Yorkshire Dales Walks
Simon's Seat via Posforth Gill
Date: 7th November 2015
Distance: 8.0 miles
Ascent: 1620 feet
Time: 3 hours 30 mins
With: On my own
Start Grid Ref: SE077552
A straightforward there and back walk on to Simon's Seat via Posforth Gill, aka the Valley of Desolation.
Route Summary: Cavendish Pavilion - Posforth Gill - Great Agill Head - Simon's Seat - Great Agill Head - Posforth Gill - Cavendish Pavillion
Photos: Click on the photos below to enlarge.
Walk Detail: My original plan for the day was to drive up to Buckden in Wharfedale to visit some of the waterfalls above Cray Gill. However, with the rain lashing down and large accumulations of water on the Skipton - Rylstone road I decided against risking the roads higher up the valley. Turning the car round at Rylstone I decided to head home. I'd got as far as the roundabout on the A59 near Bolton Abbey when suddenly blue sky appeared overhead and so I made an immediate decision to do this walk.
The there and back walk on to Simon's Seat via Posforth Gill was actually one of my earliest walks in the Yorkshire Dales, way back in May 2004. Although I'd been back to Simon's Seat a couple of times since then I hadn't been back to Posforth Gill until this walk and I was particularly keen on revisiting the two waterfalls.
Considering that only a short time before it had been raining so hard I'd barely been able to see the road, the blue sky and sunshine that greeted me at the start of the walk seemed nothing short of miraculous. Crossing the wooden bridge I noted how swollen the Wharfe looked and I was briefly tempted to go and view the Strid. Instead I stuck to my intended route and climbed up through the woods to the Storiths - Appletreewick Road which I soon left on the permissive path passing Waterfall Cottage and into some pastures above Posforth Gill.
After crossing a couple of fields I took a small path slanting down to the gill below where I crossed over the angry looking stream. A short walk along the north bank brought me to the first of the waterfalls. With the beck in spate it was a truly awe inspiring sight with the water thundering down a drop of several metres. Even stood some distance away I struggled to keep the camera lens dry due to the amount of spray coming off the falls.
My attempt to carry on along the thin path to the next footbridge was foiled by a large section of the path having been submerged in the torrent. Therefore I had to retrace my steps to the footbridge and clamber up the bank to the main path. Ten minutes later, having now crossed the second footbridge, I made another detour to visit the second waterfall. Witnessing the stream in these conditions it became easy to imagine the storm surge in 1836 that caused so much damage that the gill was called 'The Valley of Desolation'.
In normal conditions the second waterfall isn't a problem to reach but due to the amount of water in the vicinity it wasn't easy to get a good view of. In the end I had to carefully make my way through some trees and holly to get a sideways view. Although not as high as the earlier fall this was one was equally impressive with the torrent of water coming down the fall creating a pool of froth and bubbles.
Five minutes after returning to the main path I left the woods and Posforth Gill behind to begin the climb over Barden Moor on to Simon's Seat. By this time the skies had largely clouded over again giving the next stage of the walk a rather sombre feel. It was also hard to escape wet feet, not just crossing the ford over Great Agill Beck but also the numerous streams crossing the path at Great Agill Head. Further up, not far from the summit, an entire section of path had turned into a running stream.
Upon arriving at the summit I took shelter from the wind and a passing rain shower behind a large rock where I belatedly ate my lunch. I soon became aware of two large doleful eyes watching me out of a large boulder opposite, I decided that this must be Simon himself.
A brief patch of sunshine and accompanying rainbow to the north briefly sent me scurrying for a better vantage point to take some photos but thereafter conditions continued to deteriorate. As low cloud drifted over the summit I decided to head back, retracing my earlier steps all the way back to the start.