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More Moth meanderings (starring the Squid family)

Wednesday 20 August 2003
Langstrothdale liaison
Day off work to help introduce fellow Head Heritager, Squid Tempest, and the Squid family, to the delights of stones in the Yorkshire dales.

Time was limited slightly by the fact that the Squid family and I were approaching the relevant area from opposite directions. Also, understandably given that he was on holiday and recovering from a nasty stomach 'bug' El Squiddo wasn't 'up for' a crack of dawn start….

This in mind, I arranged to meet the Squids at noon in the George at Hubberholme near Buckden – one of my favourite Dales hostelries and near Yockenthwaite cairn circle.

Deviation at Dumpit
Rejoicing in my freedom from the shackles of work, I headed off from home at 9am, to grasp the opportunity to attempt to find the Dumpit Hill stone circle near Hebden – reasonably neatly on the way to Hubberholme.

I stopped at SE032631 on the B6265 to the east of Hebden and parked at the bottom of a farm lane leading north. As I stepped from the car the day was cloudy but looking promising for later

The lane was fairly steep but reasonably comfortable walking, passing close to High Dene, on to Edge House then to Scar Top House farm. The finest spray of rain kept me cool without wetting me too much.

Scar Top House farm and the circle are just under a mile up the lane at a guess, though the gradient makes it seem further (on the way up at least)!

Dumpit Hill — Images

<b>Dumpit Hill</b>Posted by Moth<b>Dumpit Hill</b>Posted by Moth<b>Dumpit Hill</b>Posted by Moth<b>Dumpit Hill</b>Posted by Moth

Dumpit Hill — Fieldnotes

Wednesday 20 August 2003
For finding the circle, I strongly recommend the OS Explorer 1:25,000 map. Even with this map I found the point where the footpath and farm track split a little disorientating.

This point is particularly important, as the circle is on the moorland directly to the east of the footpath – the opposite side to the farm. In fact, as the Explorer map shows, the circle is directly in line with a farm wall at right angles to the path.

This wall is the one that links the farm lane as it leads slightly downhill towards the farm and the fieldwall that the runs northwards alongside the left (west) of the path.

If you stand on the path at the corner of these 2 walls, facing ENE, imagine where the wall that descends the short distance to the farm lane would go if it continued across the path to the ENE.

Follow that line by sighting on the hillside in front (still ENE) and after around 100-150 yards I guess, you should see the indistinct and low-lying circle stones.

Beware, however! As I found to my cost, should you go too far or wander slightly off course through the heather, you will find that the whole moor is a Pandora's Box of intriguingly laid out erratics!!! I spent a good half an hour and half a film finding and photographing what I call 'Isthatit' rocks….

Eventually with time running short, I returned to the fieldwall, reset myself, concentrated hard on keeping straight and walked directly to the circle, which is pretty unmistakable once you find it. (Aren't they always!)

All that remains of the circle is 4 or 5 low stones just visible through thick heather. At least 2 of the stones are easily identifiable though by the fact that they are distinctly set on end with their faces facing the inside of the circle.

The area of the circle is also on a slight embankment, visible at the moment by the fact the heather is even higher!!!! (Just marginally.)

Clear the heather and you'd probably have the remains of a nice little, typically understated, Yorkshire circle – quite like the Appletreewick stone circle – my former bête noir – see my notes on the relevant page…!

Like Appletreewick, it includes one large boulder that looks as if it could be naturally occurring and used as part of the circle....

A merry meeting!
Having floundered for a fair while before finally locating the circle, I was running late for my rendezvous. But a mixture of good fortune with traffic and knowledge of the roads (and a heavy accelerator foot) meant that I arrived at the pub 5 minutes ahead of the punctual family Squid.

A pint of Black Sheep Special and a pleasant lunch in great company later, I was back in the car leading my companions the short distance along the road to Yockenthwaite farm and the short but pleasant walk to Yockenthwaite cairn circle.

My luck with traffic seemed to have deserted me, however, and we were forced to crawl along behind a trio of tractors pulling unfeasibly large trailers unfeasibly slowly….

As I visited this site only 10 days before and included fieldnotes in my A dash round the dales weblog, I'll not say much here. I will comment that for once though, someone else seemed to know the circle was there, as a woman and (probably) her young grandson stopped to look and take photos.

The Druid's Altar
Next up was what seems to be rapidly becoming my 'pet' site – the Druid's Altar near Threshfield – though I've never written about it before. So we headed back through Hubberholme to Buckden, joining the B6160 south and following it to Threshfield.

Druid's Altar — Images

<b>Druid's Altar</b>Posted by Moth<b>Druid's Altar</b>Posted by Moth

Druid's Altar — Fieldnotes

Wednesday 20 August 2003
*Remember that the circle is marked as a cairn on both the Landranger and Explorer OS maps, but that such luminaries as Aubrey Burl regard it as a stone circle.*

Just at the north end of Threshfield we took the small (initially residential) 'Skirethorns Lane' to the west from the B6160, signposted to Wood Nook caravan site.

You can follow this lane well past the caravan site right onto the tops. It is increasingly narrow and in places steep, so take care! Park when you reach the first gate barring the lane – after perhaps as much as 3 miles. Or if you have time, park lower down and enjoy the walk!

From the small area where you can park just before the gate across the lane, the circle is visible a few hundred yards away. It is just to the left of the wall that leads off directly west across the moor. The lane itself bears slightly right (north) away from the wall.

The circle is probably fairly unimpressive on first sight, but really seems to grow in stature as you properly take it and its surroundings in. It's not just me either. Everyone I take there seems to feel the same, unprompted!

The stones of the 'errant Scottish 4 poster' stand on a distinct embanked mound, probably around 2 feet above the surrounding field. As has been documented on this website, the SW stone is broken off and lies in the centre of the 'circle'. The stone at the SE has had the mound cleared from its base, but still stands solidly.

Interestingly, the mound extends further out to the south east to reach a large stone that lies recumbent.

Whether this stone was ever anything to do with the circle is unlikely. But the extension of the mound looks to either be the earth removed from the base of the SE stone, or to suggest that the embankment actually originally extended a good 10 feet or more from the circle stones, at least to the south.

The weather was much cooler and the general atmosphere considerably 'wilder' than on my last visit with Jane. (See her fieldnotes).

Still a fantastic spot though!!! The very openness of the land really shows how visible even such a diminutive circle would've been for some distance – especially if the drystone walls were absent!

I'd forgotten but Burl relates that the name comes from the legend that 2 of the stones once had a lintel stone, making them form a tiny trilithon. It seems highly unlikely, but is a nice thought to bear in mind when looking at the stones!
After a good half-hour at the circle, the 'Squidlings' were cold and it was time for Squid and Sue to return with them to their base in Ingleton.

Going 'home'
We bade our farewells and I headed off to round out the afternoon with a quick visit to the 12 Apostles of Ilkley Moor. Again, I've never written about this circle before, despite it being probably the nearest (surviving) real circle to where I live.

The traffic on the A65 was starting to build up but I reached the 'White Wells' car park at SE118470 without too much trouble.

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The Twelve Apostles of Ilkley Moor — Fieldnotes

Wednesday 20 August 2003
I always forget how far it is from the White Wells car park at SE118470 to the 12 Apostles. It's the approach I first read about, so it's the approach I still use. I always reckon on about 20 minutes, but it's always more like 35-40 minutes.

I'd certainly recommend an OS map for a first visit, but the 1:50,000 Landranger 104 does fine for finding the circle. If planing to investigate the moor more fully, I'd go for the 1:25,000 Explorer though.

From the car park, follow the metalled lane up the hill to the White Wells building and the toilets.

Follow the clear wide track as it zigzags between the buildings and starts its craggy, dramatic and strenuous ascent onto the moor itself. (I also always forget how steep this part is…. Maybe next time I'll try coming from the Cow and Calf!!)

From here it's more or less 'follow your nose' and the 'straightest' path until reaching a fork at around SE123454. Take the left fork, which briefly descends to ford a small gill.

The path then begins to climb fairly gently but I find that this final section does turn into rather a 'drag'…. Parts of this section are on wooden walkways to cross boggier areas, but these could CERTAINLY use some repairs! Watch your feet!

As you reach the final crest onto pretty much the very top of the moor the circle comes into view, easily visible despite deep heather, on a slight but clear detour from the main path across the moor.

There are 12 stones. Or there were on this day. I've never seen it with more, but I've seen it with fewer!

"How so?" I hear from non-locals. Simply because there are actually 9 stones 'in-situ', but it's rare that some enterprising soul or souls haven't seen fit to add 2 or 3 extras to make up the 12….

Luckily they sensibly don't (fingers-crossed) try to actually dig the impromptu stones in, but just use bits of rock to 'wedge' them upright. (They're usually remarkably appropriate in size and shape too….)

I always forget how much I love this place. It's right on the 'roof' of West Yorkshire and (on a reasonably clear day) commands excellent views for at least 135 degrees.

I also have to say that I find the proportions of the circle remarkably pleasing – the stones averaging around 3-4 feet high with a circle diameter of around 50 feet?

To me it's typical Yorkshire. Down-to-earth and well-used – the paths are very well worn yet I've rarely seen anyone actually at the circle, and impressive without being ostentatious!!!

A wonderful circle to call your 'local'….

By the way, in my edition of Burl, he says 'nearly all' the stones are down. So some restoration has gone on, probably since 1995.
Every time I go there this circle still surprises and delights me. With each new visit it really does feel increasingly like a megalithic 'homecoming'.
Moth Posted by Moth
29th August 2003ce
Edited 27th December 2003ce

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