Deepdale and the Occupation Road – Approx 7.25 miles
OS Explorer OL2 Yorkshire Dales Southern & Western Areas
Starting Grid Reference: SD722859
Chapel by Whernside Manor – Dyke Hall Lane – Blakerigg – Deepdale – Occupation Road – Nun House Outrake – Deepdale Lane – Bridge End – Chapel.
A beautiful, warm morning; clear with blue skies and patchy cloud.
Another glorious Bank Holiday morning dawned and, with avoidance of the hordes descending on the otherwise peaceful dale being the order of the day, a quiet morning’s walk was needed before our battle homeward with the traffic commenced. Although some of the paths described here are well known, others are less so, with the possibility of at least a little peace and quiet.
From the chapel, we followed the lane southwards into Deepdale. Gradually, the lane gave way to a track linking the delightfully positioned farms and houses in this part of the dale. Just beyond the last house, we came across a run-down barn occupying a beautiful spot. Unbidden, dreams of a conversion flew into our minds – the setting, with it’s view across the valley floor to Great Coum and Crag Hill behind, was so idyllic we could almost picture ourselves living the good life here.
A little further into the dale, we began to find the relaxation we were seeking. After crossing a small beck we accidentally disturbed a Curlew; it’s plaintive cry sweeping across the dale on the breeze. The path continued through fields of reedy grass and meadows flecked with carpets of wild flowers.
At the end of the dale, as the fields gave way to fell, a steep climb brought us up to the road. We stopped for coffee just below the stile, drinking in the views as well. From this vantage point the whole of Deepdale stretched away below us, with Aye Gill Pike beyond. A hill-farming Geography lesson spread out in front of our eyes – the relationship between field and farm, man and moor, livestock and livelihood never more clearly illustrated.
The ensuing road section is mercifully short. Cresting the hill the Occupation road is reached on the right; a track that contours around the fell-side as far as Barbon Dale. It can be notoriously muddy after wet weather, but the first mile or so has been refurbished and the subsequent sections are more manageable and firmer in drier conditions.
Although rocky underfoot, the next couple of miles are easily negotiated. Wonderful views are to be had in a sweep from the Howgills to upper Dentdale. At the top of Nun House Outrake, we stopped for lunch, gazing across the fell-side into upper Dentdale, the station building visible on the side of Great Knoutbury Hill in the distance.
Then, in the heat of the middle of the day, we began our descent towards Slack. Again the going was easy – a blessing in the warm conditions of one of the hottest days of the year so far. At Deepdale Lane we turned left and, a few minutes later, took a field path on our right down to Bridge End, a short walk along the lane from the start.
All in all, it was a good morning’s walk – not too strenuous, which was a blessing given the heat. Although a fair proportion was along rocky tracks, the going is relatively easy and the views are wonderful. Deepdale is a hidden treat and, in an area awash with great paths, often overlooked for walking; which suited us just fine.