6th September 1998
Leader -Jill Sykes
Meeting Place - Austwick Post Office
|The walk started from Austwick and followed signs of the past
which still remain in the landscape. Taking a northerly footpath from Town
Head, by Dear Bought' crossing walls by ladder stiles, we found many straight
joints in the walls. These were blocked up gateways from early 19th century
enclosures which allowed passage along the routes then in use up the valley.
There were 'hollow-ways' to follow or see, marking these same routes.
At Sowerthwaite, with the permission of the farmers concerned, we departed from the right of way and crossed Crummack Lane (the new enclosed road up the valley) and wandered among the 'Norber Erratics' - Silurian Gritstone rocks brought here by ice movement and left perched on limestone pedestals.
A grassy unused track across the shoulder of Norber brought us to a well preserved lime kiln. David Johnson's article in the 1998 Journal was useful to us here. I had been able to calculate that one burning in this kiln gave enough lime to spread on 11 hectares (27 acres) of lightly acidic soil. This is a kiln that David hopes will be preserved. We had passed a round 'dish' about 12 metres across, with a definite bank or dam on the downhill side! Was this a dewpond for watering pack ponies? The limestone for burning was all round us, but fuel would have needed to be brought and the processed lime taken away.
There were wonderful views from the top of Robin Proctor's Scar (another story here) onto the dry tarn below. This tarn I believe to have been drained when the Farrers first came to Clapham and created the lake.
We rejoined the path beneath the Scar, and made for Thwaite Lane, finding two slate lined cists which appeared to be the remnants of robbed-out (Bronze Age?) burial cairns.
Moving westwards on the lane for a short way, we then by-passed Clapham, dropping downhill by the Parish Boundary Wall (again with the permissions of the landowner and the farmer concerned), past another burial cairn, to the Clapham- Austwick path. Two stiles have recently been renewed, using through steps cut from old gravestones, the inscriptions being set on the underside. I'm sorry we have not got a photograph of our Chairman on his back, only a few inches above the ground, trying to read the lettering!
Then it was a quick tramp back to Austwick, past the Iron Age settlement, the Round Wood (sadly disappearing because the broken wall allows animals to graze in it, therefore stopping woodland regeneration) and the terraced field systems (mediaeval?).
Austwick is a Norse name, meaning East Dairy Farm, so presumably settled by the Vikings, but there must have been plenty of human activity before - and much since.
'A Tragic Story - Dear Bought
Dear Bought was given its name as the result of a disagreement between two brothers. When their father died one of the brothers inherited the whole lot, leaving the other dispossessed but he kicked up a fuss. The bickering went on for so long that the lucky brother agreed to a wager. If his dispossessed brother could hand mow a huge meadow within one day and have it completed by nightfall, he could have the farm and be damned.
The brother took on the challenge and began his seeming impossible task at first light. He drove himself hard all day and far into the evening determined to prove himself. Indeed he did, completing the job just before night fill He strode back to claim his prize, had a drink of water.... and dropped dead. There could be a moral here! - Quoted fiom Discovery Walks in the Yorkshire Dales (The Southern Dales)' by David Johnson.
Photo: Jill Sykes
Courtesy of Leeds Public Library