Family History Notebook

Swindale, near Hilton (Westmorland)

This Swindale Beck rises on Warcop Fell and flows west below Swindale Edge to join Scordale Beck.

Swindale and Swindale Beck from Scordale

The track to upper Swindale

A well graded bridleway climbs the north side of Swindale to the lead workings around Christy Bank in the upper reaches. The bridleway continues over Musgrave Fell joining the Brough to Teesdale many miles later but the only sign on the ground is the occasional marker post positioned, presumably, by Cumbria County Council. Note: this is a remote spot - a walker went missing in this area in March 2006 and his body was eventually found at Christy Bank over a month later.

You are warned

and this is why!

   The Ordnance Survey just marks one disused shaft above Siss Gill at 771208, but there is a fenced off stone-lined shaft about 20 feet deep where the bridleway crosses Siss Gill and an adit higher up on the stream to the east. There appears to be about 200 - 300 m3 of dead rock forming the spoil heap at the mouth of the adit.

The spoil heap and the track across Tinside Rigg

Christy Bank and the spoil heap


Ruins at Christy Bank

Exit from adit at top of spoil heap (honest!)

Shaft, around 3 feet diameter, perhaps 20 feet deep in Sill Gill. Stone lined.

In the Gill there are the remains of two buildings and to the west a number of depressions that looked to me like old shafts. However the OS features an 'area of shake holes' in this area along the 490 m contour, as well as 530m and 580 m*. The amount of work required to create the track up Swindale implies that the workings were, at least for a period, successful. Another track, unmarked on the map, contours across the south side of the dale from the col between Roman Fell and Tinside Rigg - presumably to other workings. Yet another track is marked on the map as an extension of Musgravefell Lane running across the south side of Tinside Rigg - adjacent to a group of quarries?

*The 'groove' of the track leads away from the  bridle-path to the 490m line of shake holes. The bridle-path is no longer defined from the point of departure. The depressions at 490m could well run along the line of a vein. The adit could be intended to dewater a vein worked at 580m. If anyone has more information I would be interested.

Exploration in this area would need to be conducted with due care!

Apart from these mining/quarrying developments (probably of the 19th century) it is unlikely there was any permanent human habitation in this Swindale. (The junction with Scordale Beck is at 300m and the valley runs up from there to the plateau of Warcop Fell at 600m).

Note that access to this area is restricted since it forms part of the army's Warcop training ranges. Access (along the rights of way) is generally available at weekends and at other times when warning flags are not flying.

Swindale origins