6 June 2004
Leaders - David & Hilary Holdsworth
 North Craven 
 Heritage Trust 

The walking started and finished at Crummack Farm, where we had permission to park a few cars. We had met in Austwick and packed the walkers into the minimum number of cars.

In so far as the walk had a theme over and above enjoying marvellous views on a fine June day, it was to appreciate the impact of the North Craven geology on the human activities in the area. Right at the outset it is easy to see how the limestone blanket that covers the Yorkshire Dales has been eroded away here at its edge to reveal the older folded rocks underneath. Here in Crummackdale we see the folded hump of this rock just below the farm. This hump extends under the limestone ridge that separates Curmmackdale from the geologically similar Ribblesdale, where that same rock is quarried today to provide the chippings used to surface our roads.

On the way to Beggar's Stile, there are remnants of second or third century human habitation above the head of Austwick beck. The spring here was likely to have been the source of water for early inhabitants. This is the largest of a line of springs that runs along the base of the limestone, where the water has permeated the slightly soluble limestone and then emerged upon meeting the impervious older rock.

Somewhat higher up the path are the remains of a settlement from perhaps the 13th century. There are clear outlines of buildings and of field boundaries. Very little research has been done on these settlements, but the evidence of human construction is undeniable.

After crossing Beggar's Stile (the only stile on the walk), our route was over the limestone pavement to our right. This is of a rather different limestone (micrite) from the familiar pavement at Malham Cove and elsewhere (sparite), and weathers more easily to give a lot of loose material. Much of this pavement was used in Victorian times by Reginald Farrar in the construction of gardens for friends of the Prince of Wales whose garden at Sunningdale was much admired - and much copied. Next, we descended the bridleway to Moughton Whetstone Hole, where the curiously striped rock (see picture) has led to various geological theories, none of which is universally accepted. There is a tradition that these stones were popular as sharpeners for razors in past times, hence the name whetstone. The bridleway continues over the vertically bedded rocks that underlie the Dales' classic limestone, to the clapper bridge by the sheep dubs, where a new plaque shows how the stream here played an important part in local farming. The lane back to Crummack Farm from here crosses a large slab of bedrock upon which can be clearly seen the scoring marks from the glacier that formed the valley.

Acknowledgements: to Peter Haw for permission to park cars at his farm, to Alan King for most of the historical information, and to Brian Hirst who provided some geological explanation.

Moughton whetstone

Moughton whetstone