Sunday, 5 October 2014

Surrender Bridge, The Old Gang Smelting Mills, and a Flue.

For various reasons I haven’t updated the blog recently.  I do have all sorts to update the blog with but I'm very behind, so I'll catch up later perhaps.  Today I am going to post my latest walk, if only because I enjoyed it so much that I can’t wait to shout about it.

I’ve been recovering from a twisted ankle – (which I twisted twice!).  I chose this easy route, on what is mostly a flat track, without the hazards of rough ground.  The drive to Surrender bridge is only 30 mins max from home, and the weather forecast was good, so it seemed the perfect walk. 

The thing is, after getting dressed this morning,  I wondered if I really wanted to leave my home comforts to tackle a six mile trek.  After all, walks can be hard work and there is always plenty of stuff I could be doing around the house.  As I was getting ready, I was thinking, “Can I really be bothered?”  But I got meself sorted all the same, and was soon in the car heading for Healaugh and Surrender Bridge. 

And boy was I glad that I gave meself that little push.  Booted up and taking my first steps towards the bridge, the view, the sun, the sounds and the air suddenly reminded me why I like being out in the Dales so much.  From that point I knew I was gonna have a fantastic walk. 

And it was.  Here are the pictures. 
The view as I stepped from the car.  That's Old Gang Beck (or Mill Gill), below, Surrender Bridge ahead with the bulk of Reeth High Moor behind.  And it's a wonderful day. 
From Surrender Bridge, looking down stream to the old Smelting Mill
Following the track.  The colours of the bracken and heather are wonderful.  
It wasn't long before I reached the ruins of the Old Gang Smelting Mills
Old carts and rusting machinery
Not sure what this piece of machinery is
But I don't think most people would imagine one this size
I think this is what's left of a massive chimney, with the flue leading off out of the door sized space and up the hill. The flue has always interested me.  I'll come back to this later. 
After spending a good 20 or 30 mins around the old mills, I carried on.  Today the grouse were very vocal and quite prolific - they where everywhere!  Sometimes they startled me suddenly shooting out from the heather, but mostly they kept me company, appearing in flocks or on their own, walking or flying, and constantly telling me to "go back go back go back".........  Not on your Nelly! I was having a wonderful time.

A few hundred meters from the smelting mills are the shooting huts, and a pretty disused bridge. 

A disused bridge and one of the shooting huts.  Note the tunnel to the right
One site I read suggests this is a tunnel into the lead mines.  I'm thinking it may be for ventilation, or drainage, as it seems a little small for people to use.  Maybe it had a deeper floor 100 years ago?
The little disused bridge looks lovely
Onwards and ever so slightly upwards, the track continues North West following Gang Beck.
Looking back is as good as looking forward. You can see the pretty little bridge and  two shooting huts. Up on the hill on the left is a row of pillars, with a couple of end walls.  This is actually an old peat store.  Peat would have been used to fuel the fires in the smelting mills. 
I continued along the track, first stopping at Hard Level Force, which is normally a waterfall.  I've visited before, where I've seen sheep get confuddled as to how to cross and fish in the plunge pool at the bottom.  Today it was a water trickle, which disappeared into the ground below.
Old Gang Beck changes to Hard Level Gill, which was for the most part dry.  I passed Level House Bridge and walked through the slag heaps of the lead mines.  Definitely not the best part of the walk.
Hard Level Gill becomes Flincher Gill and the track continues gently up.  Just as it turned east I came across more entrances to the lead mines below ground.

There are two entrances. The tunnel on the right swiftly reduces in size and isn't really big enough for a person.  The barred tunnel on the left is much larger. 
Inside the left tunnel, you can see the rail tracks for the carts that were used.  Stuff like this always makes me want to know more. 
After a short break at the tunnel entrances, I set off again up through the surface stripped area of Forefield Rake.  
Forefield Rake.  The surface of the land raked, smashed and pulverised to extract the lead. 
I'm about half way on my walk now.  The track turns and gently, uneventfully descends South East. Ahead the view is taken up by Reeth Low Moor and the steep slopes up to Fremington Edge.
You'll remember that I said earlier that I had an interest in that flue from the Old Gang Smelting Mill?  Well, if you look on a map, you'll see that the flue extends nearly half a mile from the mill upwards to the top of Reeth High Moor.  I wanted to see the top, and the easiest way to get to it was from this side of the hill.  Once I'd reached the right point, I turned off the track, and headed through the heather to the top of the flue.  Luckily I had Gizmo with me, my GPS kept me on track through the uneven ground and deep heather.  It was worth the effort though. 

There isn't any way I could get a photograph to show the whole thing, but this picture gives an idea.  The top of the flue is behind me, and you can see the flue tracking all the way down the hill to the smelting mills at the bottom of the hill and out of sight. 
Not only was I pleased with meself for finding the top of the flue and satisfying me curiousity - I was especially delighted with my other find on the top of the moor. 
A little bit of a dramatic cliff edge near the flue.  Not that big a drop, but wonderful all the same. 
Massive limestone pavement slaps - really impressive
And rocks carved by the wind and rain.
And a veiw of Low Reeth Moor and Fremington Edge.  Wonderful. 
I loved it up there on moor, but it was time to find my way down.  Bearing in mind that my foot and ankle had still not properly recovered,  I couldn't afford the slightest twist or sprain, The deep heather hid rocks and drops. and as per my way up, I was a very careful about where I put my feet. 

But I was back on the track and making my way along the last mile or so of the route soon enough.  The walk ended far to quickly to be honest, but then, there is always another day. 

Here's a map of the route, you can see my little excursion to the top of the flue. 

A little over 6 miles. 


  1. That's a great walk and one of my favourite areas. It's so interesting. There is something fascinating to see around almost every turn in the path. I've never seen those slabs on the top of the moor though. That's just the excuse I need for a return visit in the near future.
    Hope the ankle's feeling better, by the way.

  2. Fantastic write-up and pictures. Will try and do this walk next time I'm up that way.

    1. Than you Hughie. I love the area, and I really enjoyed this walk. I hope you do too. :-)

  3. this is a brilliant walk I have done it a few times now, last time with my wife & dog was a week ago unfortunately for us it started to rain very heavily half way round but still finished this great walk