the river and the Roman Road to Boroughbridge.  The Roman fort of Olicana stood nearby, on what is now the site of All Saints Church.

After crossing the bridge I turn right to re-join the Dales Way.  This is the starting, or finishing, point for this 80 mile trail between Ilkley and Bowness-on-Windermere.  Walking besides the River Wharfe I get a clear view of Myddelton Manor high above on the hill.

I stay on the Dales Way as it passes Ilkley Lawn Tennis and Squash Club before heading through a series of kissing gates to cross pasture fields.

The path then gets close to the river again and after crossing a footbridge over a stream leading to the River Wharfe I take a footpath on the right, this is the path I started my walk on and I soon reach the driveway of Hall Croft CL.

My walk has covered thirteen and a half miles and definitely stirred up memories of times long ago when I used to visit this area.

To view this 13.5 mile walk on OS Maps Click Here.

To follow my walk you will need Ordnance Survey Explorer Map 297 – Lower Wharfedale & Washburn Valley

7th July 2019

© Two Dogs and an Awning (2019)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.