From Your Front Door: The Chevin 25.04.2016

When I received an email from Zoe at Outdoor Bloggers requesting posts on the theme of ‘From Your Front Door’, I knew exactly where I had to write about.  My home town, Otley is dominated by The Chevin, which is really the first of the Pennine hills as you travel up the valley of the Wharfe.  The name is thought to derive from the Celtic word cefn, which features unchanged in the Welsh language to this day, and means ridge.  Nowadays, The Chevin is a Forest Park, and is well-loved by local people.  I recently headed out one evening after work to explore it anew for this post.

The most popular route up The Chevin is via the Victorian steps that climb straight up to Surprise View from Otley’s old railway station.  It’s a good route, but it is a very steep climb and you do miss out the western end of the ridge.  I prefer to use the paths that climb up from West Chevin Road, or as on this occasion, Sinclair Field.


Great Dib from Sinclar’s Field



The path climbs along an escarpment through the trees


Almscliffe Crag seen across the valley


Great Dib – the steep slope here is the result of a post-glacial landslip

I headed from Great Dip up onto the highest parts of The Chevin.  The summit itself isn’t particularly exciting and I didn’t visit it on this occasion.  Far more impressive is nearby Surprise View (925 ft), which most people believe to be the summit anyway.  This stands in an area of open moorland, well above the woods.


Open moorland near Surprise View


The gritstone outcrop at Surprise View


The person in this shot is standing on the highest of the rocks at Surprise View


Looking north-west up Wharfedale.  Round Hill is the furthest hill in view.


Looking east from Surprise View.  In exceptionally clear weather, the white horse at Kilburn in the North York Moors can be seen.

From Surprise View, I headed along Miller Lane to the Danefield Estate, the lower and more densely wooded eastern half of The Chevin.


The sun was nicely catching this birch in Cleaver Wood

As I climbed up to Deer Park Plantation, a red kite flew just above the tops of the trees; a beautiful sight with the sun lighting up the underside of the body.  However, I wasn’t quick enough with the camera to get a photo.


Deer Park Plantation

The highest part of the Danefield Estate is crowned by a trig point, which must have had an extensive view when it was first erected.  It now stands forlornly in a fire break between Deer Park and Memorial Plantations.


The lonely trig point

The red kite came back to taunt me as I was standing by the trig point, this time making sure that it was just high enough in the sky to make a poor photograph.


Path junction at Flint Wood.  You could go for a different walk every day for a week or more on The Chevin, there are so many paths.

I headed down through Quarry Wood towards Caley Deer Park, passing the only wetland area on the hill as I went.


Wetland area above Caley Deer Park


Part of the old deer park

J. M. W. Turner used to stay at Farnley Hall on the other side of the valley.  The Hall was the seat of the Fawkes family, who owned the Danefield Estate at that time, and it was whilst staying with the family that Turner was inspired by a thunderstorm passing over The Chevin to paint Hannibal Crossing the Alps.  Turner would also later paint the crags themselves.


Looking across to Washburndale from above Caley Deer Park


Knotford Nook and the entrance to Washburndale from the ‘Turner viewpoint’, as I call it

From the deer park I headed back west, passing the Main Crag en route.  Though popular with climbers, there weren’t any about on this occasion.


Caley Crags


Another View of the crag

Beyond the crags, I headed through Poolscar Wood and soon found myself at one of my favourite spots on The Chevin, the bridge over the Holbeck.  One day I intend to walk the full length of this beck, keeping as close to the water as I can.


Looking up the Holbeck…


…And looking down

Foxscar Wood is home to the remains of an Iron-Age settlement, though it has to be admitted that a very good imagination is required to reconstruct it.


The site of the Iron-Age settlement

Danefield Wood, the westernmost of the plantations on the Danefield Estate, puts on a great display of bluebells in May.  I noticed that they were just starting to come out as I passed and made a mental note to return in a week or two.

The Chevin had one final treat in store for me – as I crossed East Chevin Road, I was witness to the most glorious sunset.  I’ll leave you with a few pictures of it – which show far better than my words can why you shouldn’t dismiss what you can find from your front door.


3 thoughts on “From Your Front Door: The Chevin 25.04.2016

  1. Jenni

    Such a lovely description of your adventure, Neil! Wonderful photos, too.

    I loved exploring The Chevin when we lived in Leeds and then in Arthington. Although I love my home, I do greatly miss the beautiful Lower Wharfedale Valley with its lush green hills.

    We must meet for a walk there sometime!

    Jenni x
    Love your post! I have learnt so much!
    We witnessed the very traditional ‘Green Man’ ceremony when we visited a village with pagan beliefs in Romania a couple of years ago. It’s interesting that May Day is still a public holiday here in the UK yet few of us know its origins.

    Thanks for sharing with the Outdoor Bloggers

    Jenni x
    The Thrifty Magpies Nest


  2. Jenni

    Such a lovely description of your adventure, Neil. Wonderful photos too!

    I love The Chevin. Although I love where I live now, I greatly miss living in Arthington in Lower Wharfedale valley with its lush green hills.

    Thanks for sharing with the Outdoor Bloggers

    Jenni x
    The Thrifty Magpies Nest



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