The High Way – Garsdale

Walk date – 22nd May 2023

Distance – 8.2 miles

Weather – dry, warm, a mix of sunny/cloudy spells, light breeze

We went back to Yorkshire, our native county, today although it was merely a toehold not a full immersion. We were just on the very edge of the Yorkshire Dales National Park but its still Yorkshire, even though the sign, just a short distance up the road to Sedbergh from the Moorcock Inn, indicates the crossing of the county line back into Cumbria. We made the longish drive from home through the Mallerstang valley to the Moorcock Inn where there are a few off-road parking spaces. Other than a family loading up their car in the inn’s car park after staying there overnight there was no-one else to be seen. We got ourselves ready to go, J fired up the gps and then we only had to cross the road to the start of the path just below the inn.


Moorcock Inn – Yore House Farm – Cotterside Plantation – Thwaite Bridge Farm – Cotter End – The High Way – High Dyke – Shaws – Lund Chapel – Lunds Plantation – B6259 – Moorcock Inn

The path begins at this gate just below the inn so we pass through it and …..

….. begin the walk down to Yore House farm. Today’s route will take us over Abbotside Common, the skyline of which is shown in this shot. Its a warm and very pleasant day so we are suitably attired in T-shirts and shorts, well J is wearing shorts I’ve opted for crop pants with shorts tucked in my pack just in case it gets even warmer.

Below the Cobbles Plantation is the bridge crossing the river Ure where we will turn right, cross the bridge and make our way across the fields to Thwaite Bridge farm.

Approaching the bridge crossing where the lamb heard the click of the camera and looked up immediately, Mum didn’t even bat an eyelid, grass is much more important than humans any day of the week. There are actually two bridges here, the wooden one behind the original bridge being much wider and sturdier. Perhaps the stone bridge was much too narrow to accommodate modern farm vehicles, especially the monster tractors that most farmers seem to have nowadays.

A shot of this pretty little waterfall as we crossed over, not a lot of water flowing over it at present as we are having a dry spell at present.

The view back to Yore House farm as we made our way along the path. The farmer had just turned out the cows and calves into the field below so he directed us alongside the wall just to be on the safe side. Cows with calves can be a bit unpredictable sometimes although we’ve never had any trouble with them. We had a bit of chat with him about the weather and such like before continuing on our way.

From here on it was simply a case of walking across four fields of rough pastureland passing though all the various gates/stiles along the way, this is wall crossing number one …..

….. and wall crossing number two.

A look ahead across the fields towards the steep slope on the left, our eventual turn up point. If you want to walk The High Way from its southeastern end that just has to be tackled first.

The fledgling River Ure meandering along the valley bottom making its way down into Wensleydale. Its source, at Ure Head high up on Abbotside Common, is just a little further north along the valley.

Wall crossing number three was a step stile where we made a rather ungainly crossing since the steps sticking out of the wall didn’t stick out far enough for either of us to use them in a graceful/elegant manner. Not that either of us are in any way graceful or elegant but I’m guessing that you’ll know what I mean.

Wall crossing number four was simply a matter of opening a metal gate leading into the farmyard at Thwaite Bridge farm, so here’s a view of the bridge and part of the farm buildings rather than a one of a metal farm gate.

The view looking the other way with the farm buildings now behind me and the next part of the route indicated by the signpost over on the left.

We take a short uphill walk through the copse from the signpost …..

….. which led us up to this small gate and out onto the open fellside.

We had a short pause as we climbed up from the copse for a shot along the minor road between Hawes and the Moorcock Inn, this view looks back down to the buildings of Thwaite Bridge farm and towards the Moorcock direction. The pause also allowed me to change into my shorts, it was getting a bit too warm to be wearing the crop pants.

The heavy lifting started here. Below the trees in the centre of the shot it might just be possible to identify a whitish marker pole which indicates the way to a small wooden gate in the wall. Passing through the gate leads into another field crossing which in turn leads up to the gate below Cotter End. Its a steep climb over rough grassland so my back muscles weren’t too impressed.

The last little section of the steep climb as we pass through the gate leading up to Cotter End.

The flattish area on Cotter End is home to this lime kiln, plus lots of sheep who looked most put out by our arrival, one of whom added her own contribution to the large accumulation of sheep droppings lying around.

Well we’ve made it onto The High Way at last so time for a peep over the wall down to Thwaite Bridge farm with Mossdale Moor (I think) behind it.

The view ahead as we stride out along The High Way. In our walk of 1st June 2020 over Mallerstang Edge we walked part of the other end of this route. On that walk we started out a short distance from the house known as The Thrang and walked up to the stone sculpture known as ‘Water Cut’ before turning up to walk along Mallerstang Edge. We won’t be going as far as the sculpture today though as we plan to descend back down to the valley via Shaws and Lund Chapel.

Looking back along our route so far, lots of easy walking by way of compensation for the steep climb up to it.

The view ahead as we stride along. We’ve put long sleeved jumpers on now that the clouds have ganged up and the breeze is stronger and colder.

A shot of the information board attached to the gate as we passed through. There wasn’t a similar board at the end we started out from though. We did see several grouse as we walked along and heard the calls of curlews as they soared above us.

Several gills, mostly dry, were crossed as we walked along, I think this one is Johnston Gill.

Further along we arrive at the derelict buildings of High Dyke farm. All the buildings we passed along the way were in this state. Farming at this height must have been hard going and a very difficult way to earn a living so its hardly surprising that these buildings have been abandoned.

A look back at the derelict buildings as we pass by.

Dropping down towards Keld Gill where we were surprised to find a stone pitched path instead of grass under our feet. Once again no water in the gill.

Looking back across the gill towards the buildings at High Dyke.

Another derelict barn further along the route.

Another bone dry gill so the footbridge was not needed today. I’m not sure what the name of this gill is as it could be called either Scars Gill or Lambfold Gill. The two gills start out as separate entities but they eventually become one a little further back up the hill so I suppose both names would be correct. Whatever its called whenever the gill contains water it carries on down the hillside to eventually join the river Ure in the valley bottom.

A view of Wild Boar Fell as we make our way down from The High Way towards Shaws …..

….. which we found more by luck than judgement. J thought he could hear a waterfall as we were descending so he went to investigate while I waited on the path. He eventually re-appeared saying he had found Shaws so off we went to investigate and there it was. We spotted a woman coming towards us so I asked her if she knew the name of the building. She did and told us it was indeed Shaws and we ended up having a longish chat with her. She had just been to check on the chapel and was on her way home so she obviously lived nearby but we couldn’t see where home might be, every residence looked to be quite some distance from where we were standing.

I have no idea what the purpose was for this stone built round tower situated behind Shaws or when it was built but obviously it did have a purpose or someone wouldn’t have gone to the trouble of building it.

As we passed behind the Shaws buildings we came across this enchanting little series of falls in the garden. With so little water flowing down we began to think that J couldn’t have heard a waterfall after all, and that it was more likely to have been the sound of the wind blowing through the tree tops.

A look back at Shaws as we began descending again. This building used to be the Garsdale Youth Hostel but it closed its doors sometime in the 1980’s. Probably it is still owned by the YHA and if so someone will be keeping an eye on things. It is surrounded by trees and bushes now so it was difficult to photograph. If you want to see what it looked like in the 1980’s click on this link

At the bottom of the descent we crossed this little footbridge heading towards Lund Chapel and …..

….. then crossed another one to get to the chapel.

The chapel is a Grade ll listed building and privately owned now but you can go in and take a look around. J slid back the bolt on the outside of the door but had to make his way in sideways as the door wouldn’t open very far.

The interior of the chapel would have had wooden pews at one time, rather like the one alongside the wall, and of course the modern garden furniture now placed in the centre wouldn’t have been there at all. There is a mosaic of tiles on the floor below the window but there was no information as to where it came from.

We closed the door and slid the outside bolt back into place and then took a look at some of the headstone inscriptions, all of which dated back a considerable number of years to the very early years of the 20th century and many years before that.

From the chapel we walked down the track to this footbridge across the Ure river and continued on up the track opposite to rejoin the road and the walk back to the Moorcock. From the chapel we could have walked back across the fields to Blades farm and then onto the track we started out on earlier. We decided that taking to the tarmac would be a quicker and easier return even though we don’t care for road walking all that much. As we walked up the track to the road a lorry came down carrying a load of quarry hewn boulders and we did wonder where he was going to unload it all.

We carried on up the track which eventually ended at the roadside where these stone pillars and intricate iron gates formed the entrance. There were some initials worked into the metal on the top of the gate but I can’t remember what they were now. They would have been the initials of the original owner I would imagine.

From the gates we headed off down the road towards the Moorcock with a glance across the valley towards the white building of Shaws. The lorry still with its load of boulders came back down the road and passed us as we walked along. Had he turned down the Lund track by mistake we wondered?

On we went glancing now and then across at our route on the skyline…..

….. when the lorry came back up the road still bearing its load of boulders and the driver had passed us often enough by now to give us a cheery wave from his cab. We could only come to the conclusion that he had missed a turning somewhere. He must have found the place he needed to be because we didn’t see him or his wagon again.

An imaginative roadside sign indicating the access lane to Blades Farm caused me to wonder how much ploughing actually takes place nowadays on farms around here. Not all that much I guess given the amount of cattle and sheep we’ve seen along the way.

Looking across to Yore House farm and beyond and being reminded of our earlier steep climb up to Cotter End.

Back at the Moorcock again where the car is parked just below the line of bushes on the right of the shot. The inn does B&B accommodation but at present is only open to the public on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays and no food is served after 5.00 pm. They no longer do a lunch/evening meal menu and only serve bottled beer not draught. They still serve food but there is only a limited choice available at present. I remembered going there for a meal last summer and the busy waitress apologising for the long wait we’d had before our food arrived and telling us how difficult it was to hire staff nowadays. We have had many good meals there in the past and we were sad to see how things are now so we do hope it manages to keep going, it would be such a shame to lose it after all these years.