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History in Gunnerside Gill

D019
Home > Walks in the Dales > Down dales, over moors > History in Gunnerside Gill
  • An industrial history lesson
  • Regenerated woodland
  • Gunnerside is a fine village

lead-mines-gunnerside-gill

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I was looking forward to this walk as I was often told that you do not truly understand the Dales and particularly Swaledale until you have gone up Gunnerside Gill. It is unique with great scars of the valley side ripped out and baring its soul, ugly in so many ways but fascinating none the less. The valley puts into perspective how different life was in years gone past when industry rather than tourism or sheep farming was dominant. Hundreds of workers lived in Swaledale and trekked up Gunnerside Gill to work in the lead mines; pulling out the lead ore which was then crushed in the buildings within the valley before being transported to the local factories for smelting. Peat was cut for burning in the kilns, reservoirs built and burst in order to blast areas of hillside to reveal the naked ore, buildings for storage and supervisors and mines, originally just dug out and from the late 19th century hewed by compressed air drills. All of these are laid out like a history lesson, I was visualising the workers as I walked the valley. Additionally the walk took me through a lovely area of regenerated woodland just out of Gunnerside village which gives no clue of what is yet to come. I took an adventurous and for 1/2 a mile trackless return over the moors to the east but there is such a myriad of tracks in the valley that a return through the industrial workings is just as enjoyable.

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Recommend: Follow the valley all the way to the two broken dams whichever route you return by.

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OS Map: O/S 1.25,000. OL30 Yorkshire Dales North & Central Buy Map
Start Point: SD 951982. There is some parking in Gunnerside but this may be challenging on a busy day.
Height to Climb: 364 ms (1,194 feet)
Terrain: Plenty of paths within the valley but my walk has a pathless section over the high, grouse shooting moor. Still worth doing in clear weather for the views on the descent.
Eating & Drinking: Gunnerside has a small, but pleasant pub, the Kings Head and a small tea shop. A very pretty village.
Similar Walks Nearby: Mining on Great Pinseat
Kisdon Fell Circular from Thwaite
Riverside at Reeth
Places to Stay: Rowleth End GH, Upper Swaledale
Swaledale Cottages, nr Reeth
Thwaitedale Cottages, Upper Swaledale