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The Pike Hill Beacons are manmade sentinels, standing on the edge of a plateau on the lower flanks of a high fell named Lovely Seat. That fell and the adjoining Staggs Fell stand high above the town of Hawes and the Wensleydale valley. Naturally the route is upwards, but don’t be deterred.
The incline is gradual and the outlook magnificent. Physical effort will be amply rewarded. Hardraw Force plunges 100 feet and is said to be England’s highest single drop waterfall. Access to the waterfall is via the Green Dragon Inn, in Hardraw village. A charge is made and a visit adds almost a mile for those wishing to see the waterfall.
Sedbusk was a Norse settlement. The name means bush near the sheiling (hut or barn).
Follow the main street in Hawes towards Barclays and H S B C banks, leading in the direction of the Dales Countryside Museum.
Turn left at a road junction towards Hardraw. While crossing the road bridge note the museum and the former Hawes railway station to the right.
At the first opportunity leave the road on the left, to follow a paved path across a field. Cross a road bridge, pass a cricket ground then slip through a stile on the right – signposted Sedbusk. A clear path leads over a ‘cobbled’ bridge continuing across the fields towards a main road. Cross the road to another stile, then using the right hand path cross several fields and enter the hamlet of Sedbusk. Continue to Chapel Cottage and turn left passing a Primitive Methodist Chapel – 1875. Follow the narrow road beyond the houses to merge with a concreted farm track known as Shutt Lane. Signposted North Rakes Hill.
Follow the track uphill to the end, then turn through a gate marked with a Footpath sign, on the left Follow the obvious track running in a depression with superb views of Wensleydale already appearing – a foretaste of what’s to follow. Leave this track on the left at the first bend, to walk upwards adjacent with the wall, aiming towards a small copse. Pass around the top side of this and onwards to a gate, then walk half right to another gate.
This is Shutt Gate – a location title, not a discourteous Yorkshire command!
CAREFUL NAVIGATION IS NEEDED DURING THE NEXT STEPS
Still rising and leaving the enclosed fields behind veer ever so slightly left, then curve right with the limestone outcrops of High Clint on the left. There are several paths hereabouts, so don’t be alarmed to see a waymarker on your right. All paths eventually merge. After about ten minutes you should encounter a solitary, upright bridleway signpost. Continue along the broad track. Ten yards beyond the post the path splits; go LEFT along the broadest track. When the summit cairn appears on the left, it’s worth making a detour to fully appreciate the vista. This being High Clint, the highest point of the outing. From the summit cairn return to the main track and resume the previous course, eventually merging with the Buttertubs Pass road. Along the way seek a lone marker post, descend into a damp area, then maintain the previous line past some small limestone outcrops on the right and rise up a brief incline. The Pike Hill Beacons stand beyond the precipice far below and are far more conspicuous from the road. The path (30m away from the precipice) hereabouts is indistinct but there is a succession of marker posts to aid navigation. The route crosses Shivery Gill, a roaring stream in winter, often dry in summer. At the next marker post swing left and drop down to the road. Turn left along the road.
Note the tall wooden poles at the roadside. These are snowpoles. A reminder of the times when deep Snowfalls frequently covered this exposed section of road. The poles were guides for the snowplough crews who battled to keep the road open.
At the bottom of the hill turn right at the cottages to enter a narrow lane. After 200 yards leave the lane on the left, using either the steps or a stile and enter a wild garlic wonderland known as Shaw Gill Wood.
A flagstone path leads through the brief section of woodland, presenting a joyous scene as Shaw Gill Beck tumbles as a succession of small waterfalls towards its 100 foot drop at Hardraw Force.
Shaw Gill Woods was landscaped and planted in the C19th by the Earl of Wharncliffe (a south Yorkshire coal baron) who then owned nearby Simonstone Hall. Unfortunately, Hardraw Force is out of bounds at this point.
Ignore the bridges to depart from the woods after passing through a metal gate. At the road turn right, walking towards Simonstone. Before reaching that hamlet turn right, cross a ladder stile or cattle grid, then descend toward West House farm. Seek a stile to the right of the house, then follow the paved footpath downhill into Hardraw. Access to Hardraw Force is through the public house. Small charge.
Whether or not you visit the waterfall, the walk continues by entering the lane near the telephone box – signpost – Brunt Acres Road. Simply use a succession of ‘gap’ stiles to reach that destination, then swing right to return to Hawes, retracing earlier footsteps.
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