Tracing the rural roads of the late eighteenth century: Eldroth and its surroundings as depicted by Thomas Jefferys

Robert Clarke <>
 North Craven 
 Heritage Trust 


The map of Yorkshire published in 1771 by Thomas Jefferys, to the scale of one inch to the mile, has attracted much attention because it was the first detailed map of the county, and the first to benefit from the technique of triangulation. This article examines one small area shown on the map, and attempts to relate the roads shown to those visible on the ground today. It considers the nature of Eldroth and its neighbouring rural areas, some of the early roads that do not appear on the Jefferys map, the general character of eighteenth century roads in the area, and some characteristics of the map itself. It then traces in some detail five routes shown by Jefferys as crossing the area, and concludes with some notes for walkers who may like to follow the routes for themselves.


In the late 1760’s, Thomas Donald, a Cumbrian surveyor working for the King’s geographer Thomas Jefferys, visited the area west of Giggleswick as part of his contribution to the first detailed mapping of Yorkshire. The landscape he would have seen was remarkably similar to that of the present day - most of the fields were already enclosed and the majority of the houses and stone barns had been built over the preceding century. There were differences, notably the railway that was driven through the area in the following century, the modern farm buildings that have been added in recent years and a different (though probably equally sparse) distribution of trees. Nevertheless, Donald would have little difficulty recognising the view if he were able to return today.

One difference that he would observe, though, was in the pattern of tracks and roads. It is tempting to imagine that the present network is simply a development of the one he surveyed, with some roads abandoned and others improved to become the major routes through the area. This article sets out to show that this was by no means the case.

After some introductory sections, this article is structured around five linear crossings of the area, which try to trace the routes shown by the Jefferys map on the modern landscape. Hopefully, these may prove useful as the basis of walks in the area to give a much more vivid impression of the old roads than a written description is capable of offering. Any reference to “the map” refers to the Jefferys map of 17711, with any other maps identified individually.

Care is needed. As will be seen below, the accuracy of the map is not wholly reliable. Routes may be shown on the map out of their actual position. Commonly used routes that existed at the time of the survey may be omitted, for whatever reason. Tracks that offered access to farms were not normally shown, yet some may have been in use as through routes. The scope of this article is limited to attempting to trace the routes that were shown on the map, which is by no means a comprehensive picture of the landscape in 1771, but is nevertheless the first detailed map of the area.

This article is best read with a modern map alongside. Conveniently, the whole area falls on the top left corner of the OS Explorer 1:25000 Sheet OL41, East Sheet2 for which reason the map references are given in six figure form without prefix, except on the rare occasions when the reference is to a point outside the study area. An extract from the Jefferys map is included below, and where spellings or names differ from the modern versions these are included in bracketed italics.

In addition, the first edition of the Ordnance Survey 6” map of the area is invaluable, as it shows the landscape at a transitional point between the map and the present3. These are referred to as the 1846 OS.

The area

This article is limited to a small part of the county, consisting of the village of Eldroth and parts of the surrounding villages. The rather arbitrary choice of area is entirely confined by the Keasden valley to the west, the hills rising from the Ribble to the east, the modern A65 to the north and the crest of the Bowland scarp (roughly from Bowland Knotts to the Whelpstone) to the south.

The appeal of this area for the purposes of re-constructing the late eighteenth century landscape is how little it has changed. Unlike most areas, there has been little modern development, the basic local economy has changed little, and the shortage of tree cover makes the landscape easy to see.

The physical landscape, despite complicated underlying geology, may be simplified as a series of parallel bands. In the north is the valley bottom and marshland of Austwick Moss. To the south of the Moss is a wide band of undulating land consisting of drumlins - mounds of glacial deposits that form a characteristic “basket of eggs” landscape, with each mound having a main axis running roughly NW - SE. South of this band of drumlins the peat covered land rises to a high escarpment running from Bowland Knotts to the Whelpstone that even today has resisted being drained and improved. This physical landscape had a major effect on early patterns of travel, as will be discussed later in this article. (One slightly unhelpful physical feature is that there are several significant glacial run-off channels, where the melt water of the retreating glaciers on the high ground cut deep gullies in the relatively soft glacial deposits. These are easily mistaken for the holloways caused by erosion of the ground by droving and packhorse traffic - indeed some routes may have followed such channels as a way of crossing the boggy uplands.)

Early roads

The pattern of roads shown by Jefferys is a snapshot in time, which also omitted some of the trackways that certainly existed. No detailed maps are known that show the roads and customary routes that existed earlier than this time. Field evidence is the only available source.

There is a suggestion that a Roman road may have passed through Eldroth. Studies of Roman roads suggest that one may have passed across the Aire gap from Ilkley to Kendal, with marching camps at Stockdale Lane End (SD836631) and Burrow (SD615758), which crossed the Ribble at Giggleswick. Opinions vary as to its route from Giggleswick to Burrow, but a credible (if unreferenced) suggestion has been published4 that it passed along what is now Eldroth Road to cross the Wenning near to the modern Clapham Station. This account suggests that the road left Giggleswick by Craven Bank Lane, though how it reached the Eldroth Road is not addressed. In the absence of any documentary or field evidence, it is an attractive speculation that it departed Craven Bank Lane at the bend at 795645, to climb Craven Ridge and on to Four Lane Ends (775646). Such a route would mean one, rather than two, stream crossings, and would keep to the high ground often preferred by Roman engineers. Others might wish to consider this speculation further.

What is clear is that the road through Lawkland, from Craven Bank Lane through to Cross Streets, existed well before the Jefferys survey. It is shown on Ogilby’s “strip map” of the road from York to Lancaster in 1675, though no side roads are shown to indicate where routes may have branched south into our area. It is said that the road continued in regular use after the building of the Keighley-Kendal turnpike as a means of avoiding tolls5. This may also be the road shown on the wonderful Gough Map6 of around 1400, running from Skipton to Kirkby Lonsdale via Settle.

Of greatest interest here are the roads that appear on the ground but are not shown on the map. At the time of the survey, most of the lower lying land was enclosed in its present pattern, though the majority of that enclosure took place during the preceding century. Roads earlier than this would not have been constrained by the enclosure walls, so took a line across the unimproved “waste” that was most convenient for travel. Some of these appear to have continued in use through the initial period of enclosure, but were taken out of use later, the land they crossed being then enclosed. The route was thereby “fossilised” in the pattern of walls. One such route, Cockett Lane, is considered in the Swawbeck to Whelpstone eastern itinerary below.

Another example occurs in Eldroth. The funnel-like beginning of this track is on Eldroth Road at 770649, with its course clearly visible south-west through a narrow enclosure falling to an attractive, rather wide packhorse bridge at 769648 crossing Kellot Beck. From there, it appears to have climbed past Howith to join other roads climbing up to the moor, possibly with another branch heading further to the east just south of the packhorse bridge. There is some evidence on the ground that this road also continued north of Eldroth Road to Lawkland Hall, perhaps a stone hauling route from the quarry during the hall’s construction.

An interesting example of the abandoned earlier road occurs on Eldroth Road, beginning at 786645. Here a walled lane heads south for a short distance, becoming a holloway in a field. Curiously, the holloway ceases abruptly at 784644 though a modern footpath continues. The likely explanation is that the track veered west at this point, crossing the hillside to join Eldroth Road again at 781646 (where there is also a slight holloway to be seen). This avoided a boggy stream crossing and a steep gradient, both of which were overcome by engineering of the road shown on the map.

There are some examples of roads that certainly would have existed at the time of the survey, but are not shown on the map. The most significant of these is a complex of roads to the south-east of Eldroth. The track from Four Lane Ends (775646) to Tipperthwaite (791641) and its offshoot, Back Lane, are omitted. Continuing from Back Lane is Green Lane (773632 — 766629), which in turn joins a clear track then modern motor road over the moor from 766631 to Sheepwash (785609). None of these appear on the map.

The likely explanation of this omission may lie in the land ownership history. In medieval times, this area was crossed by the boundary between the Burton-in-Lonsdale Chase, owned by the de Mowbray family, and Giggleswick, owned by the Percys. We are fortunate that the entire boundary of the Chase was surveyed in the early fourteenth century and that a brief but helpful description has survived. This has been plotted by modern scholars and described in some detail7. In this area, the boundary ran in a reasonably straight line from the crest of Buckhaw Brow (794658) to the Resting Stone (756615). For most of this distance, two distinct early roads can be traced running parallel and just a few hundred metres apart. To the west is a route (described below as part of the route from Lawkland Green to the Whelpstone) which lay entirely within the de Mowbray lands. To the east is a second route readily traceable from 791641 to Craven Ridge, then along Back Lane and Green Lane to the moor above Routster (766629), presumably continuing over the then open moor to the Resting Stone. This lies entirely on Percy lands. As the estates were broken up in post-medieval times it seems likely that the need for two separate routes diminished, with the Stackhouse Lane route staying in general use, and the other declining into just local useage. Like many local routes, it did not attract the attention of Jefferys’ surveyors.

Roads in the late eighteenth century

Much has been written about the development of roads in the eighteenth century, which needs not to be repeated here8. It was a timely moment for a map like that of Jefferys to be produced, as it was at a time of transition. Wheeled vehicles were becoming more common in accessible areas, so the road through Lawkland and, particularly, the turnpike to its north were being used increasingly for carts and coaches, which in turn linked to the canal system that was under construction. However, in a more peripheral area as in this study, wheeled vehicles would have been the exception, and travel on foot the rule. Livestock were moved by droving and shepherding, whilst commodities were carried on men’s backs or in the panniers of pack ponies. The transport methods in this area as shown by Jefferys were much as they would have been since medieval times. It was not until the following century that roads, as we now perceive them, would have started to prevail in the area.

Surfaces were crude, often muddy and impassable in wet conditions. Such repairs as were made consisted of the dumping of stones and brushwood on the surface. As a result, erosion was inevitable, and the deep holloways seen around the area today represent in most cases the combined effects of human and animal feet and running water. Often, as routes became impassable, new routes were made alongside which, in turn, suffered the same fate. There are several examples in this area, notably at Garnett Brow (see the Eldroth to Whelpstone route below).

The Jefferys Map

The Jefferys map of Yorkshire, first published in complete form 1772, was the first detailed and reasonably accurate map of the county. Previous maps had been drawn either by eye and pacing, or by the relatively crude compass traverse method. The Jefferys map was the first to be surveyed by the triangulation method (which remained in use until aerial survey became the norm) and was on the large scale of 1” to the mile. It contained a great deal of information, not only of roads but also of the topography and human landscape. The map was supported by wealthy patrons (who are listed in the complete publication), and they were often flattered by the inclusion of their names and detail of their estates. The map was engraved and printed on a series of 23” square sheets and if arranged to show the whole county would cover an area over eight feet in each dimension9,10.

Crucial to this study was the question of the accuracy of the map. If it achieved accuracy comparable to that of the Ordnance Survey, it would be simple to make an overlay of one to compare with the other. This method was tried, but unfortunately a number of identifiable locations were inaccurately placed on the Jefferys map by up to 700 metres. The accuracy was impressive between some major points (for example, Clapham, Settle, Stainforth and the summit of Ingleborough are drawn in almost exact relative positions), but the roads and the scattered farms are much more loosely recorded. This is probably because the major landmarks were carefully triangulated and measured, with the intervening areas drawn more loosely by hand. In many cases, individual farms are badly misplaced and often their names are confused with neighbouring farms. It is likely that the detail of the map was, on occasions, based on conversations with locals, who could say where a route began and ended, leading the surveyors to insert a credible-looking road on their drawing by guesswork11. The general view is that the map was impressively accurate in its measurement and depiction of main roads, but significantly less reliable on the areas between12

Unfortunately, therefore, the re-construction of the landscape shown in the map requires a more laborious method of field observation combined with comparison of the Jeffery’s map with the nineteenth and twentieth century Ordnance Survey maps. The task was made easier by the fact that some features of the Jefferys map are likely to be more reliable than others. The map included streams and rivers, so if a road is drawn relative to those it helps to determine whether or not it follows the course of the modern road - a particularly good example is the Harden Bridge to Lane Side road described below. Some houses are shown alongside the road, or in the crook of a road junction, and it seems likely that these were accurately recorded as such. Lane Side, again, is an example of this. The use of hachures13 to show the hills and valleys of the landscape is also helpful, as the surveyor was unlikely to misrepresent a valley road as following the top of a ridge.

The high crossing

Before going on to look at some particular routes, there is one key feature to describe. In this area, no less than eight roads going south or south-west converge on a single crossing of the high ground above. Of these, half have joined together by the time they reach the Resting Stone (756615), a clear landmark with an extensive view. It was perhaps so named as a description of its role, being at the top of a long climb and before a difficult and arduous crossing of boggy upland.

From the Resting Stone, the relatively recent creation of Gisburn Forest has obscured much of the way forward, though it consisted of an undefined crossing of moorland, apparently passing to the west of Whelpstone Crag (759591). This upland is very empty today, but in the late eighteenth century would have been a well used route.

Beyond the Whelpstone, the way continued in similar fashion to lower altitudes, after which it separated into a network of roads heading in various directions across the Forest of Bowland and down towards the River Ribble.

From Harden Bridge to Dovenanter

This is alone in the itineraries described here in ultimately crossing the Bowland scarp at Bowland Knotts, rather than by way of the Whelpstone. It would also appear, on first sight, to be the most intact of the old roads in terms of its coincidence with the modern road. This, however, may be deceptive.

Harden Bridge (762678) is unambiguous on the map, being a meeting of several roads and a beck. From there, it is reasonable to suppose that the old road followed the line of the modern Orcaber Lane as far as Orcaber plantation on the left (758674). Indeed, it is possible that it continued on the modern line to the track on the left (754672) that leads to Gayclops. However, there are some indications that the route shown on the map might, perhaps, have taken a different course slightly to the east.

The first of these is the configuration of the wall bounding the road on the east side just to the south of Orcaber plantation, which veers away to the east and aligns with the continuation of the old road south of Gayclops described below. Second is the absence of Orcaber Farm from the map (Oakaber is marked and named, but sufficiently far from the farm’s actual location to be probably an erroneous naming of the nearby farm of Sanderber). The farm stands conspicuously by the side of the modern road, so it seems unlikely that surveyors passing that way would have missed it. Had they followed a route further east, Orcaber would have been less conspicuous and the mistaken identity with Sandaber would be more understandable.

There is no evidence on the ground to indicate a disused route from Orcaber plantation to Gayclops. Let us suppose, though, that the current track that leaves Orcaber Lane at 754672 to access Gayclops is contemporary with the construction of the modern road, and that where that track bends to the right after 50 metres is where it joins the old road. This has then taken the most direct route from Harden Bridge to the unambiguous stretch of old road that follows.

The next section is revealed by climbing the stile where the track bends sharply left to Gayclops (754670). Visible ahead are clear holloways in the field leading down to the stream ahead, where a crude bridge takes the old route and the current footpath into a meadow in the crook of the confluence of Fen Beck and Kettles Beck14. This layout is shown clearly on the map. The way then crossed Kettles Beck and a short section of holloway on the slope beyond suggests that it continued parallel to the modern road. Prior to the construction of Waters Bridge (750669) over the combined becks, this route would have been the most convenient for foot travellers and livestock.

The map suggests that the way forward to the junction with Eldroth Road was also different to the present route. The modern road ascends and descends a drumlin to reach Eldroth Road, where Laneside is visible on the left 100 metres away. Yet the map shows the junction directly adjacent to the western end of the house (747682), and some way east of the junction with the road that now goes towards Keasden. The map’s hachures also show the road contouring low on the drumlin, rather than ascending close to its crest. All of this suggests that the road on the map was parallel and to the east of the modern road.

If all of these interpretations are correct, then the road shown on the map is different to the modern road for about 75% of its length.

The continuation of the road to the south is less confused, following the line of the modern Cragg Lane (other than where disturbed by the railway) as far as Stoops (Stocks) (738641). The upper reaches are not wholly clear, but as there is a rare example of the map showing a road “inclosed” on one side and “open” on the other, the way may have been undefined and only assumed its modern course with the creation of later, higher enclosures.

From Stoops, the way becomes a rough track. One section is a deeply incised holloway, walled on both sides, with a depth that suggests that it may have existed as a watercourse before it came into use as a road. It then rises on to the still unimproved land, notionally reaching the main road from Keasden near Green Gill (727635), though in eighteenth century use both it and the road up the valley would have been undefined. It continued in this fashion up to Bowland Knotts and beyond.

From Eldroth to the Whelpstone

There were two ways from Eldroth to what is now known as King’s Gate (758643), which then joined together to ascend to the Resting Stone (756615) and thence to the Whelpstone.

The first of these left Eldroth Road where the village hall now stands (763654) and took an almost straight line towards King’s Gate. It was still in place on the 1846 OS, but shortly afterwards it was severed by the construction of the railway. The road survives south of the railway as an overgrown, walled lane. Whether it joined School Lane at King’s Gate or slightly further north is unclear.

The alternative and more major route from Eldroth survives as School Lane. Before the railway, it began almost on the doorstep of School House (755655), then followed its present line, mostly between widely spaced walls, as it climbed along the crest of a slight ridge where the boggy terrain was at its driest.

The detailed layout around Kings Gate is unclear, with various depressions that may indicate an abandoned road line. Indeed, the road may have taken a variety of different courses over the centuries. A possible line here would veer west from the modern lane about 50 metres north of Kings Gate, taking a sweeping curve to join Garnett Brow Lane a similar distance along.

From this point (757642) onwards the way is clearer. Initially, Garnet Brow Lane was wide and walled, the excess width now being occupied by a stand of trees. Beyond the trees the width was maintained as evidenced by the hollow in the adjacent field. Then, at a sharp bend in the modern road15 the old road continues straight.

It is not difficult to visualise how difficult the next section would have been in anything other than very dry weather. There was no alternative but to make the short, steep ascent of Garnett Brow, where the ground has no peat cover and is easily eroded. This is the beginning of the (still) unenclosed and unimproved land of Water Garth. Initially, though, drovers and packhorse men were constrained by its narrowness, and their constant search for a passable route created an array of parallel holloways more dramatic than any others in the area. Not surprisingly, it is little used today, though was still the only way to reach the farms of Garnett Brow, Chapman Bank and possibly Ravenshaw during the nineteenth century and probably into the twentieth.

From the crest of Garnett Brow, the going became slightly easier, being wider and at an easier gradient. An undefined route of almost 3 kilometres over featureless peat moor reaches the Resting Stone. Similar terrain continued for another 2 kilometres to the Whelpstone, before the road began a descent and a choice of onward routes.

From Lawkland Green to the Whelpstone

The road through Lawkland was the main road from Giggleswick to Lancaster and Westmorland prior to the construction of the Keighley-Kendal turnpike. It offered opportunities to depart in a southerly direction, one of the principal examples being the road heading south from Lawkland Green (781656) This route has survived, with different status on different stretches, and offers much of interest.

Passing first through Lawkland Green Farm, the way becomes a well-defined holloway as it descends to Stalpes, an outlying barn (780653) where a stream is forded. Just before the stream is reached, a deep, narrow holloway can be seen on the left, suggesting a packhorse path that existed before the wider adjacent track came into use. This aligns with a clapper bridge by the barn.

The road then enters a large field, being an example of where the map shows an “inclosed road” yet where the likely meaning was a road within an enclosure. The surface of this field is much scarred, possibly because of traffic forming holloways prior to the field being effectively drained. The way was obliterated for a short distance by the railway, but soon becomes a track that rises up to join Eldroth Road16 (777648).

The route now follows Eldroth Road as far as Four Lane Ends (776646), where it continues straight on and is known as Stackhouse Lane17. After 200 metres, the modern road (which is not shown on the map, and may not have then existed) turns sharply to the right and becomes Black Bank Road, but Stackhouse Lane continues on as the access lane to Accerhill Hall (Oakril Hall), following a deep holloway as it climbs.

As the road, now a gravel track, approaches Accerhill Hall, a depression is seen veering left towards a gate. This can be followed through the gate to reveal the old road climbing along the top of a steep hillside that drops down into the glacial run-off channel of Gill Beck. Approaching Routster, the way swings right then left to join a walled lane, all the while being visible as an eroded depression in the field.

The walled onward route takes a sharp right (766631) into another walled and deeply hollowed route, no longer travelled, which emerges onto the open moor after 500 metres. The sharp turn in the road probably dates from the enclosure of the fields. Indeed, prior to enclosure it is possible that the normal route followed the townships boundary line a little to the south, where the ground would have been better drained. An alternative explanation is that the change in orientation originates in the need to stay within the de Mowbray lands, discussed earlier.

On joining the open common the way becomes undefined, with travellers finding their own way over difficult ground. The map would suggest passing over the top of Sand Holes Hill (758620) on the way to the Resting Stone and on to the Whelpstone.

From Swawbeck to the Whelpstone — the eastern route

Two routes that link Swawbeck (Snobeck)(802628) to the main upland crossing at the Whelpstone are shown on the map. Both are full of interest and so both are described here. The first of these is the eastern route.

For the first 200 metres or so, the old road followed the modern motor road, turning left towards Rome. At a sharp right bend (798628) the route can be followed straight ahead on a walled track, shortly becoming shallow holloways continuing in the same direction through a field. (This is another good example of where the map shows an “inclosed road” meaning a road through an area of enclosed land.)

The route meets Cockett Lane18 near Lumb (797622). Curiously, the deeply incised Cockett Lane is not marked on the map, though it is inconceivable that it would not have been an obvious feature at that time. The best inference is probably that Cockett Lane had been abandoned as a thoroughfare at an earlier date, possibly because of waterlogging, and replaced by the routes described here that follow higher ground. Certainly, Cockett Lane had a long history as a route, with a good example of a constructed raised causeway to cross the boggy land at Cockett Moss still intact (787619).

From its crossing of Cockett Lane, the way is not obvious on the ground. It climbed directly towards Ackworth and passed close to its eastern gable end, a way still in use on the 1846 OS. The modern footpath passes further south. From Ackworth, the route is shown as continuing due south into Coney Garth, so named because it was a managed rabbit warren. Pillow mounds (artificial warrens) can be seen19. On the southern side of Coney Garth is a clear shallow holloway marking the descent of the route via a packhorse causeway over a gill to its junction with the broader track of Swainstead Raike (793613).

Only that section of Swainstead Raike west of this point is shown on the map - as in most instances, routes used only for access to farms were not included. It is shown as the continuation of the road down from Coney Garth, bending gradually towards a westerly orientation and meeting, then following the modern motor road from 789609 to just beyond Lower Sheepwash (786610)

Taking the track to the left reveals one of the surviving gems of the area, with the route looking much as it would have done to the surveyors. The rough, boggy path takes a short dogleg route to cross Rathmell Beck by a charming and largely intact packhorse bridge20 before climbing in similarly waterlogged fashion on the other bank. This way was still in use at the time of the first 1846 OS, and has been preserved by virtue of the modern vehicular track that bypasses it.

Re-joining the track, the old and modern routes combine for over a kilometre, passing the left turn towards Rathmell via Black Leach that is also shown on the map. Where it crosses Hanover Gill (771608) a track not marked on the map departs to the left for the now unoccupied farm of Bull Hurst (Bull Hirst). The main track shortly fades away. At this point on the map it is shown as “open”, heading in an undefined way on to the unenclosed land of Rathmell Common and thence to join the main high level crossing between the Resting Stone and the Whelpstone. Hereabouts it also meets the other, western, route that a traveller might have used between Swawbeck and the Whelpstone.

From Swawbeck to the Whelpstone — the western route

The modern road west from Swawbeck passes Field Gate (Fell Yate) and Grain House and continues to Paley Green and a junction with the Giggleswick — Eldroth Road. However, the map shows only the first section of this, as far as Field Gate. Whether it existed as a local route (which it did on the 1846 OS) is not clear. However, the route shown on the map is much more fascinating.

Field Gate is shown to the north of the road, rather than the south. Given the lie of the land, and the tendency of the map to be very approximate in its placement of farms and minor roads, the most likely interpretation is that the old road passed between the farmhouse of Field Gate and its large barn, rising up into the enclosure beyond where it joined the line of the modern footpath from near Grain House. Over the crest of the hill, it followed the modern footpath descending in the direction of Rome, crossing a stream at 793630. At the stream crossing, the banks are substantially reinforced with stones, suggesting a possible former clapper bridge close to the modern wooden footbridge.

After crossing, the route departs from the modern path and bears right up a distinct holloway where a diagonal route was taken to ease the steep gradient. From the top of this rise, the route is apparent as a number of parallel holloways that converge with the modern motor road at 789628, the lowest point where the deeply incised gill could readily be crossed. Once across the gill, the route is apparent initially as a deep holloway on the right hand side of the modern road. As the gradient eases, so the holloway becomes shallower and with careful examination it is clear where it converges with the modern road a little way further on. This is a very impressive example of how the abandoned trajectory of an old road can be seen on the ground, even to the extent of sections of wall that have been built to fill in where it passed through a wall line at an earlier time.

Holloways near Rome

(This interpretation is perhaps a little too tidy, unfortunately. The holloways near Rome also continue north of the old route from Fieldgate, suggesting that an early road parallel to the modern motor road to Rome was once in use, though not shown on the map.)

The old and modern roads now continue as one, passing on the right at 785631 the descending track of Parson’s Close Lane, which in its upper section has survived little changed, though now rather overgrown21. Our route continued along the modern road past Lower Wham and became an ill-defined route up towards the Whelpstone, joining the western route from Swawbeck in due course. It may have circumvented the enclosures around Sandford (772621), though the more likely interpretation is that those enclosures were made later.

A note for walkers

Much the best way of interpreting this article is on foot. Any of the routes can be followed as described, but in most cases this means a long uphill walk ending in a rather remote location. Those with use of two cars and an inclination to reverse the description could undertake most of the routes with much less expenditure of effort. Other possibilities are:

A circuit of Lawkland Green/Accerhill Hall/a high point at 766631/Howith/Kings Gate (with a diversion along to see the holloways a little way along Garnett Brow Lane to the south-west)/School Lane/Eldroth Road to 770649/ field path to Lawkland Hall/Lawkland Green.

A circuit of Giggleswick Station/Swawbeck/Field Gate/footpath to Rome/road to Wham, Sandford and Sheepwash (diverting to see the packhorse bridge)/Swainstead Raike/Coney Garth/Cockett Lane/Lumb/footpath due north to join the walled track at 797627/ Swawbeck/Giggleswick Station.

Ascent of the Whelpstone from Sheepwash, using the old road to 771607, then the footpath to Whelpstone Lodge via Bull Hurst, Black Hill and Owlshaw, then ascending the Whelpstone initially by the path going west from Whelpstone Lodge before finally finding any convenient way. Return by the same route, or descend the road and choose one of several footpaths on the left to find a return to Sheepwash.

On a clear and dry day, start at King’s Gate and follow Garnett Brow Lane, where the holloways are visible ahead. After initial difficulties in waterlogged ground, ascend the holloways then climb the moor heading due south past a walled enclosure to the outcrop of the Resting Stone. Enjoy the view, then return via the end of the abandoned walled lane at 762628. The wall may be followed north-west down to the start. This walk is in many places very featureless and boggy, so the precautions of taking a compass and waterproof footwear are strongly recommended. This walk should be reserved for a clear day unless confident in navigation and wishing to gain an authentic impression of travel in the eighteenth century.


The author is particularly grateful to the Digital Archives Association for permission to use an extract from their CD of the Jefferys map. He is also grateful to his wife and family for putting up with his obsession with the “old roads”, and to those farmers on whose land he may unwittingly have trespassed. Particular thanks are due to Phoebe the Dalmatian for so willingly accompanying him on the endless trudges around the area. All illustrations, except the extract from the Jefferys map, are by the author, as are any errors or omissions.

References and Further Reading

  • Arthurton, R.S., Johnson, E.W. and Mundy, D.J.C. Geology of the Country Around Settle. London: HMSO, 1988
  • Brayshaw, T. and Robinson, R.M. A History of the Ancient Parish of Giggleswick, etc. London: Halton, 1932
  • Burnett, R. The Roman ‘A65’: The Roman Road from Ilkley to Kendal. Bentham: Antonine Publications, 2004
  • Butlin, R.A Historical Maps, in Butlin, R.A. (Ed.) Historical Atlas of North Yorkshire. Otley: Westbury, 2003, pp 242-52
  • Crawford, J. Streets and Trails of the Yorkshire Dales. Barnsley: Wharncliffe Books, 2000
  • Henderson, A. Rabbits and Rabbit Warrens in Butlin, R.A. (Ed.) Historical Atlas of North Yorkshire. Otley: Westbury, 2003, pp 159-62
  • Higham, M. The Boundary of Burton-in-Lonsdale Chase in Yorkshire Archaeological Journal, 66, 1994, pp 91—105
  • Hewitt, R. Map of a Nation: A Biography of the Ordnance Survey. London: Granta, 2010.
  • Jefferys, T. Topographical Survey of the County of York. 1771. Published in digital form by the Digital Archives Association (
  • Ordnance Survey, First Edition 6”: 1mile. Published in digital form as a set for the West Riding by the Digital Archives Association (
  • Raistrick, A. Green Roads in the Mid-Pennines. Ashbourne: Moorland Publishing, 1978
  • Smith, A.H. The Place Names of the West Riding of Yorkshire, Part 6: The Wapentakes of East & West Staincliffe and Ewcross. Cambridge: CUP, 1961
  • Stephens, Tony. Landscapes and Townscapes of North Craven. Long Preston: Long Preston Heritage Group, 2011
  • Wright, G.N. Roads and Trackways of the Yorkshire Dales. Ashbourne: Moorland Publishing, 1985


  1. The full set is obtainable in digital form through
  2. A modern copy of the OS map, which shows the areas accessible by virtue of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000, is particularly useful, as these access areas often correspond with unimproved and unenclosed land. The distinction between these lands and enclosed lands is important to a number of features of the early road pattern.
  3. This area is shown on sheets 113, 131, 132 and 148, surveyed during 1846-7. These are obtainable economically as a complete West Riding set in digital form, through
  4. Burnett (2004)
  5. See Brayshaw and Robinson (1932)
  6. Searchable version available on
  7. See Higham (1994)
  8. See, for example, Crawford (2000), Raistrick (1978), Wright (1985)
  9. The map was widely plagiarised by other map publishers. That they did not always exercise as much care as they might is charmingly evidenced in Cary in 1787 and then John Aiken in 1795, on both of whose maps are clearly marked “Blyth Garth Chapel�. Blyth Garth is a farmhouse some 400 metres from the chapel, yet the layout of the Jefferys labeling (albeit in different script styles) could easily lead to this error of copying.
  10. Jefferys went into partnership with one William Faden, who inherited the company after the death of Jefferys. It was Faden who was subsequently appointed to engrave the earliest Ordnance Survey maps. See Hewitt (2010)
  11. A possible example of this most improper approach occurs in the area between Tipperthwaite, Rome, Routster and Four Lane Ends. Out of this area, another interesting example is Ingleborough where three high farms are entirely omitted, suggesting that the surveyors did not venture to higher altitudes. (Given that they measured the height of Ingleborough as nearly 5800 feet this may have been an understandable caution.)
  12. See Butlin (2003), pp246-8
  13. Finely drawn lines to indicate changes in height and steepness, used before the introduction of contours by the Ordnance Survey in the mid-nineteenth century.
  14. (Between the two becks the map shows a junction with an “inclosed road� joining from the east. There is no evidence of that road now near to the junction. However, that road is shown on the map as linking this point with Shepherd Gate in Lawkland, where there is a stretch of abandoned walled lane (772664). Somehow, this route found its way across the treacherous terrain of Lawkland Moss and Austwick Moss, apparently passing to the south of Middlesber. It appears to have crossed Fen Beck close to the present footbridge (757667). This is an intriguing section of road, which awaits a particularly dry summer for further investigation.)
  15. The continuation of the modern road is also shown on the map proceeding to Kettlesbeck and then Stoops (Stocks).
  16. Examination of the lie of the walls here indicates that Eldroth Road joined this road, rather than vice versa as at present, suggesting that this road may pre-date Eldroth Road.
  17. The modern road crosses a raised embankment across a poorly drained hollow, which may be built on one of several examples of raised causeways in the area.
  18. Not shown on the map, a footpath now links Swawbeck to Lumb. It has been suggested that this was at one time the northerly continuation of Cockett Lane. See Stephens (2011) p 59.
  19. For further reading on medieval and post-medieval rabbit farming, see Henderson (2003). Stephens (2011), pp 114-5. This suggests that this warren may have existed as part of the Sawley Abbey estate c. 1240
  20. Stephens (2011) suggests that this may be Frerebridge, mentioned in the records of Sawley Abbey in about 1240.
  21. The network of lanes between this point, Tipperthwaite and Four Lane Ends is particularly confusing on the map, which is likely to be a combination of some roads having fallen out of use and surveyor’s approximation.

Fig. 1 Extract from the Jefferys Map of Yorkshire, 1771
Fig. 2 The Resting Stone, towards Ingleborough
Fig. 3 From the Whelpstone towards the Resting Stone
Fig. 4 The holloways on the steep ascent of Garnett Brow
Fig. 5 Cockett Lane
Fig. 6 Road descending Coney Garth
Fig. 7 Packhorse causeway near Swainstead Raike
Fig. 8 The old road and packhorse bridge near Sheepwash
Fig. 9 The holloway of the old road where it meets the modern road, above Rome

Fig. 1 Extract from the Jefferys Map of Yorkshire, 1771

Fig. 2 The Resting Stone, towards Ingleborough

Fig. 3 From the Whelpstone towards the Resting Stone

Fig. 4 The holloways on the steep ascent of Garnett Brow

Fig. 5 Cockett Lane

Fig. 6 Road descending Coney Garth

Fig. 7 Packhorse causeway near Swainstead Raike

Fig. 8 The old road and packhorse bridge near Sheepwash

Fig. 9 The holloway of the old road where it meets the modern road, above Rome