A lengthy ramble around the valley of Dentdale between Dent and Cowgill with some fine riverbank scenery including a visit to the atmospheric Ibbeth’s Peril.
|Parking:||Car park, Dent|
|Route:||Download Route [GPX]|
After having my camera away for repair for most of the month I’d finally got it back and was eager to take it out on a walk. Unfortunately the forecast was not a promising one. With it predicted to be a largely cloudy and overcast day I decided it would be good to have a crack at reaching some waterfalls on the flanks of Whernside above Dentdale.
The two waterfalls I was aiming to reach were High Force in Hacker Gill and Blake Beck Force in Great Blake Beck. Both are on open access land but the issue I faced was how to access the open access land from the valley. My plan had been to try and use what looked like an enclosed lane alongside a plantation at grid reference SD745863. As we’ll see my plans didn’t work out at all and the walk turned out rather differently than hoped.
“Trying one last gambit I asked if there was any permissible access to the open access land such a short distance away. When I explained why the lady behind the bar asked a chap in the pub. He said there absolutely wasn’t and then proceeded to tell me there were no real waterfalls in Blake Beck.”
Arriving in Dent after a long drive from home the skies were indeed overcast. Despite this I’ve always enjoyed coming back to Dent. Its cobbled main street is a delight. That and the fact that it was during a week’s holiday in Dent in 2004 that I first grew my beard!
From the car park I walked down the cobbled street, passing the large stone which is a memorial to the geologist Adam Sedgwick, and then to St Andrew’s Church. Continuing on the main road out of the village I dropped down to Church Bridge. Without crossing the bridge I then took the riverside path heading upstream. Arriving at some stepping stones I crossed the river and continued upstream, this time on the north bank to the River Dee.
After walking along the side of several sheep pastures I came to a pretty little scene below Tommy Bridge with a ford and small waterfall. Continuing on without crossing Tommy Bridge I instead crossed at the next footbridge. This area is signposted on local footpath signs as Lenny’s Leap. From the other side of the footbridge I climbed up to the road. Turning left I then took the access road to the farm at Laithbank.
Passing the houses at West Clint and Coat Faw I crossed a bridge over Hacker Gill. Looking upstream I saw a small waterfall. As it turned out this was to be the only waterfall I saw in Hacker Gill. A bit further on I came to where I expected to find the enclosed track next to the plantation. However, the reality on the ground was quite different.
Since I’d last passed this way back in 2004 the plantation had been almost completely chopped down. Furthermore there was no sign of any enclosed track or even two walls running next to each other up the hill. I hesitated for several minutes and even made a start on walking in the direction I’d intended. In the end though I thought better of it. I was now left facing a decision on how to find an access point to the open access land.
After some thought, and checking how much time I had, I decided on an alternative I’d previously considered. This was a very narrow strip of enclosed land next to the Sportman’s Inn beyond Cowgill. It meant extending the walk further up the valley but it looked like a realistic proposition. Therefore I carried on following the Dales Way to the road. Turning right along the road I crossed Ewegales Bridge and paid a quick visit to St John the Evangelist’s Church in Cowgill.
From the church I continued up the road to cross Lea Yeat Bridge and all the way to the Sportsman’s Inn. Immediately next to the pub was the thin strip of land, only 100m or so long that I wanted to use. Next to the pub was a cottage so I knocked on the door. My aim was to find out who owned the land in order to get permission to use it. There was no answer. My next recourse was to go into the pub and ask if they owned the land. They did not. Trying one last gambit I asked if there was any permissible access to the open access land such a short distance away. When I explained why the lady behind the bar asked a chap in the pub. He said there absolutely wasn’t and then proceeded to tell me there were no real waterfalls in Blake Beck.
Now I’ve seen pictures of Blake Beck Force and know this isn’t true. By this time though I was too dispirited to argue and decided to give up. Instead I walked rather disconsolately back down the road to Lea Yeat Bridge. The sight of an Ordnance Survey benchmark on the bridge perked me up slightly. I briefly wrestled with the idea of returning to Dent over the top of Rise Hill but in the end dismissed this due to the overcast skies.
In the end I decided to follow the main road back down the valley and visit Ibbeth Peril, a waterfall that I had hitherto not seen. A mile and a quarter of walking along the road and I came to a small parking area. Beyond a public footpath led to Nelly Bridge. I expected to find Ibbeth Peril immediately above or below the bridge. Nothing. What I did find was a very interesting little gorge where the riverbed was virtually dry. Clambering down over the rocks I sat on the riverbed itself to eat my lunch and generally feel a little bit sorry for myself.
After my lunch I returned to the road and continued on my way. About five minutes along the road I came across a narrow path heading back down to the river. I followed this and finally found Ibbeth Peril. The waterfall is apparently often dry so I was surprised to see a little bit of water trickling down it into the dark pool below. I didn’t even attempt to get round the pool and into the cave next to the waterfall. It is certainly a place I’d like to explore but I think it needs to be done in the company of someone who has been down there before.
Back at the road it was then another three and three quarter miles of walking back into Dent. For the most part I followed the road westwards. Briefly there were some unexpected breaks of sunshine which provided some nice views down dale. Just below the farm at High Chapel I took a path on the left back down to the riverbank. From there I turned right to retrace my steps to the stepping stones. Back on the south side of the river it was then just a case of following the Dales Way back into Dent.
This walk had really not turned out the way I’d hoped. I still aim to visit the waterfalls of Hacker Gill and Blake Beck but I’m resigned to having to do so via the Craven Way track as it passes over the shoulder of Whernside. On a more positive note I did finally visit Ibbeth Peril and found a few nice paths in the valley.