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  • timbarber

Exploring Troller's Gill - a loop walk from Burnsall

Updated: Dec 2, 2020

With dry January starting and the need to rid myself of a stone in weight I had managed to put on over Christmas, my wife and I decided a bit of exercise was in order. Troller’s Gill was somewhere I had heard about and seen on maps but had never been too and so we decided to head off and explore.

I had found a route online which was a loop walk from Burnsall and estimated at about 7 miles long. I found the right OS map (OL2 Yorkshire Dales Southern and Western Areas and marked the route out as I always do in a green highlighter pen.

Troller’s Gill is not on an official footpath according to the OS map but I had been told that walkers were catered for with stiles at the top.

On a miserable, drizzly grey day we parked up in Burnsall village and started our walk. We turned right over the road bridge and then turned right following the sign to Appletreewick and Dalesway (the long distant walking trail from Ilkley to The Lake District).

We followed the path along the river for about 2 miles and came out at a road near the village of Howgill. We turned left here past Chapel House an old Wesleyan Chapel until we found a footpath not far after signed Skyreholme whereas instructed we kept to the higher ground as opposed to walking towards the stream. This brought us out at Howarth Farm, where there is also a caravan site closeby.

We followed the road round to Parceval Hall – a grade II listed Manor House parts of which date back to the 1500’s and now a retreat house of the Anglican diocese of Leeds (we will cover this location in a future blog article).

Just before Parceval Hall we turned off on another path and followed the south west bank of Skyreholme Beck. At the next junction we ignored the right fork which looked the more obvious path and followed the right fork which took us to the entrance to Troller’s Gill.

Yorkshire folklore has it that Troller’s Gill is home to a huge black dog called Bargest (who can turn people to stone with just one look) as well as many other evil creatures such as Trolls. Bargest was one of the influences for Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes novel The Hound of the Baskervilles. I am pleased to report that the only black dog we did see was our faithful black Labrador, Bronte!

Troller’s Gill is an interesting landmark – a half mile long limestone gorge. Skyreholme Beck does run through the gorge (and would have been responsible for eroding it in the first place) but with the limestone which makes up the landscape being permeable, the beck goes below ground at the top or Troller’s Gill and only appears again from underground at the bottom. This is unless there has been particularly heavy rainfall causing the beck to flow over ground – and there is evidence of this happening regularly by the moss and slippiness of the rocks.

We slowly scrambled up Trollers Gill before meeting a ladder style at the top. We followed the valley to a small wooden bridge and another stile and followed the track until we met the road.

After a brief stop for a flask of piping hot tea and some Yorkshire brack, we took a short walk along the road before taking the 2nd turning signed to Hartington. This was a wild, exposed stretch of the walk with the wind and rain blowing in our faces the whole way as we yomped over the moorland tops.

At the farm building we took a walled track which at least gave us some protection from the wind before joining back up with the riverside Dalesway footpath back into Grassington.


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