A convivial company gathered at Marske, a small village off the main road leading west from Richmond, ready for a fine circular ramble into the surrounding hills. We were promised woodland, open meadows and moorland, as well as the remains of the last working lead mine in Swaledale, the former industry for which this area was famous.
Passing through the village with its attractive cottage gardens, we soon reached increasingly open country with broadening views. We passed a section where a recent landslide had resulted in a slightly awkward footpath diversion, and then a remarkably clean, tidy but remote farmhouse which we were told was regularly used as a venue for wedding receptions. We passed an unexpected tea room, where if it had been teatime we might have stopped; we were nevertheless greeted by a very friendly group of goats who displayed their agility by leaping onto the adjacent stone walls. A little further on we passed the abandoned village dwellings and farm buildings of Holgate.
A steep scramble down to the nearby Holgate Beck and up the other side led us back to wide moorland views, and a well-maintained path towards the tiny hamlet of Washfold. Here we turned down a small, secluded valley to the house of Chris one of our longest-standing members who kindly invited us to a lunch stop, with cake, in his garden.
Suitably refreshed, and continuing further down the same valley, we soon reached the remains of the lead mine. A few abandoned stone buildings, water courses and intriguing passageways into the hillside hinted at the activity that would have taken place here a few hundred years ago. All was peaceful now, and we enjoyed an easy path alongside the beck, passing again close to the teashop that we had seen earlier.
Now we climbed again to regain wide views from the opposite side of the valley, and we could see way beyond the dales as far as the distant Cleveland Hills. After a final descent and another crossing of the beck, we found ourselves back at our starting point in Marske.
Thanks are due to Peter for arranging and facilitating this most interesting and enjoyable walk, and to Chris for his hospitality.