Dead Man’s Hill is situated on a broad moorland ridge coming down from Great Whernside and which separates upper Nidderdale from Coverdale.
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|No. of Visits||3|
The name of the hill apparently refers to the murder of a Scottish pedlar in the 18th century. The murder was carried out by the proprietors of an inn which was situated where the ruins of Lodge can now be found. The body was buried on the hill but later uncovered and the perpetrators hung at Pateley Bridge. Another version of the tale which features multiple murders can be found on the Tales of the Dales website.
The construction of Scar House Reservoir in the 1930’s left a lasting mark on Dead Man’s Hill, not just in the re-shaping of the valley below but also from the rock that was taken from the hill at Carle Fell Quarry which helped build the reservoir’s dam. Whilst on the one hand the old quarry has scarred the hill side it is definitely a point of interest. The old quarry incline also provides a useful starting point for anyone wanting to climb Dead Man’s Hill.
Indeed the quarry track is the most direct way to the top. In addition to the old quarry other points of interest include a small tarn and a quite superb view of the two reservoirs backed by Great Whernside at the Dale Head. However, as with all approaches, a hill-bagger is ultimately faced with several hundred metres of pathless moorland to reach the indeterminate summit.
An alternative approach from Scar House Reservoir is to take the track that passes Lodge and over into Coverdale via the saddle with Little Whernside. At the top of the track simply turn right and follow the fence up on to the heathery plateau before going in search of the spot height.
An approach from Arkleside in Coverdale, climbing south on the same track, can also be used to reach the saddle with Little Whernside. A junction with a shooters track above Arkleside Gill provides another, more direct approach from Coverdale via a shooting hut. At the same junction there is also a thin grassy path that climbs up to a ruin next to a wall junction that on my third visit provided a handy shelter from an incoming shower.
The top of Dead Man’s Hill is extremely flat, apart from the expanse of moorland grass and heather the only real features are the numerous white sticks that mark grouse feeding stations. Unsurprisingly there is no depth at all to the view which largely consists of neighbouring moors and fells such as Great Whernside, Little Whernside, Great Haw, Pen Hill and Brown Haw.
Whilst heathery moorland predominates the summit there are a few outcroppings of rock to be found elsewhere. Apart from the obvious quarry there are the Gladstones, a jumble of boulders about five minutes walk north from the upper edge of the quarry. Meanwhile overlooking Coverdale there is Low Crag and High Crag, a modest gritstone edge that looks worth investigating in the future.
Dead Man’s Hill has neither a commanding profile or a memorable summit but it is the kind of unfashionable hill that I simply love.