Heading to Parson's Pulpit on the Monk's Road

Parson’s Pulpit from Street Gate

Walk Summary

An enjoyably easy ramble on to the limestone height of Parson’s Pulpit from Street Gate via Malham Tarn and the Monk’s Road.

Distance: 6.6 miles
Total ascent: 950ft
Walk Rating: ****
Parking: Roadside, Street Gate
Route: Download Route [GPX]

Photo Gallery

Walk Report

Parson’s Pulpit is the highest point of the limestone uplands between Malham Tarn in the west and Littondale in the east. Prior to this walk I’d been up there twice, both times from the Littondale side. For a while I’d been wanting to do it from the opposite side and, having failed to do it back in March when my car broke down en route, I picked it as the walk to do on my birthday.

The walk started from the junction of roads and tracks at Street Gate. This is found on the narrow road climbing up out of Malham signposted for Malham Tarn. There are no official parking areas but there are plenty of places to park a car off the road.

“Turning right the track dropped down slightly to the buildings at Middle House. Largely hidden by trees I was struck by how layers of moss had colonised walls, trees and buildings alike.”

From the road junction we took the track heading north-east for Malham Tarn. The early morning blue skies had already clouded over and the wind was bitterly cold. Lisa in particular enjoyed stamping on the many frozen puddles to be found along the track.

Passing through a gate we entered the National Trust’s Malham Tarn Estate. Continuing on below the impressive Great Close Scar we passed through one of the many herds of cattle that can be found in this area. Generally I try and avoid all cattle but for some reason I was feeling particularly brave on this walk.

The track soon led on to the very shores of the tarn. After taking some photos we took an initially faint path climbing up to our right. We were now on the Monk’s Road, an historic path that once linked the sheep pastures of Malhamdale with Fountains Abbey.

Climbing up to a brow I resisted the temptation to detour south on to the top of Great Close Hill to continue on our main route. A fainter path soon forked left uphill above Middle House Farm to reach a gate. Passing through the gate we continued on the path, now a broader track that had been heavily churned up by cows and tractor tyres.

Turning right the track dropped down slightly to the buildings at Middle House. Largely hidden by trees I was struck by how layers of moss had colonised walls, trees and buildings alike. Having stopped to take some macro shots of the moss I hurried to catch up with Lisa.

By now the path had improved somewhat as it continued on its way weaving around areas of limestone. Eventually, at an area called Dew Bottoms, we left the Monk’s Road to walk uphill with a wall on our left. After a steady climb we crossed a wall where a plank of wood has been inserted to helpfully create a stile of sorts. On the other side of the stile a steep pull brought us to the summit of Parson’s Pulpit.

The highest point features an Ordnance Survey surface block, a replacement for a concrete trig point that once stood on the same spot. Thanks to Lisa sitting down next to it I also noticed an Ordnance Survey cut benchmark on another stone a few metres from the surface block.

After taking the obligatory summit photos we descended south-west. Picking up a thin path between seams of limestone this turned into a quad track that led to a gate. Padlocked shut we carefully climbed over the gate to continue along the track to soon join the bridleway from Arncliffe Cote in Littondale.

Turning right it was then a simple two-mile walk along the bridleway all the way back to Street Gate. Along the way there were views of the large sheep pastures of Mastiles and Great Close. As the track swung around Gordale Beck we spotted a dipper, one of my favourite birds.

Just minutes from the car we saw some Belted Galloways. Standing right in front of Street Gate was a bull. As mentioned I have a general aversion to cattle though for some reason I find ‘Belties’ a lot less threatening. Having already walked through a herd of cattle at the beginning of the walk I topped that by walking up to the bull and giving it a friendly stroke on the head. Thankfully it didn’t seem to mind!

While the grey and dreary skies were somewhat disappointing we both still enjoyed this walk. It was good to finally explore a couple of the routes east of Malham Tarn. It was also nice to have a positive bovine experience on a walk!

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