Addlebrough is a flat topped fell in Wensleydale, modest in size but with a distinctive shape that makes it an easily recognisable landmark in the dale.
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At 481m in height Addlebrough is far from the highest fell in Wensleydale. In fact it is actually much lower than many of the nearby hills. Despite this lack of height Addlebrough still manages to be one of the main landmarks of the valley. Its shapely upper slopes rise steeply from Thornton Rust Moor and are lined with steep limestone cliffs.
Addlebrough is located fairly centrally in Wensleydale to the south of Bainbridge and Askrigg. While it is not seen from the former it is a daily presence to the south for the residents of Askrigg. To the west of Addlebrough is the side valley of Raydale which contains the lake of Semer Water. To the south is the vast upland area of Stake Fell which, though higher than Addlebrough, fails to have anything approaching a defined summit.
Not far below Addlebrough is the farm of Carpley Green, at 379m above sea level one of the higher farms in the area. Even higher are the remains of two ancient settlements. Both are marked on the map, one on the southern flanks of the fell and the other to the south-west of the summit. The latter can be well seen from the limestone scar above.
Also well seen from the limestone crags on the western side of Addlebrough is the Devil’s Stone. Legend has it that a giant once lived on the summit of Addlebrough. One day the giant got into an argument with the Devil who was stood on the shore of Semer Water. The two started lobbing rocks at each other. The giant’s rock landed near the shore of the lake whilst the Devil’s Stone fell a little short of its target. The more prosaic explanation is that the Devil’s Stone is in fact a glacial erratic.
There are no official rights of way to the top of Addlebrough though it is entirely in access land. There are at least two permissive paths that make their way towards the summit, unfortunately neither of these are marked on the Ordnance Survey map. One leaves the Thornton Rust to Carpley Green bridleway at a stile at grid ref SD956875. This then heads over the 392m spot height before climbing steeply up the south-eastern flanks of the fell. Near the top of the initial climb keep an eye out for a stile. This crosses the wall to reach a superbly built cairn complete with seat. This is not the summit but is worth a visit.
The other permissive path I’m aware of leaves the Cubeck to Thornton Rust road near Scar Top Farm. I came across this quite by accident once and tried to follow it. After the initial signpost I didn’t find it easy to follow with few waymarks. Had it been marked on the map it would have been easier to try and follow its course. As it happened I got so far before just making a beeline across the moor to then climb the north-eastern side of Addlebrough.
The highest point can be found at a grassy rise near the northern edge of the fell. A trig point, erected in 1953, was once situated at the highest point. It was removed in about 2001 by the Yorkshire Dales National Park and the National Trust who own Addlebrough. Ostensibly this was done to protect a nearby cup and ring marked rock from the hordes of trig baggers they were expecting when open access came into being. To the east of the summit, near a wall, is a cairn that looks like it was made from the remains of the trig point.
If the small scattering of rocks on the summit do contain cup and ring marks they are not obvious. Ironically, given the decision to remove the trig point, the only obvious mark on the summit stones is an Ordnance Survey benchmark.
The view from the summit is good but, due to the height of the fell, almost solely consists of the Wensleydale scene. The view is even better from the limestone edges near the summit. To the north the view of Wensleydale is quite simply superb. A couple of hundred metres to the west brings into view a fantastic view of Semer Water and Raydale.