Winter Walks: Arkengarthdale and Booze
Swaledale may be wilder than Wensleydale, but it is also far better known than its even more remote offshoot, Arkengarthdale
Said to be named after Arkil, an 11th century Viking chieftain, Arkle Beck runs through the valley to join the Swale at Reeth. In 1656 the dale was bought by Dr John Bathurst, physician to Oliver Cromwell, and the Bathurst family did much to develop lead mining here. Both Swaledale and Arkengarthdale produced lead for the mining industry throughout the 17th and 18th centuries and they both carry the scars of abandoned spoil heaps and old shafts which add character to, rather than disfigure, the landscape.
This walk starts at one of Living North’s favourite pubs, The Charles Bathurst Inn, but more of that later. It’s just under eight miles and it does take you up and down dale, through numerous gates and over a beck or two.
Past the pub, (don’t worry, the walk is circular and it will still be there on your return!), go right, over a stile and head downhill, over a bridge and follow the track round Scar Ho to Scar House, an imposing residence and now a shooting lodge which belongs to the Duke of Norfolk, but once owned by Sir Thomas Sopwith, renowned for the Sopwith Camel plane. His wife, who disapproved of the larger house Eskeleth Hall which sat higher up than Scar House, had the hall pulled down. Once here, head uphill to the gate onto a small lane. By the next farmhouse, go through the two gates and then follow the wall to the right and then to the left, carry on to the road ahead and then you need to turn right. Turn right again at the signpost and carry on for a mile along the track until you get to a junction, where you need to bear left and follow the track as it heads into a narrow valley pockmarked by spoil tips from the Windegg Mine and Scarr, and where, in some places, the different layers forming the Yoredale series of rocks can clearly be seen.
Crossing Low Moor, stay right and head downhill where you’ll cross a narrow beck. You will see the remains of the Slei Gill lead mines and there are tunnel entrances here too. Once you are through the gate, keep to the wall and take the path heading upwards to your right. You are heading towards Booze, which actually means ‘the house on the curved hill’. A tiny hamlet, established by Methodist mine workers (seemingly with a sense of humour) turn left as you enter, opposite the first cottage, through the gates and follow the signpost across Booze Common downhill to the junction where you turn right.
Two more gates and you are into woodland. Simply follow the path downhill, crossing the footbridge, and then up again, crossing the graveyard by the two gated stiles. At the main road, turn right until you see the sign to Bouldershaw House, until you come across another signpost where you turn right across moorland, following an ancient track. Head left and downhill to Mill Intake where you cross a small steam, then go through a gate and over a stile by the village school where you can turn left and back towards the pub.
Your start and finish point is the whitewashed 18th century CB Inn. Nestled in some of the most spectacular scenery, this friendly pub is popular with locals and visitors alike. Open fires, fabulous food and the warmest of welcomes make any walk worthwhile. Serving Yorkshire food with a modern twist, everything is sourced as locally as possible and, from the baguettes at lunchtime to the daily specials on the blackboard menu anytime, this is a perfect place to relax after your walk. For anyone wanting to explore more, the CB Inn also has lovely bedrooms.
For those who need to whet their whistle on the way, a small detour to Langthwaite after the hamlet of Booze, will take you to the Red Lion pub, tucked away on the village square beside the bridge. Made famous by being featured in the opening shots for the iconic series, All Creatures Great and Small, here you’ll find good beer, wine and hot drinks and a mini-menu of pasties, pies and sandwiches to keep you going.