A nice easy walk on the southern fringes of the Yorkshire Dales starting from Hellfield and visiting Hellifield Flash before enjoying some fine views from Newton Moor.
|Parking:||Car Park, Hellifield|
|Route:||Download Route [GPX]|
Hellifield is a village on the A65 between Skipton and the turn off for Settle. I've driven through the village countless number of times on my way to walks in the western Dales, the southern Lake District and the Forest of Bowland. However, I'd never actually stopped in the village, let alone done a walk with Hellifield as the starting point.
I decided on this particular walk for two reasons. Firstly I thought it would make for a good alternative starting point to revisit the trig point on Newton Moor. Its several years since I last visited it and I wanted to get some better photos. Secondly, and more importantly, I also wanted to visit the Hellifield Flashes, a trio of natural lakes or ponds in the fields west of the village. I'd often caught a glimpse of the largest of these driving east back through the village. I thought it was high time that I actually paid them a visit especially as they are under threat from developers.
"Although the trig point stands at a modest 291m above sea level the panorama is quite impressive. From left to right the views included Ingleborough, Warrendale Knotts, Rye Loaf Hill, Kirkby Fell, Weets Top, Cracoe Fell and Flasby Fell."
We started the walk from a free car park on Back Lane, just off the road to Gisburn. Heading along the road towards the western edge of the village we spotted an old milestone for the 'Keighley to Kendal road'. Crossing over the road we then took a signed path down the side of the house and out on to a field at the back. Following the path we soon caught a glimpse of one of the Dunbars, the names given to the two smaller ponds.
Leaving the main path we made our way to a strip of trees below the largest Hellifield Flash. Also known as Gallaber Lake there was a good view of it from the wall just before entering the trees. There was an even better view half way down the path before we eventually came back out on to the A65. Turning right along the verge we passed the 'Hellifield' sign before turning right down Watergate Lane.
There were some more good views of the lake from the lane. There were plenty of wildfowl on the lake, the most numerous of which were wigeon. It was nice to another species of duck rather than the ubiquitous mallard. There were also a number of oystercatchers. Incredibly the Hellifield Flashes are at risk from a developer who wants to build a holiday park. For reasons that are hard to fathom both the RSPB and Yorkshire Dales National Park have withdrawn their opposition. This is quite sad state of affairs for a habitat that provides a home at different times of the year to 12 species on the red conservation list.
The lane carried on past a house before turning underneath the railway line. Continuing up the lane we'd walked about five minutes when we saw a steam train. I managed to get a photo but I was kicking myself that moments before I'd been in a much better spot for getting a picture.
We followed the track to a junction of paths. Turning left we walked up the side of the farm at Little Newton before turning right on to a lane at the back of the farm. Coming to a nice little stone bridge we crossed over the stream to turn left up Newton Gill. This peaceful little valley felt a world away from the the village, A65 and railway line.
After several minutes the path began to climb up to the right. Here we took another path slanting down to the left so we could visit the little waterfall below Water Fall Rock. It probably needed a bit more water to be at its best but it was still a pleasant spot. On the far bank below the waterfall I also saw the my first wild primroses of the year.
Climbing up alongside Water Fall Rock we then turned left to pass over a stile and on to the open access land of Newton Moor. My plan had been to follow the path up on to the shoulder of Ling Hill and then turn right up to the trig point. This proved impractical thanks to a substantial area of newly planted trees and a barbed wire fence. The easiest way to access the trig point therefore is to cross the stile above Water Fall Rock and then turn right to follow the fence up to a gate. Through the gate it is then a pathless trod up to the trig point.
Although the trig point stands at a modest 291m above sea level the panorama is quite impressive. From left to right the views included Ingleborough, Warrendale Knotts, Rye Loaf Hill, Kirkby Fell, Weets Top, Cracoe Fell and Flasby Fell. To the south we could also see Pinhaw Beacon, Weets Hill, Pendle Hill and the Bowland moors. We were incredibly lucky as the day had started off quite murky. As we approached the trig point the skies began to clear and the sun came out and visibility improved markedly.
Leaving the trig point we followed a thin path that led us down to a gate on to Langber Lane at grid reference SD860591. Built into the wall next to the gate was a wooden construction the purpose of which I wasn't sure but made a good seat for us to have our lunch. Whilst eating we spotted a distant murmuration of starlings above Crake Moor.
After lunch we turned right to a gate at the end of Langber Lane. Continuing on the path became much less clear and quite moist underfoot. Through the next gate though we joined a good track that descended Hellifield Moor. Approaching a gate into some woods we then turned sharp right to walk around the botton of Wenningber Hill to a gate. Passing through this we joined Haw Lane. This pleasant track was our route all the way back to Hellifield. The walk ended with a quick look around St Aidan's Church in the village where I was pleased to spot an Ordnance Survey benchmark.
This was a very enjoyable walk. My only regret is that we didn't also pay a visit to Hellifield Station. That and the fact that we just missed the steam train. The low grassy hills along the southern fringes of the Dales between Gargrave and Settle aren't that well known. As this walk showed it features some fine scenery and, from the top of Newton Moor, an exceptional view.