Trollers Gill

Trollers Gill is a short but spectacular limestone ravine situated at the head of Skyreholme Beck near Appletreewick in Wharfedale.

According to Peter Metcalfe’s ‘Place-Names of the Yorkshire Dales’ the name is old Norse and translates as’The Troll’s Arse Ravine.’ How delightful! In addition to its association with trolls the ravine is also the legendary home of a barguest, a black spectral hound with large eyes that can turn people to stone. One website also claims Trollers Gill is home to boggarts, imps and pixies. On my five visits thus far I’ve fortunately not encountered any of the above though on one occasion my daughter was stung by an evil looking wasp.

In Trollers Gill
In Trollers Gill

Trollers Gill is for most of the year dry, the beck going underground to appear again in springs at the foot of the ravine. After heavy rain the stream bed can quickly fill up making the passage up our down the ravine quite tricky. After a sustained period of rain it can be impassable so to be on the safe side it is probably best to visit after a few days of dry weather.

When in flood the ravine becomes impassable
When in flood the ravine becomes impassable

There is no offical public right of way through the ravine, however there has long been a permissive path and since 2005 most of Trollers Gill has been on designated access land. Good starting points for a walk up or down Trollers Gill are Appletreewick or a large layby on the B6265 just below Stump Cross Caverns. The quickest approach however is from New Road where there is space to park a couple of cars near a gate at grid reference SE065624.

Approaching the main ravine from the north
Approaching the main ravine from the north

The ravine really is quite spectacular, a worthy rival to the much more famous Gordale Scar. It may not be as high or long but it is certainly narrower and, in my opinion, more atmospheric – especially if you believe in trolls and barguests! Particularly eerie is the small cave just above the head of the main ravine. I fancy this to be the home of the barguest and as of yet have not plucked up the courage to do more than take a photo from the entrance.

The barguest cave in Trollers Gill
The barguest cave in Trollers Gill

Quite remarkably there is a fair amount of vegetation that can be found growing in the ravine. Particularly impressive are the trees, such as the rowan, which manage to cling to the precipitous limestone cliffs. Botanists can also keep an eye out for numerous flowers, the easiest of which to identify, for my untrained eye at least, was the harebell.

Rowan trees on the sides of Trollers Gill
Rowan trees on the sides of Trollers Gill

In my opinion the limestone scenery of Trollers Gill rivals any of the more famous spots around Malham or the Three Peaks country and deserves to be much better known. On the other hand if more people knew about it then it would perhaps lose some of its ambience.

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