A lengthy excursion into the upper reaches of the beautiful Marske valley returning via Skegdale, Washfold and the superb track above Telfit Bank.
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A theme of my walks in the Dales in 2016 is revisiting places I've not been to for ten years or so, often with a variation or two on my earlier routes. This walk up the Marske valley is a good example as it added a few miles of exploration in the upper reaches of the valley to a walk I'd originally done back in 2006. Joining me on the walk was my friend Paul who has now become a regular walking companion on any walks I do in the North Pennines and the Swaledale area of the Yorkshire Dales.
Starting at the small parking area on the western side of Marske Bridge we walked up the hill into the small village - remarkably this part of the walk was the only section within the boundary of the Yorkshire Dales National Park. From the village we took the access road to Clints, passing by the last houses we entered Clints Wood and, one of the highlights of the walk, a magnificent carpet of snowdrops, quite easily the finest that I've ever seen.
"Before the bridge on Skegdale Beck we went in search of the waterfall that was marked on the map. It turned out to be a fairly modest affair and was more memorable for the bizarre sight of a sheep's brain and internal organs, sans skeleton or fleece, submerged in the water just downstream."
After passing through the woods we dropped down the track past Orgate Farm to Orgate Bridge where we walked the short distance upstream to view the lovely Orgate Force. I'd been looking forward to revisiting this particular waterfall and I wasn't disappointed. Returning back to the footpath we then took the access track to Telfit Farm as it curves around below Telfit Bank on a particularly scenic section of the valley.
Passing the farm we then left the main track to take a narrower path dropping back down to Marske Beck for a nice stretch of beckside walking as the stream is squeezed between Helwith Bank to the north and Cold Bank to the south. Eventually we came to the narrow footbridge crossing the beck to the farm at Helwith. From Helwith we crossed a number of pastures on our way to Holgate with some nice views of the upper reaches of Marske Beck and its tributaries. Despite looking we couldn't find anything that seemed to match the Hell Holes feature on the map.
The small hamlet of Holgate was a rather sad affair seemingly having been abandoned in the last decade or so. Looking through one broken window there was still wallpaper in one the rooms. Hopefully one day someone will restore it because it is in a lovely spot. Just past Holgate we witnessed a stoat chasing a rabbit across a field. The stoat still had its white ermine coat and so it was easy to track its progress. Our appearance temporarily put it off and I think the rabbit got away.
Dropping down to Goats Bridge we then climbed up the other side to meet the access road to the remote house at Schoolmaster Pasture. Before the bridge on Skegdale Beck we went in search of the waterfall that was marked on the map. It turned out to be a fairly modest affair and was more memorable for the bizarre sight of a sheep's brain and internal organs, sans skeleton or fleece, submerged in the water just downstream. How this had happened I shudder to think.
From the small bridge crossing Skegdale Beck we walked down Goats Road to Washfold where we took a nice path slanting down to Padley Beck where we had lunch by the stream. Afterwards we climbed back up on to some scrappy pastures from where we joined the bridleway climbing up past the farms of Low Greenas and High Greenas. After the latter we came to the northern terminus of Helwith Road from where we took a nice path across the moor to the trig point on Skelton Moor. The trig point itself is labelled Telfit Moor on the OS database and from it there was a great view of the upper reaches of Marske Beck and the hills and moors above it.
To conclude the walk we followed the grand track above Telfit Bank with more wonderful views of the Markse valley before dropping down to Skelton Lane and across some pastures to Pillimire Bridge. Sadly it wasn't possible to get a views of the two nearby waterfalls marked on the map. Having crossed the bridge it was then a simple walk downstream back to Marske Bridge. This was a really fine walk and I'd definitely like to go back sometime to visit the area to the north of Holgate.