Hag Dyke

Hag Dyke on the slopes of Great Whernside near Kettlewell in the Yorkshire Dales

Hag Dyke, in the picturesque Yorkshire Dales is a Scout Hostel administered by the Ben Rhydding Scout and Guide Group in Ben Rhydding, Ilkley. The Hostel was bequeathed to the group in 1947 and has been run by a group of volunteer wardens for the benefit of Scouts and other Youth Groups ever since.

The building was originally a farmhouse and its occupants traced back to 1730, but it is probably older and could have housed miners working in Dowber Ghyll lead mines opened in 1680, the area of the kitchen is the oldest. At 1525 feet it was believed to be the highest house in the former West Riding. A “Dyke” in Dales dialect means a mountain dividing wall and “Hag” means enclosed land or an intake (from the moor in this case). The name therefore means the wall bounding the intake from the moor. The house is reputed to be haunted!!

In 1959/60 the farmhouse was entirely rebuilt as a Scout hostel. A new roof and new floors were installed. The long barn (with its’ traditional width of 16 to 18 feet to allow turning of 2 oxen) was pulled down and rebuilt as a common room and dormitories. The original roof beams were preserved and a 44 inch thick wall excavated to provide a connecting door, nearly killing a workman in the process. Rebuilding took a year, with everything being brought up by local farmers tractors. Workmen stayed at Hay Tongue farm and the weather was incredibly fierce

The Chapel
At 1533 feet it is the highest in England. First opened in memory of late Group Scoutmaster Cecil Findlay in 1954 being converted from a hay-store of the adjoining barn. In 1966 the chapel was extended with a memorial window to the late County Commissioner John Foster Beaver Jnr. It was dedicated by the Bishop of Bradford on July 23rd 1966. An additional window in memory of Ronnie “Skipper” Ibbetson was installed in 1985.

The District

Kettlewell was an Anglican village dating from about 700A.D. and is mentioned in the Domesday Book. Later it was occupied by Norse farmers who gave Norse names to most of the area. Due to nearby monasteries and its position on cross roads it was a busy place in the Middle Ages. A weekly market was granted to Kettlewell in 1320 A.D. Later the main London to Richmond trunk road ran through the village and over Park Rash. Posting inns were the Kings Head Kettlewell and Horse House in Coverdale. Later the opening of the lead mines made it even busier. Most of the village was destroyed in June1686 A.D. by a cloudburst and extensive flooding. The Kings Head is one of only four in the whole country named after Charles 1st. The Tor Dyke crossing the Park Rash road near the cattle grid was built in 69 A.D. by the Brigantes as an outlying defence of their tribal centre at Stanwick against the Romans. Later it marked the boundary of Scale Park, a medieval hunting park, used amongst others by Charles II.

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