Flue and chimney on Grassington Moor

Grassington Moor & Mossdale

Walk Summary

A fascinating ramble around the mining remains on Grassington Moor before heading over Priest’s Tarn Hill and dropping in to lonely Mossdale.

Distance: 9.5 miles
Total ascent: 850ft
Walk Rating: ****
Parking: Roadside parking at the end of Moor Lane
Route: Download Route [GPX]

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Walk Report

I find the archaeological remains of the Yorkshire Dales leadmining past endlessly fascinating. This walk combined a visit to the mining remains on Grassington Moor with a moorland tramp over Priest’s Tarn Hill and into Mossdale before returning via a number of high level tracks.

My previous visits to Cupola Corner smelting mill on Grassington Moor have all started in Grassington itself. As I was extending the walk further beyond the mines I started high up on the moor, there being space to park a few cars on the side of the road at the end of Moor Lane opposite the house at Yarnbury.

“On the map at least, Priest’s Tarn is one of the larger tarns in the Yorkshire Dales. While the original extent of the tarn can easily be seen today it has shrunk to a couple of small pools.”

From a choice of tracks I took one heading east passing some shallow mining pits and one of a number of small mining reservoirs. Passing through a gate the track dropped gently down to a bridge over Hebden Beck. Shortly afterwards I left the track to take a thinner path leading to a stile to access the remains of the Cupola Corner smelt mill which was originally built by the Duke of Devonshire in 1792.

After having a potter around the ruins I climbed up to another small reservoir and then on to what is my favourite industrial feature in the Dales – the quarter of a mile long flue leading up to a well preserved chimney. Upon arrival at the chimney I only just managed to get a few photos before the fog which had been threatening to drift over finally arrived.

For the next hour or so, as I climbed higher on to the moor passing more reservoirs, dams and spoil heaps, the fog came over in waves punctuated by a few isolated patches of sunshine. It was not until I’d reached the end of the track leading to the head of Blea Beck that I finally managed to finally escape the fog, by which time the skies above had also clouded over.

Initally climbing on a muddy shooters path passing some well concealed grouse butts I eventually had to strike across the open moor to reach my next target – Priest’s Tarn. On the map at least, Priest’s Tarn is one of the larger tarns in the Yorkshire Dales. While the original extent of the tarn can easily be seen today it has shrunk to a couple of small pools. It is possible that the tarn has become a victim of the drainage ditches that have been cut across the moor – one of the management practices of those who run grouse moors.

Swallowing my disappointment at the pitiful state of the tarn I decided to tramp south through the heather to a large cairn that had been prominent for some time. Unmarked on the map it turned out to be a memorial cairn built to commemorate the 1967 Mossdale caving disaster. The cairn marks the spot where deep underground six young men aged between 17-26 lost their lives when the cavern they were exploring flooded.

Leaving this sombre spot I headed north to cross a fence and then bearing right dropped down to meet a muddy path alongside some grouse butts. This path led me down to a bridge over Thorpen Gill and to a house which on some maps is labelled as a shooting hut. Crossing over another bridge, this time over Mossdale Beck, I then turned left to Mossdale Scar where the cavers had gone underground on that fateful day in 1967.

Continuing along the track I then had a choice of two routes to return to Yarnbury, either a higher level shooters track or via a series of rights of way across the pastures of Bycliffe and Kelber. I opted for the latter as it allowed easy access to the trig point on New Pasture Edge via a handy gate on Bare House Lane. After a short detour to the trig point it was then an easy walk back along Bare House Lane and then Limekiln Lane back to Yarnbury.

This had been a thoroughly enjoyable walk, despite the fact that the weather wasn’t anywhere near as nice as forecast. Having said that the drifting patches of valley fog in the morning and early afternoon certainly added to the atmosphere while exploring the mines of Grassington Moor and drama to the views of Thorpe Fell and Cracoe Fell to the south.

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