As we approached Thixendale the amount of lying snow still remaining was quite surprising considering that at home the snow has been completely gone for a few days. Packed ice on the roads gave an indication of how bad driving conditions must have been.
We parked at the east end of the village quite close to the village pub the "Cross Keys." The pub is quite small and sits down a short side street and could easily be missed. We'd hoped to sample some of the beers on offer at the end of our walk but as we passed we noted that it would be shut by the time we returned - Sunday Opening Hours 12pm to 3pm and 7pm to 10.30pm.
|Court, Honey & Back Dales|
Leaving the pub and village behind we headed north east along the bottom of Water Dale for a few hundred yards to the point where it was joined by Court Dale. The path then led up the side of Court Dale and once at the top we headed north west. From this point we could see down and across to some classic Yorkshire Wolds countryside - gentle rolling hills interrupted by steep dry valleys. At the north end of Court Dale the path turned north east and we left the the dale following a track that passed through an area planted for game cover. As the track twisted and turned over an area known as the Warrens we had to pick our way across rutted hard frozen snow. The route soon led to the top of the impressive aptly named Deep Dale that Wharram Percy sits at the top of.
We followed the path along the top of Deep Dale to the east and then north as the dale swung round revealing Wharram Percy in the distance at it's head. Turning north exposed us face on to a biting north wind that must have caused a wind chill several degrees below zero.
|Descending in to Wharram Percy|
As we reached the far end of Deep Dale we could see down in to Wharram Percy - the site of a medieval village that was cleared by the local landowners when they wanted to use the area for sheep grazing in an early version of the Highland clearances.
Extensive archaeological excavations occurred at Wharram Percy between the 1950s and 1990s and a number of information boards describe their findings and the re-settlement of the area which led to the addition of the cottages and now ruined church. A small stream emerges from springs at the bottom of the dale. In the past this served as a source of power and food by being dammed to create fishing ponds.
With the short days of January we couldn't linger long otherwise we'd have been completing the walk slipping around on ice in the dark. We reversed our route and arrived back at dusk after a bracing near six mile walk that blew the Christmas and New Year cobwebs away.