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My blog nick-name is SIR HUGH. I'm not from the aristocracy - my middle name is Hugh which relates to the list of 282 hills in Scotland compiled by Sir Hugh Munro in 1891. I climbed my last one (Sgurr Mor) on 28th June 2009


Thursday, 12 April 2018

Finter Gill, Dent

The Kendal Grufties are an enthusiastic mountain biking, adventure seeking couple I met on my recent walk in Kentmere, and they have since commented here, and in particular steered me to Finter Gill. 

The gill is a savagely deep cut ravine rising up the hillside south-west from the village of Dent.

Dent is a quirky village in the Yorkshire Dales, but a village with attitude which is impressed upon your feet with discomfort as you walk the mini-cobbled narrow streets. Here was the home of the Dent Knitters, also known as The Terrible Knitters of Dent operating a thriving home knitting industry for centuries. They employed a unique method with one of the needles fixed to a belt enabling these industrious women to demonstrate, so long ago, the ladies' ability to multi-task by additionally churning butter or whatever other pursuit suited. They were often in trouble for continuing to knit during the long sermons in church.

As if that wasn't enough for Dent it was also the birthplace of Adam Sedgwick in 1785 - he advanced the study of geology, but for a man of profound intelligence he let himself down (in my opinion) by opposing Darwin’s theory of evolution, but that doesn't seem to have had a major influence on his still acclaimed standing - here is part of a letter written to Darwin after the publication of Origin of Species - Darwin had been  a pupil of Sedgwick's, and surprisingly, despite Sedgwick's opposition to The Origin they remained friends.

"If I did not think you a good tempered and truth loving man I should not tell you that... I have read your book with more pain than pleasure. Parts of it I admired greatly; parts I laughed at till my sides were almost sore; other parts I read with absolute sorrow; because I think them utterly false and grievously mischievous — You have deserted—after a start in that tram-road of all solid physical truth—the true method of induction and started up a machinery as wild I think as Bishop Wilkins's locomotive that was to sail with us to the Moon. Many of your wide conclusions are based upon assumptions which can neither be proved nor disproved. Why then express them in the language & arrangements of philosophical induction?"

The ascent of the Gill is by a steep rocky path. In recent days and weeks we have had more than our share of rain but the stream in the gill a hundred feet or more down was only a trickle. Considering the depth of the gorge and the force that must gave been required to carve it out today's lack of forceful water after so much rain was a mystery. Before the path rises above the stream there is a large  flatbed of limestone with the stream running over and a small plaque high up on a tree announcing "Dancing Flags".

Higher up there are gaunt and gnarled tees creating quite a spooky atmosphere especially in the haunted light of this dismal day. After topping out I was onto high level classic dales tracks taking me south-east with views across Dentdale where the sun was making a brave attempt to shine on the slopes of Aye Gill Pike. More track and footpaths descended to take me back to Dent.

Stone Close Tea Rooms provided welcome tea and cake.


On the way to Finter Gill out of Dent. Pity about the wheelie bin

There is to me something enchanting about drystone walling, here skilfully enhanced by a magical little well

The sign announcing Dancing Flags (see photo below)

Dancing flags

Where are the witches?

Lime Kiln

From top of Finter Gill - it drops very steeply after this - note lack of much water

This and next two looking across Dentdale to Aye Gill Pike and the sun's struggle to get through

The old dales tracks


  1. One can imagine the Celestial Planners gathering after the Big Bang and looking at the agenda:

    Chairman: "We're 'ere to talk about Dentdale. First suggestions? About how it'll look."

    Retired Slave-ship Owner (co-opted in the absence of a Rack-Rent Mill Owner, given mills hadn't then been invented): "Anonymous in summer, bloody awful in winter. Oh, and there must be a steep 'ill."

    Chairman: "Ah like the cut of your jib."

    And I'm also imagining the return letter from Darwin to Sedgwick. "There, there Adam. Stick to Spurgeon's Sermons and I'll see you in a hundred years' time."

    I'm in a calm and conciliatory mood. Professional Bleeder is staying. The last time she stayed we played Das Rheingold, then Die Walkűre. This week it was - need I complete the list? - Siegfried and Gőtterdämmerung. For one's daughter to take up opera, aged 50, is remarkable; for her to swallow The Ring in two gulps (and argue about a minor detail in the plotting) is satisfying.

    My job here on earth is done, I can devote the rest of my life to pleasure. Oh, and an imaginary exchange of letters between Richard Wagner and Adam Sedgwick.

  2. RR - Those celestial planners should have been made to walk barefoot on the mini-cobbles like upturned individual Yorkshire pudding tins. I see Spurgeon died in Menton, the town where Gimmer and I finished walking the GR5 (Lake Geneva to Nice, but our alternative finish through the Mercantour ended at Menton - Gimmer had joined me for the last few days.)

    I presume you have admitted defeat on intellectualising this wayward brother who has only risen to being a very occasional highbrow - I dare not tell you of some of the TV programmes I enjoy, although I do draw the line at daytime watching.

    Congratulations on your conversion of Professional Bleeder, a feat that Darwin failed to consummate with Sedgwick.

  3. kendal grufties13 April 2018 at 18:10

    We weren't aware of the spat between Darwin and Sedgwick, how fascinating! Nor had I heard about the Dent knitters, what a marvellous contraption that must have been - as a knitter who needs all her concentration to keep to a pattern, I am in awe of that level of multi-tasking.
    Talking of contraptions, did you visit the barn on RHS after the lime kiln? It was stuffed full of old agricultural implements - not displayed to best effect to be sure, but still quite interesting.

  4. We always knew them as the 'Demon Knitters of Dent' - personally, and not wanting to trump your tale, I think this is the better, both for its onomatopoeia and its greater frightening power to impressionable children.
    Long long ago, my father and I were examining the shallow valley that turns itself into Heaton woods - it transpired that this valley was carved, not by the incessant rain of the Bradford area, as one might reasonably expect, but by glacial outflow, carving it with the enormous volumes and speed of the melt water flow as the last ice age glaciers retreated with the onset of rapid global warming : I learnt then that this was also the cause of many such step sided ghylls on the edges of the Pennine iceshelf - not the classic U shaped valleys of glacial action itself, but V shaped from sub-aerial and melt water erosion.
    Hence the lack of water, perhaps - maybe the uplands do not support large surface flows anymore.
    If you wait for the next ice age to melt (we are hoping that will happen this coming week !) , you may see it occur again. Deeper yet and deeper shall the gorge be cut.

  5. kendal grufties -Gruffties - I missed the barn, must have had my head down, but thanks for steering me in the direction of this little gem.

    Blogging on the narrow subject of outdoor wanderings can make for boring reading if one just writes a kind of route guide. Some ingenuity is required and research can provide that, but just quoting verbatim from a learned source is lazy and often boring again so one has to find a way of putting your own stamp on the nuggets you have unearthed. Other happenings can be used as what I call " blogger's gifts" which may arise from people watching, or a photo of the three inch gash in your leg, or your boot embedded in a mud bath after being sucked from your foot - you get the idea. But all this is only possible if you enjoy writing for its own sake coupled with a certain amount of self promotion. It is not always easy to achieve some originality and some of my posts end up being more or less a record for my own reference. Here is one of my better ones, it was towards the end of my 58 daywalk round the Welsh boundary, worth another aring now?

    From my journal:

    Monday 13th June 2011 - DAY 55

    I am camping at Newgale at the northern end of Newgale Sands which is a huge three kilometre sweep of golden beach which attracts the surfers, and I am eating in The Duke of Edinburgh which is also residential. I enquired if I could get breakfast but they said they didn't do breakfasts which I found difficult to believe. This place seems to be staffed by, and frequented by, a caste that resembles the characters in Little Britain; everybody seems weird in some way - perhaps I have finally flipped? Some examples: a small person looking like Bernie Ecclestone who has just come and complimented me on the way I ate my soup - "very few people do it properly these days, nice to see". This will perhaps rank as the oddest encounter of the trip. A woman wearing a black jacket and tight black trousers (Richard the Third) but with hair like Worzel Gummage. An elderly couple - the man goes to bar to ask for more lemonade in his lager - returns to find wife with head in hands, "are you having one of your moods" he asks, and then they move to another table. An elderly man on his own looking very depressed with head bent staring at a glass of lemonade which he does not appear to be drinking. There are more than this but I draw the line here. Amidst all this the hotel is presented as being reasonably sophisticated but we are subject to a tv showing Coronation Street which nobody is watching.

    Bravely, I am going to risk a dessert and hope to get out before I end up in the loony bin.

    Believe it or not a guy has just walked in who is over seven feet tall. I'm off!


    gimmer - Heaton woods - there you were absorbing scientific knowledge and me with only an interest in climbing the trees and damming the stream. That's why, when I told you my camera had ingested fluff onto its sensor when the lens retracted, you pointed out the air would be pushed out as the lens retracts, and only sucked in as it was projected.

  6. Yes that one is worth retelling again and again - the images you conjure are just that tiny bit more 'lifelike' than the reality that one can actually visualise and believe it all !
    As for Heaton woods - they always seemed a bit tame to me and their openness made widegame tactics tricky to disguise - but I recall they still worked if the opposition had no strategic insight.
    So it goes. Again.

  7. gimmer - I'm not sure Kurt would have approved of the additional "again." I used that word twice after some debate relating to the two kinds of boring.

  8. I think I've been that way Conrad, when I've climbed Whernside from Dent which I've done a few times, but not for quite a long while. An area to revisit I think. Thanks for that.

  9. Beating the bounds - I've roamed the Yorkshire Dales for over fifty years but there are still many places unvisited.