Rylstone -Hetton-Flasby-Rylstone

5 March 2006: Leader - Dorothy Hemsworth

Leaving Rylstone, where we parked by the pond, fifteen walkers passed under the railway bridge and followed the footpath to Hetton. This involved crossing Hetton Beck on a clapper bridge comprising an enormous slab of stone with a deep groove caused by thousands of footsteps of mill-workers going to and fro in days long gone. After walking on the road through Hetton for a little way, we turned left on a footpath which led us back to the banks of Hetton Beck, which then became Flasby Beck, taking us into the hamlet of Flasby. On leaving here we passed the bottom of Sunter Gill, and along Flasby Moor Side, passing a handsome barn with a datestone showing “1695 EC”. After Hell Gap plantation we walked underneath the railway line and back into Rylstone. This is a very pleasant walk which we achieved in perfect weather, with blue skies, a snow covering on the hills, and with perfect visibility. The railway line is part of the Yorkshire Dales Railway, which formerly ran from Skipton to Grassington (although Grassington Station was actually in Threshfield). The first sod was cut by Walter Morrison on 7 June, 1900 and the line opened on 29 July, 1902. It was originally proposed to continue up Wharfedale to Kettlewell and Buckden, creating a tunnel under Buckden Pike to Wensleydale and thus link up with the N.E.R. Garsdale/Northallerton line near Aysgarth, but this proposal came to naught. It was always a single-line branch, with one intermediate station at Rylstone, near to where the level-crossing is today. In 1923 the line was taken over by the L.M.S., which ran it until 22 Sept.1930 when the passenger service was withdrawn (apart from occasional summer excursion trains) In September, 1962, the signal was removed and the signal box closed, the line then becoming a “one engine in steam” branch, with all points converted to hand operation. The signal box was taken over by the Upper Wharfedale Fell Rescue Association, who, in October, 1962 moved the building, which weighed 8 tons, a quarter of a mile to the forecourt of Grassington Station, - an operation which took 6 hours. The box was finally dismantled in 1972.

The station at Grassington (Threshfield) was located next to where the present Retirement Home is situated, this building being originally the “Wilson’s Arms”- named after Sir Matthew Wilson of Gargrave, who was the Chairman of the Yorkshire Dales Railway Board. The hotel was built to accommodate railway travellers and tourists.

On 22 August, 1969 the most northerly section of track was lifted, the line thus terminating at Swinden Quarry, which it still serves, moving vast quantities of material therefrom on a daily basis.