An excellent walk from Conistone to the lonely valley of Mossdale via Conistone Dib and Bycliffe Road before returning via Conistone Moor, Capplestone Gate and Davy Dimple.
|Parking:||Roadside, Conistone Bridge|
|Route:||Download Route [GPX]|
The small village of Conistone is one of my favourite starting points for a walk in Wharfedale. This walk was a variation on a number of walks that I've done in the area taking the form of a distorted figure of eight.
I parked up at Conistone Bridge just in time to see a passing patch of sunshine illuminate Kilnsey Crag on the other side of the river. Turning east I walked up through the village to take the gate leading to Gurling Trough. A short but quite remarkable little limestone canyon, Gurling Trough led me to the broader dry valley of Conistone Dib.
"Just as the rain shower passed I reached some more mine workings and some modest gritstone outcrops. The view also suddenly opened out to include Great Whernside, Buckden Pike, Middlesmoor Pasture and the hills above Littondale. "
I followed the path up the length of the valley up to the enjoyable little scramble at the end. Turning left I passed through a gate and over a little slab bridge to reach a track below some limestone pavement. After a brief detour on to the limestone pavement to take some photos I turned up the track heading north-east.
Soon becoming enclosed I continued on the track, known as Bycliffe Road, as it turned up to Kelber Gate. Beyond Kelber Gate the track once again ran free of the walls and out on to open pasture and then moorland as it forded Gill House Beck to run on and meet another track descending from Black Edge.
Continuing on the main track I rounded a corner and soon arrived at Mossdale Scar where Mossdale Beck disappears underground. The cave system beyond the scar were the scene of the 1967 Mossdale caving disaster, where six young men aged between 17-26 lost their lives when the cavern they were exploring flooded. You can read more about this terrible event on the Independent website.
After stopping for a while by the scar I continued along the track to reach a junction above a footbridge. My way was the left turn but before I did so I dropped down to cross the beck at the footbridge. On the other side of the bridge is a shooting house, the only building to be found in Mossdale. All the doors were locked but I did spot an Ordnance Survey cut benchmark on one corner.
As I crossed back over the footbridge it began to rain and as I took the track continuing uphill I found myself walking into a strong wind and oncoming shower. The next twenty minutes or so, as I crossed Conistone Moor, was cold and wet. After passing some mine workings the track faded to a faint but fairly easy to follow trod.
Just as the rain shower passed I reached some more mine workings and some modest gritstone outcrops. The view also suddenly opened out to include Great Whernside, Buckden Pike, Middlesmoor Pasture and the hills above Littondale. Turning left along the path I followed the edge of the moor to reach Capplestone Gate. Passing through the gate it was a 10 metre walk back up to the right to reach the Conistone Moor trig point.
One of my favourite trig points in the Dales, and probably one of my most visited away the higher fells, it has a fine view of the hills surrounding Wharfedale and Littondale. I did catch a brief glimpse of Pendle Hill before it disappeared behind another passing shower. Returning to the wall I took shelter to eat my sandwiches before desending along the Conistone Turf Road, so-called because it was the route once used by the villagers to cut peat for fuel.
A fairly quick descent along the path brought me back to Bycliffe Road. Retracing my steps a short way I made a detour to visit a kiln before returning to the path above Conistone Dib. The next stage of the walk eschewed the trodden paths as I made my way above the southern rim of Conistone Dib. After passing a small pool and the path climbing up below Bull Scar I walked to the top of the scar. Here I was greeted with a fabulous view down to the head of Conistone Dib with the pastures rising up to Conistone Moor beyond. In another direction there was also a fabulous view down the entrance of Littondale.
My main reason for this detour was to revisit the prominent cairn on Davy Dimple. I'd visited it once before many years ago and had a desire to see it again. Not long after Bull Scar I found what seemed a fairly well trodden path. I followed it hoping it would lead me to a stile or fence. Instead the path faded near a wall corner. Carefully climbing over the wall it was then a short walk up to the cairn on Davy Dimple.
I timed my arrival perfectly as a rainbow appeared further up the valley beyond the cairn making for a fantastic photo opportunity. There was also a magnificent bird's eye view of Conistone down to my left. I stopped for a while taking in the views and changeable lighting as showers and patches of sunlight passed over the valley.
Eventually I decided it was time to leave. Instead of attempting what would have been a steep descent I followed a grassy path heading south. As it approached a wall it swung downhill before slanting down to the right. This led me to the public footpath running above a wall. Turning right on this it was then a short walk back to Conistone. Where there had been only two parked cars when I set off there were now over 30.
This had been another excellent walk. Whilst there was little that was new to me it is always a nice area to revisit. The views from the trig point and from the Davy Dimple cairn were especially good. The one real revelation of the walk was the panorama from Bull Scar. With its view of Conistone Dib and the entrance to Littondale it was a real cracker.