Walking: Quiet going in the foothills of the Yorkshire Dales

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Here is a fine circuit through the foothills of the Dales – completely off the beaten track (you won’t see a soul!)

It features stirring views of that little terrier of a peak, Beamsley Beacon, and with more extensive panoramas northwards towards the hazy outlines of Simon’s Seat and Barden Moor.

But it’s the solitude which scores the heaviest; what a joy to wander through an untouched world – it feels a bit like pioneering!

Addingham is a Saxon settlement - this is the place of Adda’s people - and, indeed, a Saxon church is recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086. That original house of worship played a part in a little piece of Yorkshire history when, in 867AD, the Danes stormed York.

The Saxon Archbishop Wulfhere fled the city and is said to have taken refuge at this far-flung Christian outpost in the Dales. The present church, dating from the 1400s, contains a 9th-century preaching cross, believed to be a relic of the Saxon building.

Addingham’s long agricultural heritage gave way in the 18th century to a more prosperous future through the foresight of one man, John Cunliffe (1742-1813). Cunliffe, a yeoman farmer, moved with the times during the Industrial Revolution by establishing a worsted-spinning mill, Low Mill, by the River Wharfe on the eastern fringe of the village in 1787 (the mill site is now covered with houses).

Up to that time, weaving and spinning had been a cottage industry and evidence of this is still to be found in the back streets of Addingham where a number of three-storey houses survive, the top floor being taken over by the workers. Another mill, High Mill, situated by the Wharfe on the northern edge of the community, followed and by the 1830s the two establishments were employing a workforce of 300. High Mill has also been converted into houses.

John Cunliffe’s grandson was the famed Samuel Cunliffe-Lister, owner of Manningham Mills, Bradford. He was one of the greatest of all the textile magnates and the man who bequeathed Lister Park to Bradford. He acquired the Swinton Park estate, near Masham, and was created Baron Masham of Swinton. He died, aged 91, in 1906. His descendants are now Earls of Swinton.

ADDINGHAM LOW MOOR

5 ½ miles: Allow 2 ½ – 3 ½ hours. Map: OL21 South Pennines

From Old Station Way, re-enter Main Street and turn left along it in the direction of Skipton and follow it through the village, passing The Swan and then The Sailor to arrive at a tile showroom at Townhead Trading Centre and spot the fingerpost on righthand side of road.

Walk up through the centre of the trading estate (Andrew Green on your right) to a small metal gate at end of all the buildings with the Marchup Beck on your right. Now go a quarter left up the banking – path boarded on its righthand side – and then go half left up the field to the houses and turn right along top edge of field, past houses.

Descend to enter a road and take the path opposite. This lovely beck-side interlude leads to a joining with the Marchup Beck at a fingerpost, footbridge and stepping stones (of the easy variety!). Cross the footbridge and turn right across the stepping stones and go up the steps on far banking.

At top of slope, turn right out to the B6160 Silsden road, cross it to a kissing gate and fingerpost (ignore arrow) and go straight ahead towards houses for a few yards only to the end of the play area and then turn left up the field, staying by right edge of field along the backs of houses.

At top of field, enter a road and turn right. At road junction (Turner Lane), turn left past a “No Through Road” sign and follow the road up to the A65. Cross this racetrack with great care, go through walkers’ gate and immediately turn left to enter a road and follow this (A65 to your left).

After about 200 yards, turn first right up the entry road to Oak Tree Farm. Go past the farm and continue along the unmade Parson’s Lane for the journey up to Addingham Low Moor. Eventually, spot a tower to your front left.

This is a sighting or survey tower built by engineers in the 1850s during the construction of nearby Silsden Reservoir and the associated Barden Aqueduct, a three-arch span at Swartha Wood on the eastern fringe of Silsden.

On arriving at a fork in the vehicle track, take the left branch (fingerpost), through the lefthand gate, when Parson’s Lane becomes a wide green lane – stay on left side of track, soon picking up an old paved packman’s trod. Go past a brick barn, through a gate across the track to spot the gate ahead with stone stile to its left at the point where Parson’s Lane sweeps left.

1: Cross the stile and go up field slightly left towards a gate with Moorcock Hall Farm beyond. There is a stone stile to right of the gate. Cross it and follow the line of telegraph wires up to Moorcock Hall. Go through metal gate into premises and straight ahead on the main track through the centre of the property with a brick building on your right, over a cobbled forecourt, past the main house and exit along the access drive.

On arriving in a country road (Bank Lane), turn right for about 300 yards to a fingerpost on your right. Take this path, going a quarter left up the field and making sure you keep looking back over your shoulder to make sure you are in line with the fingerpost, avoiding the temptation to drift leftwards.

On brow of field, two wind turbines pop into view – descend the slope aiming well to the right of the first wind turbine and just left of a disturbed area of earth and spot the stone stile (yellow tape) in the crenellated wall below. Cross it, go half left to a gate and then half right to the next gate within 20 yards.

Now go straight up middle of field with wall 30 yards to your right and Bank End Farm to your left. A stone-step gap stile with waymark appears ahead – cross it and go half right across the field corner to another stone stile. Cross it and go half right to join the wall and turn left along it with Beamsley Beacon to your right and Simon’s Seat and Barden Moor to your front left.

Continue by wall to ladder stile, cross it and go slightly right down the field aiming for the summit of Beamsley Beacon and then, when a pile of stones appears at bottom of field, aim just right of this to pass through a gate.

2: Now follow a track a quarter left down the field to close with the wall and then bear right along the wall. On passing a drinking trough, bear left with wall to fingerpost and gate to enter lane.

This is the line of a 4,000-year-old prehistoric trackway between Ilkley and Skipton used by Bronze Age metal traders from Ireland when they crossed through the Pennines via the Aire Gap on their way to the east coast ports and the Continent. In the 1st century AD, the route was taken up by the Romans on the march from York to Ribchester on the River Ribble in Lancashire. In more recent times, the old Roman highway became the Ilkley-Skipton stagecoach road before being replaced by the present-day A65.

Turn right and stride out with fine views of Beamsley Beacon to your front left and with Addingham High Moor to your front right leading leftwards to Ilkley Moor.

Race down the hill passing, just before the A65, an ancient water tower and pump house on your right. When the road sweeps right, go straight ahead to the A65 (link-up with the outward leg).

Cross the busy road with great care and go straight ahead into Addingham and follow the street down into the village. On arriving in the main road, turn right (pavement) and walk down through the village, past the end of Silsden Road, to regain your vehicle.

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