Oxenber Wood - Feizor - Wharfe

2 May 2004
Leader - Michael Southworth

The walk started outside the Game Cock in Austwick and took us up into Oxenber Wood, across to Meldings Barn on Hale Lane, up the bridleway to Feizor, over Feizor Nick and down across the fields to Wharfe. Finally we returned along the road to Austwick where some of us enjoyed a pint in the pub!

On Oxenber we saw a fine display of the Spring flowers which were in full bloom on a sunny afternoon. Primroses, violets, orchids, wood anemones, cowslips and oxlips to name just a few. In the lane from Meldings Barn we looked at a clump of the relatively rare Herb Paris which is a remnant of the ancient woodland which once covered the area.

Passing through the hamlet of Feizor we noted that this dated back to Anglian times (9th Century) and that the origin of the name was Fechs Schieling, meaning the summer pasture of Fech, who was Lord of the Manor of Giggleswick at the time of the Norman Conquest.

In Wharfe, which is a Norse settlement (the name is derived from Hweorf, meaning a 'turning') we saw the original entry lane into the settlement, which extends to Mastiles Lane and hence to Fountains Abbey to the east and to Furness Abbey to the west. We also looked at the remnants of two corn mills which were at one time active in Wharfe, one of which later became a cotton mill before being burned down in the early 1900's.

Finally, before returning to Austwick, we noted that there had been yet another mill on the site of what is now a dwelling called Silloth House. This mill was employed in cutting stone and like the others drew its power from Austwick Beck