and walking on Mallerstang Common
Walks, Notes and
Scenes from Yorkshire Dales
National Park, North Yorkshire, the North Pennines and parts of East Cumbria
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There is some great 'wild'
walking on Mallerstang Common. Its quite hard going at times, especially
right below several limestone scars and the Nab of Wild Boar Fell, but a
lovely return to Aisgill.
The walk does not involve well-defined footpaths.
We stayed at the very good
Tranna Hill B&B in Newbiggin-on-Lune
Looking down the B6259 towards Aisgill and Mallerstang Dale from near
Cotegill Bridge over the
Settle-Carlisle railway line.
There is car parking available in two place near Cotegill Bridge on the
You walk north down the road to Aisgill Farm. On the left you can find a
way up onto open moorland from under Aisgill railway viaduct.
Looking east across the Dale from Mallerstang Common
Looking to the southern end of Mallerstang Dale
Looking up to the Nab from Mallerstang Common after
walking beneath Low White Scar, High White Scar, Yodecomb Scar and
Limestone pavement on Mallerstang Common.
An old limestone wall enclosure for sheep on Mallerstang Common.
Limestone walling on Mallerstang Common.
Molly takes a break !
Weathered limestone walling - better than most art installations !
A broad view of Mallerstang Dale from Mallerstang Common.
The cairn where we headed back along the wall running north to south on
the edge of Mallerstang Common.
on Wild Boar Fell
The cairns on High White Scar.
The curve of the
as it winds its way down into Aisgill.
You walk back down to Aisgill viaduct and back onto the road up to
Cotegill Bridge - distant top-right.
"Phil Brown's docspics take on walking on Mallerstang Common"
Notes from Wikipedia
NOTES ON AISGILL
Aisgill is the southernmost of the hamlets that comprise
the parish of Mallerstang in the English county of Cumbria. It is on the
B6259 road, at the head of Mallerstang dale, just before the boundary
between Cumbria and North Yorkshire.
The highest waterfall on the River Eden, Hellgill Force, with a drop of
about 9.75 metres (according to recent measurements) is just to the
north, at grid reference SD779966. The river itself rises (at first as
Red Gill beck, later becoming Hell Gill beck) below Hugh Seat in the
peat bogs above here. It finally becomes the river Eden after merging
with the Ais Gill beck, which flows down from Wild Boar Fell.
Aisgill is at both a county and a natural geographical boundary. It is
at the watershed (sometimes called "the watershed of England") from
which the Eden flows north towards the Irish Sea via the Solway Firth,
while the River Ure flows south towards Wensleydale, and eventually into
the North Sea.
Swarth Fell frames the western side of the head of Mallerstang dale, and
from Aisgill there is a view along the steep, narrow valley, with
Mallerstang Edge and High Seat framing the eastern side. But the view at
Aisgill is dominated by the great table-top bulk of Wild Boar Fell, to
The Settle-Carlisle Railway reaches its highest point at "Aisgill
Summit" 356 m (1,168 ft); and there is a small viaduct where the line
crosses Ais Gill beck. There have been three notable rail accidents
nearby: the Hawes Junction rail crash in 1910, one in 1913 and most
recently in 1995.
NOTES ON MALLERSTANG
Mallerstang is a civil parish in the extreme east of Cumbria, and,
geographically, a dale at the head of the upper Eden Valley. Originally
part of Westmorland, it lies about 6 miles (9.7 km) south of the nearest
town, Kirkby Stephen. Its eastern edge, at Aisgill, borders on North
Yorkshire; and since August 2016 it has been within the Yorkshire Dales
At the 2011 census data for Wharton was included with Mallerstang,
giving a total population of 173.
This narrow valley at the head of the River Eden is bounded by Wild Boar
Fell and Swarth Fell to the west and Mallerstang Edge to the east.
The highest point of Mallerstang Edge is the summit of High Seat; at 709
metres (2,326 ft) this is a metre or so higher than the more prominent
Wild Boar Fell. The other main high points on the eastern side of the
dale are the curiously named Gregory Chapel, south of High Seat, and
Hugh Seat to the south-east.
The river Eden rises as Red Gill Beck in Black Moss, the peat bogs below
Hugh Seat. A little further downstream it becomes Hellgill Beck; and it
traditionally takes the name 'Eden' below the waterfall Hell Gill Force,
after it has been joined by Aisgill Beck, which flows down from Wild
Boar Fell. The Ordnance Survey places the name change further upstream,
beyond the diffluence of the Eden Sike which flows into Eden Sike Cave,
one of a number of caves in the area.
Mallerstang, like many other Pennine dales, reflects the pattern set a
thousand years ago by its Norse settlers (whose language is still
evident in the names of many of its geographical features). Its small
community is scattered along 6 miles (10 km) of the dale in a series of
isolated houses and small hamlets, with no village. The largest of the
hamlets, Outhgill, provides a central point for the community—but after
the closure of the village hall (the Travers Institute) in the 1960s,
and the final closure of the post office in the 1990s, only the parish
church remains. St Mary's still has a small but loyal and enthusiastic
congregation, and services are held weekly.
Some notable historical people and events
The dale is closely associated with Lady Anne Clifford, and the ancient
road to the east of the river is known as "Lady Anne's Highway" in
memory of the indomitable Countess of Pembroke, who often travelled
along this track while moving between her many castles. It is, however,
much older than this and was used by the Romans as a route between
Wensleydale and their forts along what is now the A66. A local shepherd
found a hoard of Roman coins on Mallerstang Edge near the Highway in
1927. (The "Mallerstang hoard" is now in the Tully House Museum in
Carlisle.) But the Romans were using a track that had existed at least
since the Bronze Age, and there is evidence for even earlier use in
recent finds of flint tools nearby.
St Mary's Church, Outhgill
St Mary's Church in Outhgill was founded in the early 14th century by
another powerful patroness, Lady Idonea de Veteripont – but, having
fallen into disrepair, was restored by Lady Anne in 1663 (as a plaque
over the door records).
Pendragon Castle, was also restored (in fact more or less rebuilt) by
Lady Anne in 1660. According to legend it is supposed to have been built
by Uther Pendragon, father of King Arthur. Whether there is any
substance to these old legends will probably never be settled, and there
is no evidence from the limited archaeological investigations for any
building here before the Norman castle built in the reign of King
William Rufus. The castle was one of Lady Anne Clifford's favourite
places. But her heir, the Earl of Thanet, abandoned it; and over the
next three centuries it gradually deteriorated.
One of the other notable Lords of the Manor was Sir Hugh de Morville,
Lord of Westmorland. He was one of the four knights who murdered St
Thomas Beckett in Canterbury cathedral, and legend says that he took
refuge here afterwards before being banished to France. (Hugh Seat is
named after him, and Wild Boar Fell, as seen from beyond the castle to
the north, is said to have haunted him because in certain lights its
profile strongly suggests a face and mitre: the recumbent St Thomas.)
On 24 February 1537 ten men from Mallerstang were hanged in the dale for
taking part in the Pilgrimage of Grace. The local protesters had
gathered at Lammerside Castle, just north of Mallerstang, and joined the
6000 men who marched through Westmorland towards Carlisle. This uprising
against King Henry VIII was put down by a military force commanded by
Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk, aided by Sir Thomas Wharton, 1st
Baron Wharton (whose seat, Wharton Hall, lies just to the north of the
parish). From the many prisoners taken, 74 were picked out to be
executed in their own villages.
The tradition of dissent was still alive in the 17th century when ten or
more families in the dale became Quakers – at a time when all
non-conformists suffered considerable persecution. The grandson of one
of these Quaker families, George Birkbeck, set up the "Mechanics
Institute" in London, which later became Birkbeck College of the
University of London. The Quakers' strong influence in the area
continued until the Wesleyans largely replaced it in the 19th century.
Two brothers from Clapham, Yorkshire, moved to the area in the late 18th
century. Richard Faraday became a notable businessman in Kirkby Stephen,
where a road is named after him. His younger brother, James, set up as a
blacksmith in Outhgill (in the house now called Faraday Cottage). As he
moved to London a year before their third child was born, the area
narrowly missed being able to claim the great scientist Michael Faraday
as a Mallerstang man.
Aisgill Viaduct, Mallerstang. on the Settle–Carlisle line
The most conspicuous structure in the dale is the Settle–Carlisle
Railway, built between 1869 and 1876, and one of the last great
engineering works in Britain to be built almost entirely by muscle
power. It was constructed at great cost not only of money but also of
human life. Twenty-five of those who died during the construction of
this section of the line (both builders and members of their families)
are buried in unmarked graves in the churchyard of St. Mary's. A
memorial to them was erected there in 1997.
The people of the Dale
From the time of its Norse settlers until the mid-20th century, farming
was the main occupation in the dale. There are also the inconspicuous
remains of some small-scale coal and lead mining, but this was never
very profitable and did not survive beyond the 19th century.
Historically the population varied between about 250 and 350.
During the 20th century, as the small farms merged, and as machinery
reduced the need for manpower, the population gradually declined. By
mid-century it reached a low point of about 50; but since the late 1970s
the remaining farming families have been joined by many "off-comers",
attracted by the scenery to make their homes here, and the population
doubled again from its lowest point. Even though it is remote from
most 21st-century amenities, Mallerstang has survived as a community,
with many of its ancient traditions intact.
Mallerstang Parish Meeting
The population, with 101 on the electoral register (March 2011), is too
small to entitle Mallerstang to have a Parish Council, and it has no
representation by elected councillors in the nearest town, Kirkby
Stephen. Constitutionally, the civil parish has the status of a parish
meeting, the lowest tier of Local Government in England. (A civil parish
is quite separate from the Church of England's parochial organisation.)
Three Officers are elected annually by those on the electoral register:
the Parish Chair, a vice-Chair, and the Parish Clerk (who serves as both
secretary and treasurer). Parish Meetings are held at least three times
a year: in March, June and November (with a provision for extra
meetings, if called for). The meetings are open to all residents, and
those who are on the electoral register for Mallerstang may speak and
vote on all matters.
The budget for the coming year and a 'parish precept' (an amount added
to the Council Tax specifically for Mallerstang) are agreed at the
November meeting. Parish officers are elected at the Annual Parish
Meeting, held on the Thursday nearest to 25 March. (By tradition, past
residents, especially those who have died during the year, are
commemorated at this meeting.) At the June meeting the annual parish
accounts are presented; this meeting also includes an annual report on
the historic Mallerstang Charities. Among its other activities, the
Parish Meeting has a Village Green Committee, and a Red Squirrel
Committee, a group who are doing their best to conserve and protect the
dale's small but thriving population of native red squirrels.
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