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Tucked Away in Secluded Lothersdale

A short walk with fine views and a glimpse of Lothersdale's industrial past.

Distance 4 miles (6.4km)

Minimum time 2hrs

Ascent/gradient 1,509t (100m)

Level of difficulty Medium

Paths Tracks and field paths, some steep sections. 8 stiles

Landscape Pennine moorland, farmland and industrial relics

Suggested map aqua3 OS Explorer OL21 South Pennines

Start/finish SD 939472

Dog friendliness Off lead on final section of walk, from Point e onwards

Parking Roadside parking on Carleton to Colne road, north of Clogger Lane

Public toilets None on route

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© AA Media Limited 2015. © Crown Copyright Licence number 100021153

1 From the car park walk downhill towards the mast on the hillside. Just before the cattle grid turn left up the signed track. At the next signpost turn right, off the track. Follow the wall, then bend left to go over a stile in the wall on your right. Bear left, past a small plantation, then go diagonally right. Go over a stile and continue downhill with a wall on your right, which bends left to a signed stile on to a metalled drive.

2 Turn left along the drive. After the cattle grid bear right along the concrete road and over another cattle grid. Emerge on to a metalled lane and turn left. Follow the lane as it bends downwards over a small stream then starts to rise again. Turn right over a cattle grid by the house sign 'The Knott'.

3 Follow the concrete road, which bends left round the building, then right on to a track. Follow the track with a wall on your left and, at the end, descend towards the pool in the valley. At the bottom of the field go over a stile in the crossing wall, over another stile and across the dam at the end of the small pool and on to the road. Turn left. Just beyond the Hare and Hounds pub, turn left at the Pennine Way sign.

4 Follow the track uphill. Leave the track to go right of a large farm building. Follow the wire fence on your right above a wooded valley and continue straight ahead at the top of the valley, now with a stone wall on your left. Pass a broken wall, then take a stile in the wall on your left, signed with an acorn. Go straight across the field to a stone stile on to a lane.

5 Cross the lane and continue up the track ahead, signed 'Pennine Way'. Where the concrete farm track bends left, go straight ahead over a stone stile on to a walled track. Follow the wall on your left to a stile, then continue to follow the wall on your left to where it bends sharply left.

6 Follow the wall left, go over a plank bridge and continue to the trig point on the hilltop. Follow either of the two downhill paths, which converge, and continue past the signpost you passed near the start of the walk. Continue downhill to the road and turn to right to the car parking place.

Set deep in the rolling countryside to the west of Keighley, Lothersdale is a village of gritstone houses and mill buildings - typical of the small settlements that grew up in the late 18th and early 19th centuries along the river valleys of the West Riding of Yorkshire. The mill dam that you will cross as you enter the village is characteristic of the scale of the industrial enterprise undertaken then - sufficient to employ local people, but too small to fight against the expanding trade of its larger neighbours. Farming and industry had always co-existed here, and today Lothersdale relies on agriculture and tourism - it is a popular stop on the Pennine Way - as well as its role as a base for those who work in the West Yorkshire conurbation.

The Lothersdale district is of particular interest to geologists. As part of the Ribblesdale Fold Belt, there is a notable anticline at Lothersdale, where the limestone has been tilted by the forces of the earth so that it dips significantly - at angles of anything from 20 to 90 degrees from the horizontal. This dramatic effect is best studied at Raygill Quarry, to the west of the village, where the crest of the anticline is exposed in the rock faces. Between 1876 and 1895 over 35,000 tons of barytes was mined at Raygill. This valuable mineral is a sulphate of barium, which is used in drilling processes, as well as in industrial coatings and linings. The quarrying of the fine carboniferous limestone here continued well into the 20th century, but has now ceased, and the flooded quarry workings have been transformed into a successful trout fishery. Raygill was also the site of a discovery, in 1880, of the bones and teeth of several mammals that died in fissures in the rocks in the period between the ice ages. They included remains of mammoth, rhinoceros, lions, bear, bison and hyena. The bones were taken to Leeds City Museum, where they were damaged by bombing during the Second World War.

The Society of Friends has had a long association with Lothersdale. This once-remote valley provided a haven for Quakers in the persecutions of the 17th century. They built a meeting house here in 1723 and enlarged it in 1799. It had a gallery with unusually designed hatches that could close to create a separate room. The meeting house closed in 1959. In 1800 the Lothersdale Quakers opened one of the earliest Sunday schools anywhere in the world, 'for the preservation of the youth of both sexes, and for their instruction in useful learning.'

While you're there

The far-reaching views from the trig point near the end of the walk are matched in splendour by those from the top of Lund's Tower near Cowling, 3 miles (4.8km) south east of Lothersdale. Built either to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee of 1897, or the coming of age of Miss Ethel Lund of Malsis Hall down in the valley (or quite possibly both), it shares its ridge with an obelisk, Wainman's Pinnacle, while ½ mile (800m) to the south is the 1,000 ton Hitching Stone, said (though who can tell?) to be Yorkshire's largest boulder.

What to look for

Like many places in the area, Lothersdale has close connections with the Brontës - Haworth is less than 8 miles (12.9km) away. At a house called Stone Gappe (private) on the hillside ½ mile (800m) east of Lothersdale, Charlotte Brontë was employed as a governess by the Sidgwick family. She had just left her old school, Roe Head, where she had taught for nearly three years. She was not happy in her employment at Stone Gappe, and left after less than three months there. Like many of Charlotte's early experiences, her time at Stone Gappe was used in her novels; the house appears in the first four chapters of Jane Eyre as Gateshead Hall, scene of Jane's imprisonment in the Red Room and from where she is taken to Lowood School.

Where to eat and drink

The Hare and Hounds in Lothersdale is on the route. It has beamed ceilings and real ale, and serves meals at lunchtime and in the evening. A pleasant beer garden with an aviary is ideal for children.

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