The Old Gang Smelting Mill & Gunnerside Gill: A Circular Walk

A walk of two halves. The first part ascends gently on good tracks, passing the remains of the Old Gang Smelting Mill, before crossing the stream and crossing Melbecks Moor and passing the spoil heaps from the long ceased lead mining industry. The path descends via one of the 'hushes' to the Bunton Level above Gunnerside Gill. The return leg is on grassy paths which contour Brownsey Moor and pass through farmland, often following dry stone walls and passing working farms and traditional barns.

Technical sheet
No. 3297898
A Melbecks walk posted on 26/05/20 by Alwayswiththehills. Update : 20/11/20
Calculated time Calculated time: 4h45[?]
Distance Distance : 8.3mi
Vertical gain Vertical gain : 1066ft
Vertical drop Vertical drop : 1050ft
Highest point Highest point : 1860ft
Lowest point Lowest point : 1135ft
Average Difficulty : Average
Back to starting point Back to starting point : Yes
Walking Walking
Area Area : Yorkshire Dales
Location Location : Melbecks
Starting point Starting point : N 54.393997° / W 2.018142°
Download : -
Farm Beneath Low Scar Lime Kiln The cairn to look out for!! Looking over the valley from the bottom of Gorton Hush


Park near to Surrender Bridge. There is parking here for a dozen or so cars in the various areas either side of the bridge itself. This route is described from the larger parking place south of the bridge.

(D/A) From the parking place cross the bridge and ascend to an obvious stone track on the left.

(1) Turn left and follow the stone track, walking past a metal gate which bars access. This good track is followed to the Old Gang Smelting Mills.

(2) Taking care, explore the remains of the buildings, you can see the chimney flues which ran up the hillside. Return to the track and continue passing beneath stone pillars up on the right; these are the remains of the peat store for the mill. Ignore a small bridge on the left and a left junction in the track. Continue right on the track to Level House Bridge.

(3) Go through the gate and turn left over the bridge (the ruined remains of Level House are a little further on if you want to explore them), ascend the fellside via the track which passes to the right of the Old Rake Hush and through the spoil heaps of the Old Gang Mine. As it levels out on a wasteland of crushed rock spoil you will see a rusting stone crusher on the right. Shortly after this, you will come to a wooden post with markers for two paths.

(4) At the wooden post, you will see a fenced off area. This fence surrounds a mine shaft that has some iron railway tracks over it. Go and look but do not climb over the fence. At this point, you have the choice of three descents, each one following a hush.
A) You can follow a line of stone cairns, these will lead you down the Bunton Hush to the Bunton Level. However, it is easy to veer left and end up following the path that descends diagonally across Swina Bank.
B) As shown on the map for this walk, go back to the wooden post and follow the track for a hundred meters or so. You will see a wooden signpost ahead of you beside the track but 50 metres before it look for a small cairn on the left of the track (5) and beyond it a bigger but flatter pile of stones and top of a gully. Turn left at the small cairn (5) and walk to the top of the gully, this is Friarfold Hush and the path descends this to the Bunton Level. (Wooden signpost)
C) If you walk past the small cairn and arrive the signpost for Keld, don't despair. Turn left and follow the fainter path which descends Gorton Hush. At the bottom, it joins another path. Turn left and walk towards an obvious outcrop of rock. You will join the path descending Friarfold Hush and can follow this down to the Bunton Level.

Take care on the descents of all three hushes as there is loose rock in places.

(6) There is a ruined building at the Bunton Level and the old level entrance itself. If you have a torch, go and have a look inside. It usually has a stream running from it and it is wise not to go inside. (If you had time you could walk northwards and drop onto the bottom of the Gill where you could explore the remains of the Blakethwaite Smelt Mill.) Otherwise, head south along the path, cross a stream and about 200m after this you will arrive at a fork in the path.

(7) Take the left hand fork and ascend the grassy path, passing some rocky outcrops and an old spoil heap to arrive at a lime kiln. (This is where the path crossing Swina Bank arrives if you do inadvertently, or deliberately descend this way)

(8) From the lime kiln, follow the path across the moor and through a gap in the dry stone wall into the Winterings Pastures. The path descends gently across the pasture and in spring Curlews will take to the air to protect their offspring. Pass beside a farm and follow the track to pass beside Whin Hall (farm) then continue to a place where the track joins another which ascends from the right at an obvious barn where the roof is missing from the right hand third.

(9) From the junction, keep following the track, with the wall on your right, (do not take the greener track diagonally up the hillside). You will arrive at a place where the wall slants to the right and away from the rutted track (Barf End).

(10) Keep following the rutted track which turns right and drops towards the wall. At the gate, turn left and walk with the wall on your right along a faint path in the grass. It is easy to lose confidence here as the path looks more like a sheep track but persevere. The track passes between the wall and a small outcrop of rock then it veers left away from the wall. It will lead you over Stoops Rigg and down to another gate. (If you miss the faint path just stick with the wall on your right and you will get to the same place)

(11) At the gate, you will see a walled enclosure with a disused barn ahead of you. Follow the path (which is now more obvious and looks like it is used by a quad bike) diagonally across to the wall beside the barn and then follow the path, again with the wall on your right. The OS map shows the path slanting up the fellside, ignore this and keep on the path which contours the hill. At one point the wall veers away on the right and drops into a depression, just stick to the path and contour around to rejoin the wall at a wooden gate.

(12) Go through the gate. Across the field, on your left, is another enclosure with a prominent corner. You are taking another quad bike track down and diagonally across the field to the left, it avoids the prominent corner but joins a better path at the corner of the next enclosure along.

(13) At the corner of the enclosure join the better track. Turn left and walk with the wall on your left. At the end of the enclosure, there is a stream and it is muddy but this can be crossed via a flagstone. Walk straight over to the next disused barn and wall. Now follow the track with the wall on your right. You will pass through a gate and enter more open fellside. The track contours the fellside with some wooden grouse butts above and on your left. Keep along this track to the road.

(14) At the road, turn left and walk along and then descend to your car.(D/A)

Waypoints :
D/A : mi 0 - alt. 1135ft - Surrender Bridge
1 : mi 0.11 - alt. 1152ft - Stone track
2 : mi 1.11 - alt. 1299ft
3 : mi 1.95 - alt. 1496ft - Gate
4 : mi 3.06 - alt. 1857ft - Wooden post
5 : mi 3.23 - alt. 1837ft - Small cairn
6 : mi 3.54 - alt. 1417ft - Ruined building
7 : mi 3.86 - alt. 1332ft
8 : mi 4.22 - alt. 1460ft - Lime kiln
9 : mi 5.59 - alt. 1335ft
10 : mi 5.82 - alt. 1385ft
11 : mi 6.38 - alt. 1355ft - Gate
12 : mi 6.95 - alt. 1362ft - Gate
13 : mi 7.16 - alt. 1234ft - Enclosure
14 : mi 8.1 - alt. 1227ft - Road
D/A : mi 8.3 - alt. 1142ft - Surrender Bridge

Useful Information

It is always possible to shelter from the wind in the lee of the ruined buildings.
The moorland can be bleak, particularly if it is wet and overcast. This walk is best enjoyed on a dry day, but even so, take a wind/waterproof coat with you.

It can be wet underfoot and some sections can be muddy, particularly on the return leg of the route. Even in dry weather the loose stone on the descents of the hushes could turn an ankle so I recommend a walking boot. Similarly, there are places in and around the disused building that are rabbit warrens and it is easy to twist an ankle in a rabbit hole if you are not looking where you put your feet.

If taking a dog please keep it on a lead, especially when there is livestock in fields. You are also crossing an active grouse moor and you may come across some yellow signs reminding you to keep your dogs to the paths. Please follow the country code and close gates behind you.

Visorando and this author cannot be held responsible in the case of accidents or problems occuring on this walk.

During the walk or to do/see around

This is the third walk in my series of routes that explore the remains if the lead mining industry. Please see : and

Some nice information about these mines and others in the area can be found here :

This walk is continually interesting. The highlights are :

- The remains of the Old Gang Smelting Mill are of interest, as are the remains of the industry such as the crushing machine, mine shafts and hushes.

- The walk around the side of Brownsey Moor is very different to the first part of the walk, you are likely to see no one else on this section and the dales scenery with the patchwork of fields, stone walls and barns is superb.

- There is a pub The Kings Head' in Gunnerside and a super little tea shop in Muker which is the next village up the valley. There are tea shops in Reeth and at the Dales Bike Centre in Fremington.

Opinions and comments


Global average : 5/5
Number of opinions : 3
Description quality : 5/5
Routemap quality : 5/5
Walk interest : 5/5

on Mon 19 Oct 2020 18:29:11 CEST

Global average : 5 / 5

Date of walk : 29/09/20
Description quality : Very good
Routemap quality : Very good
Walk interest : Very good

Fabulous walk, you are exposed to variable weather conditions so the need for appropriate clothing.

on Sat 05 Sep 2020 13:45:04 CEST

Global average : 5 / 5

Date of walk : 29/07/20
Description quality : Very good
Routemap quality : Very good
Walk interest : Very good

A great walk with plenty to stir interest in the bygone days of the area. The route direction was faultless.

on Mon 22 Jun 2020 10:19:54 CEST

Global average : 5 / 5

Date of walk : 20/06/20
Description quality : Very good
Routemap quality : Very good
Walk interest : Very good

A really interesting and enjoyable walk. The only scary bit was going down Fairfold Hush, a bit out of my comfort zone but a sense of achievement at the bottom. The views were cracking especially in the second half of the walk so took the time to sit and stare and listen to the birds and lambs.

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The GPS track and description are the property of the author.