Shedding some light on Beamsley Beacon
Most people head out from Ilkley up onto the Moors above White Wells or The Cow and Calf, but walking up on the Moors over the other side of the Wharfe valley up on Middleton Moor & Denton Moor has some equally great walks and stunning views.
One of my favourite walks is up to Beamsley Beacon, also known locally as Howber Hill.
This prominent landmark, not surprisingly gets its name from having been the position of a warning beacon for centuries. Its position on high ground is actually 1,282 ft above sea level must have helped with the visibility of the beacon.
The beacon itself is marked by a stone cairn, which archaeological evidence has shown that it was originally built to mark the burial site of a bronze-age chieftan, which would date it about 4,500 years old.
The first recorded mention of Beamsley Beacon dates back to 1667, when it was part of a signalling system using fires to warn of impending invasion.
Little of what we see now will date back to the bronze age and it is also known that in 1804 during the Napoleonic Wars that the beacon was refurbished and a guard hut was also constructed out of some of the original stones - its purpose as a shelter for the Beacon Keeper.
From the beacon there are stunning vistas down Lower Wharfedale, and you can spot Bolton Abbey in the distance and further views into the Yorkshire Dales. You can even see Pendle Hill in Lancashire on a clear day. When the heather is in bloom in August and September it adds a touch of colour and really is a magical site.
The memorable location featured in a JMW Turner painting of a shooting party. This was painted in 1815 during one of his many visits to visit Farnley Hall to visit his friend Walter Fawkes.
There is a trig point at the beacon next to the cairn but also a memorial to commemorate a sad event which happened on 5thNovember 1945. Back then a Lancaster Bomber was flying out of RAF Leeming on a training flight when it hit thick fog. It crashed into the ridge 50 metres from the beacon. Of the eight Canadian Airforce crewmen, four died and four survived and a memorial was unveiled in 2015 with the plaque listing the names of the lost men.
Beamsley Beacon is a short 400m walk from Old Pike, which is marked by a signpost and a small cairn with equally stunning views. I’d definitely recommend a walk up there and the one on the Happy Hiker website was the route I have walked many times with my wife and our dog. Its great to have so many great walks and history on my doorstep.