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Yorkshire Dales Walks

Great Pinseat & Old Gang Smelt Mill

Date: 4th July 2015
Distance: 6.0 miles
Ascent: 950 feet
Time: 2 hours 50 mins
With: Lisa
Start Grid Ref: SD989998

Walk Summary:
A super walk from Surrender Bridge over Great Pinseat via the fascinating mining remains of the Old Gang Smelt Mill.

Route Summary: Surrender Bridge - Old Gang Smelt Mill - Hard Level Gill - Flincher Gill - Forefield Rake - Great Pinseat - Surrender Ground - Barras End - Surrender Bridge.

Photos: Click on the photos below to enlarge.

The remains of the Surrender Smelt Mill from the small parking area
Great Pinseat and Surrender Bridge
Old Gang Beck, also known as Mill Gill
The track running above Old Gang Beck
Approaching the remains of the Old Gang Smelt Mill
Remains of the Old Gang Smelt Mill
The row of stone pillars above the smelt mill
The view back down to the Old Gang Smelt Mill from the grassy path leading to the stone pillars
Checking out the remains of an old flue
Lisa on one of the small bridges crossing Old Gang Beck
A pied wagtail in Hard Level Gill
The views began to open out as we climbed up gradually alongside Flincher Gill
The scruffy path leading up Forefield Rake
Approaching the large cairn on Great Pinseat
A boundary stone on the wall running along the summit
The trig point on Great Pinseat looking toward Water Crag, in the shade, and the distant North Pennine moors
The rusting and rather random remains of an old vehicle alongside the track
Lisa on the track as it crosses Surrender Ground
Looking back along the track towards the top of Great Pinseat
Calver Hill and moors above Swaledale and Arkengarthdale
Another view of Calver Hill with Fremington Edge beyond
A zoom shot toward Arkengarthdale where the houses of Langthwaite can just be seen
The road leading back to Surrender Bridge
The remains of the Surrender Smelt Mill
Surrender Bridge

Walk Detail: Swaledale is one of the most beautiful of all Yorkshire's Dales but for some reason it is probably the one I've visited the least. Prior to this walk it had been almost two years since I had visited Swaledale so it had been on my mind to head up that way again soon. As it happened this weekend was a rare opportunity to go for a walk, just my wife and myself. As Lisa had been struggling with a sore hip I needed to think of somewhere with fairly gentle gradients, good tracks but also fine views. After a great deal of thought I picked this walk, revisiting part of a much longer walk I'd first done almost ten years ago.

Our walk started from a small parking area above Surrender Bridge on the road from Low Row to Langthwaite. We were immediately treated to some wonderful views of the remains of the Surrender Smelt Mill in one direction and of Surrender Bridge backed by Reeth High Moor in the other direction. Descending to Surrender Bridge we then took the bridleway heading upstream above Old Gang Beck.

After less than a mile of easy walking we arrived at the site of the Old Gang Smelt Mill. One of the most substantial remains of the Swaledale's lead mining heritage, the Old Gang complex is quite fascinating and for students of industrial archaeology a must. After pottering about a bit in the main complex I also took a detour a bit further along the path up to a series of stone columns, apparently the remains of an old peat store, but which today look like a row of giant stone trig columns. A bit further along I then took a careful look inside one of the mining levels.

Once past the mining remains the solid track continued first up Hard Level Gill, where we stopped alongside the beck for some lunch, and then Flincher Gill. Here the views began to open out a bit over the surrounding moorland. Finally we turned east for an easy ascent up Forefield Rake, the path climbing up an area scoured by mining activity. At the top of Forefield Rake we came to a large cairn built on top of a spoil heap in an area which looked almost desert like.

The cairn however was not the summit of Great Pinseat so, to reach this, we left the track behind for a short pathless detour north to reach the nearby wall. Passing a boundary stone we walked along the south side of the wall until we were just opposite the trig point. Somehow Matt and I had climbed this wall on my first visit ten years before. This time it did not seem so important to physically touch the trig point so I contented myself with a few pictures before retracing our steps back to the track.

The return was a simple and enjoyable walk south-east on a good track across Surrender Ground which eventually led us back to the road between Surrender Bridge and Fore Gill Gate. With wide open and increasingly good views, especially of Calver Hill and Fremington Edge beyond, this was a glorious couple of miles of walking. Once back on the road it was a simple case of following it back to Surrender Bridge. Here I made a final detour to take some photos of the Surrender Mill.

This was a splendid walk and one that was very rewarding for the relative lack of effort that it took. Highly recommended!

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