Oxnop Common via Co Gill

Walk Summary

A walk on to the summit of Oxnop Common via the waterfalls of Whitfield Gill and the squelchy bridleway from Helm to Co Gill.

Distance: 9.2 miles
Total ascent: 1600ft
Walk Rating: ****
Parking: Small car park in Askrigg
Route: Download Route [GPX]

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Walk Report

My first visit to the top of Oxnop Common, back in January 2007, resulted in one of my most treasured memories of walking in the Yorkshire Dales. My friend and I had walked up from Askrigg in driving rain and poor visibility. Carrying on to the large beacon on the northern end of the summit the rain and cloud suddenly cleared and suddenly we had wonderful views of the surrounding moors and fells.

Having booked a cottage for a week in Bainbridge I was on the lookout for potential walking routes in the area and it wasn't long before I'd plotted a route via the bridleway leaving Helm for the moors above Co Gill. On the day of the walk itself I decided to also add in a visit to Whitfield Gill Force on the way.

"Unlike my first attempt to reach Whitfield Gill Force this time I managed to negotiate the slippery path, fallen trees and mossy boulders to make my way to the foot of the waterfall."

To reach the latter I walked up the Askrigg to Muker road before turning left up Low Straights Lane. Having made a short detour to view the waterfall on Askrigg Beck I continued up to the top of Low Straights Lane from where I dropped down into Whitfield Gill.

Unlike my first attempt to reach Whitfield Gill Force this time I managed to negotiate the slippery path, fallen trees and mossy boulders to make my way to the foot of the waterfall. It was worth the effort, though of the two, I'd have to say that Mill Gill Force further downstream is the better of the two.

Heading south I then took the short lived bridleway to the houses at Helm. The subsequent bridleway heading west from Helm initially started off promisingly but soon deteriorated into something more like a wet stain on the ground as I crossed Helm Pasture. Finally I arrived at the bank of Co Gill where I had to search about a bit for a suitable place to ford the stream.

On the far side of the enclosed pastures of Coghill Closes the bridleway finally gave up its tenuous existence so I struck out north-west across the pathless moorland, forded Whity Gill, and then climbed up to join the bridleway that crosses Whitfield Fell on its way to Oxnop Common. Once on this track the going was so much easier and it was with a good stride that I arrived at the summit.

Frustratingly, and somewhat ironically given my previous experience on Oxnop Common, my arrival on the summit coincided with a huge cloud that cast a shadow over the summit the entire time I was up there. The sun was still shining elsewhere though and there were great views of the moors above Swaledale to the north. I was also struck by how clearly I could see Buckden Pike and Great Whernside to the south beyond the fells of Wensleydale.

From the summit I followed the bridleway south and then east until finally arriving back at the Askrigg to Muker road. As I made my way along the bridleway the skies cleared again and the views of Wensleydale, bathed in the late evening sunshine, were simply wonderful. Once back on the road I turned right and followed it all the way back in to Askrigg for a simple finish.