Leader John Chapman
5 December 1999
Meeting Place Langcliffe School
The principal purpose of this walk was to visit the
Hoffman kiln, less than a mile north of Langcliffe village.
This made it a fairly short afternoon trip but in
December there is much to be said for this. One reason
for wanting to renew acquaintance with the kiln
was the imminence of the project to conserve the
quarry and what remains of its lime-burning heritage.
In addition to its industrial significance, the site has
considerable ecological importance, with rare plants,
many bird species and, it is said, a bat roost in the kiln
itself. All these factors will need to be taken into
account in the conservation project.
From the village we crossed the Settle-Stainforth road and then the footbridge over the railway line (with its recently renewed rails and sleepers) to Langcliffe Mill. There was, Jim Nelson told us, a corn mill on this site in the twelfth century, built by the monks of Furness Abbey. The present buildings, initially constructed as a cotton mill in the late eighteenth century and enlarged in the early nineteenth, were powered by the waters from the extensive mill reservoir. The water wheels were replaced by turbines at the end of the nineteenth century and these were later supplemented by steam to provide power when the water supply was inadequate. Interestingly, when I referred to the mill reservoir as a ‘lodge’, this merely elicited blank looks. Here I was told, it is always called a ‘dam’. It seems that ‘lodge’ is the term used further south (e.g. in Derbyshire and probably elsewhere) but is unknown here.
The walk continued along the track beside the reservoir to the group of mill-workers’ cottages and to the weir on the Ribble. From here, the path on the east bank of the Ribble took us back to the Settle- Stainforth road and to the tunnel under the railway leading to the site of the old lime works and the Hoffman kiln. A useful and very readable account of the kiln appears in David S. Johnson’s book on walks in the southern Yorkshire Dales and also in an article by J. Playfer in an earlier number of the NCHT’s Journal (see references). It was no coincidence that David S. Johnson was with us and gave us a fascinating account of the history and operation of the kiln and of the other workings on the site. Return was by the path southwards over the fields to Langcliffe. Tea and mince pies at Rock House undid all the beneficial effects of the afternoon’s exercise.
Selected ReferencesJohnson, D. ‘Discovery Walks in the Yorkshire Dales: The Southern Dales’, Sigma Leisure, 1996 (see pages 28-30).
Nelson, J. ‘Langcliffe Mills’, North Craven Heritage Trust Journal, pp. 7-9, 1996.
Playfer, J. ‘The Hoffman Kiln at Langcliffe’, North Craven Heritage Trust Journal, pp. 6-7, 1994.
Langcliffe Hall Doorway Maureen Ellis
Clapham 1701 Diana Kaneps