NCHT Mince Pie Walk

Leader: Michael Southworth — 11 December 2016
 North Craven 
 Heritage Trust 

It was a cool and overcast Sunday afternoon, but over thirty Trust members and a few of their friends both human and canine gathered on the Green outside the Gamecock Inn at Austwick for the annual Mince Pie walk, led this year by our past Chairman Michael Southworth. The object of the walk was to see the Austwick clapper bridges nearest the village centre, one further afield being left to another day, in the interests of maximising quality time with the mince pies afterwards! Clapper bridges are large flat slabs of stone resting on the stream bank or on stone piers and Austwick has had a large number of such bridges, some now having disappeared. We left the Green on the road northeastwards, pausing outside Battle Hill, a house of 1673 according to the datestone, which is currently being renovated. Turning right off the road onto a path shortly after, we soon reached the first clapper bridge across the Austwick Beck, also the site of a ford. Continuing via the track known as Wood Lane, we came to the eighteenth century Austwick Bridge, on the site of a much older bridge, with an ancient ford still visible on the downstream side. Apparently there was also a clapper bridge here across the Beck until the early twentieth century. We walked forward towards the village centre and turned into Pant Lane. The word “pant” is derived from the word “pont”, a bridge or valley, and a path soon took us to two clapper bridges across the Beck downstream from the main bridge and where the water bifurcates around a small island. The bridge slabs here are of Helwith Bridge Silurian flagstone. A few yards further on we stopped to see a relic of the past, an old privy straddling a rivulet - a convenience with constant running water for the owners, but presumably not so good for those downstream! We were now at the back gate of Beck House, where Gwen and Graham Cleverly were waiting to greet us with mince pies and tea pots at the ready, and thanks to them the afternoon concluded with a most enjoyable social gathering.

(With acknowledgements to the NCHT publication by Sylvia Harrop - “Austwick: a historical walk round the village”).