#1. Skipton Castle Woods – Ancient Natural Beauty (8/11/18)

This was a stimulating short stroll in beautiful, rare, ancient woodland with warm autumnal colours and multiple water features of interest. The 15-hectare woods were once part of a much larger forest in the Manor of Skipton, which for over 1,000 years provided the castle owners with timber for fuel, construction, hunting and fishing.

The excellent hunting, abundant timber and water convinced Baron Robert de Romille to build his castle here in 1090 which in turn established a town. Later the woodland helped power Skipton’s industrial revolution by supplying timber and water to the cotton, wool and corn mills in the area.

Seasonal highlights include spring wild garlic when the whole woodland is full of the heavy scents of this plant. At this time the woods also have colourful patches of bluebells, wood anemone and wild primrose. In autumn – one of the best times to visit – the paths are covered with golden leaves, and beech nuts and pines cones are scattered across the woodland floor.

Red kites and buzzards are regularly seen over the pine and spruce and woodpeckers often heard throughout the wood. Wagtails, dippers, ducks, herons and kingfishers frequent the various water features.

Links: See here and here for detailed and comprehensive information on the features and attractions of the woods and here for a useful trail map.

1. Looking north at the start of the trail near the Sawmill Entrance (main)
2. Info Board at start of trail
3. Lovely archer figure in willow installed in July 2018 points the way (artist unknown)
4. Sandy Goit, the high level channel on the left is supplied by a pond called Round Dam and used to supply power to the waterwheels at The Old Saw Mill and High Mill in Skipton town. To the right is Eller Beck.
5. A mature tree clings to the steep side of the wooded valley
6. A mighty moss-covered beech – one of the many impressive trees in the woodland
7. Bridge over Eller Beck
8. The Round Dam, holding water from above the weir on Eller Beck to feed the high level Sandy Goit which provided water to power various mills in Skipton
9. Reflections in Round Dam showing the high level path footbridge to the east
10. The weir on Eller Beck which forms Long Dam behind it and Round Dam to the right (east)
11. Looking north along the Long Dam valley with a semi-circular stone seat
12. Looking east along Long Dam
13. Autumn gold – leaf reflections in Long Dam
14. Looking south up towards the high level path skirting the wood and the fields of Storems Lathe
15. Looking east along the high level path running above the south side of the woods
16. Looking west down Eller Beck from the footbridge at the eastern edge of the woods
17. Looking north across the footbridge at the eastern edge of the woods
18. Looking north from Skipton Road (just east of the woods) towards Thorpe Fell. Note the goods train passing along the Swinden Quarry – Skipton Line
19. Skipton: looking NW up Raikes Road from the Holy Trinity church steps
20.  Holy Trinity church tower (restored in the 1650s after Civil War damage) – the church dates from around 1300
21. Looking north from Mill Bridge up the Springs Branch of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal
22. Looking north from Mill Bridge up Long Dam running under High Corn Mill (originally called Water Corne Mill established in 1310 and part of the Manor of Skipton) 
23. Looking south-east down Grassington Road towards Holy Trinity church with Skipton Moor beyond