A walk around Airton

3 April 2005
Leader - Dorothy Hemsworth

This excellent walk has been described in previous journals, by Enid Parker in 1997 and by Dorothy Hemsworth (in detail) in 2000 (see website). However it is not necessary to apologise for repeating the walk in 2005. In surprisingly warm weather we met at Airton Green for the five-mile walk full of interest and historical features. From the ancient village with its manor house (for sale) and very unusual squatters house on the green we took the farm lane to Kirk Syke which has a name which indicates that the site may have been used for a church before the one at Kirkby Malham was built. Further on a large barn was passed which still contains slate boskins in good condition and it is well worth inspection. Next is the village of Bell Busk which like Airton was a mill village. Using the Red Bridge we crossed the Otterburn Beck with the old Bell Busk railway station on the right. Over the Aire bridge and past the site of an old silk mill and millpond we walked towards the Ordnance survey trig. point on the top of Haw Crag. Normally there is an excellent view from there in every direction but conditions, though warm, were misty. A direction map of what can be seen from this point was included in the previous report in the Journal for 2000. We then followed the Pennine way and the river Aire upstream, eventually reaching Airton Bridge. Several herons were seen on the way. The mill at Airton Bridge stands on an ancient site used for milling corn and cotton, later as a factory for Dettol and Reckitts Blue (used in washing white clothes) and in 1960 for breeding poultry. The mill was converted into housing in 1972. We finished the walk in the Quaker Friends Meeting House founded by William Ellis in 1700 following the building of his own house opposite in 1696. William was a linen weaver who was a very active Friend and who travelled widely in Ireland and America. The Meeting House is being renovated and is in very good condition.