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Yarnbury to Mossdale Circular Walk

Walk Summary
Distance:About 10 miles (15k)
Difficulty:Difficult in good weather, can be almost impassable after wet periods
Start:Yarnbury (just above Grassington) (SE 015 655)
Time:Five or six hours

This is a real tough walk mostly over open moorland and unless you're very experienced is for good weather only. Open moors can be disorienting so a compass is essential, particularly as the tracks on the moors do not correspond with the tracks marked on the map. You have been warned!  Allow about five hours.

The walk starts at Yarnbury. From Grassington go up the main street until the metalled road becomes a track and that's Yarnbury. Park up and make sure not to miss seeing the lovely drainage adit by the roadside.

Take the track that goes to the right across the moors through the old mine workings. It's all labelled up as a trail nowadays, so there's no need to hurry. As you breast the ridge, you'll see the chimney in the distance, that's our next port of call.

Make your way to the chimney exploring the ruins as you go. The walk then starts to change in character, and we start to enter open moorland. Go to the reservoir a few yards behind and to the left of the chimney, then across to the track you can see. There are three main tracks at this point. Be sure to take the middle one which runs to the top of Blea Beck. This is good easy walking until the track eventually runs out. Once it does, follow the watercourse upstream in a North Westerly direction aiming for Priest's Tarn. There are a lot of watercourses here and it's easy to get the wrong one, so use a compass bearing to get the right direction.

Mossadale memorial cairn - inscription reads 'Mossdale memorial cairn - over the place in the cave where the bodies were found' This is tough walking, and in bad weather it's extremely boggy so be careful. As you reach the top of the hill you'll see a cairn. It's the only cairn for miles around so you can't miss it. Pause at the cairn, and if you look carefully you'll see a small plaque at the bottom. Pause a while and say a quiet prayer, for this is the memorial cairn to the Mossdale Caverns tragedy , Britain's worst caving tragedy where six young cavers from Leeds University lost their lives in 1967.  

In front of you is a wire fence running across the moor in a North East direction. Turn right and follow it,  heading north east until you hit another fence running at right angles to it. (grid 034701) Turn left along the new fence heading NNW towards Sandy Gate (030712). Keep your eyes open here, as I saw deer while walking up here, and that's the first time I've ever seen one on a Dales moor top. The walking here is hard going, but eventually you come to a stile crossing the fence. This is Sandy Gate, and from here on it's easy walking all the way home.

Follow the footpath all the way down into Mossdale, and you're then on a fine broad track down the dale. On your left pass Mossdale Scar and the entrance to the cavern, but if you go to visit, tread with care because just for once the warning signs about unmarked shafts are for real!

Continuing down the dale, as it widens there's an unmetalled road going off to the left. Like most things on this walk it's not marked on the map but don't worry about it. Take the track as it climbs steeply up the valley side, and then follow it all the way to come back out next to the chimney on Grassington moor. Job done, leaving time for a well deserved pint of Black Sheep at the Black Horse in Grassington. They do excellent really big food too, or for a cheaper option the chippy next door is excellent.

Pictures of the Walk

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Comments (7)
never knew that was there - anyone know who built it?
posted by Caver John 30/05/2007 20:56:16
John, did you know the cavers who died?

posted by Joyce 28/09/2007 00:56:48
no - I knew nothing about the accident until I stumbled across the memorial while exploring the access land.
posted by John 02/12/2007 21:03:24
mossdale caverns should be explored cos people need adventure,as long as they know how dangerous it is.

posted by alanking 17/03/2008 10:37:11
I have been one of those cavers who has been down this system since the tradegy and although I did not add anything to the length of the cave I know that all cavers , including our dearly departed, would not want to see their lives given in vain and the cave sealed for ever. It may be highly dangerous to explore this system but explore this system we must and when its secrets are found (which is only a matter of time) their sacrifice will have had some purpose.
posted by Speleoone 18/03/2008 00:58:16
Be warned! Not all the remains of the cavers were recovered to the Sanctuary cave.
posted by Black Beastie 06/08/2009 15:34:03
Why do you call yourself Black Beastie?
posted by Joyce 25/06/2010 00:11:29
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