Day 46: Keld – Angram – Thwaite – Hawes – Burtersett – Countersett – Stalling Busk – Cragdale

16.9 miles – Daisy-blue sky, pale ale sunshine

The old, red telephone boxes are still extant and (presumably) operative throughout the Yorkshire Dales – a reminder of my childhood.

Having fussed so much about moorland yesterday, it was high time I followed my conviction. So instead of following the Pennine way I bounced my way along lanes to Hawes, and so was treated to gorgeous stone houses and barns in Keld and Thwaite; it also meant I passed Lover Gill and Sod Hole Gill. One toys with possible reasons that the people of these isolated, rural communities bestowed such names upon their streams. I guess I shall never know.

Cow houses were used to over-winter cows from November until springtime still until 50 years ago. The requirement that cattle be not tied up means that now none, like these near Keld, is used for its original purpose. Most are decaying into the fields from which their stones came.
Swaledale (from Keld) in morning sunlight.

I had seen butter Tubs on my map. I had no idea what to expect, but it wasn’t this…

The Butter Tubs probably got its name from the farmers who took their butter from Keld and Thwaite to the market at Hawes and cooled their produce in these deep shafts.

The hole is vertical and about 20 feet deep, but some of them are as much as 80 feet. There is a huge network of these holes and the aquifers which connect them; they are caused by slightly acidic rainwater slowly dissolving the limestone over thousands of years (this also makes the water ‘hard’ and suitable for brewing IPA).

Swaledale. Thwaite village is just out of sight to the right.

All day I took in the sights, sounds, and smells of hay making, the farmers all around taking advantage of the exceptional weather: the Dales were alive with industry.

I spoke to a farmer’s wife, who told me most of these barns or cow houses are now unused and becoming derelict; they ceased to be used for their original purpose, keeping cows warm over winter, 50 years ago. Her daughter hopes to take over Gale Barn and convert it to a house.

Gale’s Barn, east of Burtersett.
In the field next to the barn William, the farmer, turns the hay.

Comparing these – there are hundreds dotted about the Dales – to our Sussex flint barns, there must be a gold mine waiting for the canny developer to convert them into homes and holiday cottages.

Looking back to Raydale from Stalling Busk

Comments (2):

  1. Julia Bevan

    12 July 2022 at 14:06

    Wouldn’t it be great if they were converted into homes for locals, rather than holiday homes? I hope the farmer’s daughter gets her wish.

    • Toby

      20 July 2022 at 05:49

      Agreed! Or into microbreweries.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *