Yorkshire Dales Walks
Simon's Seat & Trollers Gill
Date: 9th July 2005
Distance: 8.3 miles
Ascent: 1863 feet
Time: 3 hours 45 mins
With: On my own
Start Grid Ref: SE054601
A fascinating walk contrasting the gritstone summit of Simon's Seat and the magnificent limestone scenery of Trollers Gill.
Route Summary: Appletreewick - Dales Way - Howgill - Simon's Seat - High Skyreholme - Skyreholme Beck - Trollers Gill - Appletreewick Pasture - Appletreewick
1. Simon's Seat as seen from the River Wharfe
2. The owl I disturbed by the Wharfe
3. The gritstone strewn slopes of Barden Fell
4. Looking across Wharfedale to Thorpe Fell
5. The summit outcrop of Simon's Seat
6. Approaching the entrance to Trollers Gill
7. Trollers Gill
8. Trollers Gill
9. The cave of the legendary Barguest
Walk Detail: The weather was glorious as I started off from Appletreewick. The stretch of the Wharfe from Appletreewick to Howgill was delightful and included a totally unexpected encounter with some local wildlife. Just before entering some woods I had decided to scramble down to the river in search of a good picture. As I did so I saw a large shape glide past not six feet away. It took a little while to register it was an owl.
With growing excitement I saw that it had landed in the grass from where I had just come. I managed to get a grainy digital zoom picture of its head before it flew back into the trees and it is a real shame I didn’t get it in flight. I did try stalking it in the trees and succeeded in making it fly in the open again but it got back in the trees too quickly so reluctantly I decided to carry on my walk.
The approach to Simon's Seat from Howgill was certainly steeper than that from Bolton Abbey side and even though it was not yet 11am it was punishingly hot. As I got up to the plantation I also started getting pestered by insects. This began to happen incessantly all the way to Simon’s Seat and was a real irritation.
Once up above the tree line I was able to enjoy great views of Wharfedale. I was particularly pleased, apart from a brief cameo from a runner, to have the rocky summit all to myself. In fact if there was anyone watching they would probably have been amused by the sight of me running round taking photos including a number of myself using the timer.
After loitering up there quite some time I eventually started to head down towards Skyreholme. Somewhere just above Dalehead Farm I unwittingly lost the path and ended up following what must have been a dry streambed through some high ferns and foxgloves. In order to extricate myself I had to crawl under a barbed wire fence. Judging by the state of the fence I was certainly not the first to take such drastic action.
From Skyreholme I headed towards Trollers Gill with some anticipation and was pleasantly surprised to find the path leading to it was not muddy in the least unlike my last visit when this section was a bit of a quagmire. An even greater surprise awaited me at the foot of the gill when I found that Skyreholme Beck was completely dry. This made the walk up the gill a very different experience to my last visit when the beck was in flood.
Trollers Gill was just as impressive as I remembered it and this time I had a functioning camera to record the sights for posterity. I had packed our Mag Light as I had planned on exploring the Barguest’s Cave but by this time I was really struggling with the heat and I just couldn’t sum up the energy to go in.
The gill was acting like a heat trap and there wasn't any breeze and after climbing out of the gill it took me a while to get a proper breath of air to fill my lungs up. The last couple of miles were very difficult and I kept myself going with the thought of a drink when I got back to Appltreewick. My subsequent pint of lemonade in the Craven Arms was one of the most refreshing I have ever had.
For once it was just too hot and sunny for this to have been a really enjoyable experience. Nevertheless it was still a very good walk and I certainly won’t forget the thrill of seeing that owl.