Welcome to Littondale

Littondale has retained its has peace and tranquility, with the world rushing past the end of the Dale on the Skipton-Kettlewell road. Littondale is rich in Bronze Age and Iron Age settlements, and has been a sheltered fertile valley for 5,000 years or more.

But is it Littondale? Wordsworth’s White Doe of Rylstone followed Emily to a cottage hidden ‘in the deep fork of Amerdale’ and Whitaker introduced his chapter on Arncliffe parish with ‘The valley of the Wharf forks off into two great branches, one of which retains the name of Wharfedale… the other, usually called Littondale, but more anciently and properly Amerdale… so named in Saxon times from Amer… probably it’s first planter.’ Amerdale House, in Arncliffe was for many years the home of the Hammond family, the local squires. The new village hall opened in Arncliffe in 1982 replacing the wooden ex-army hut from the First World War. Named Amerdale Hall out of affection for the Hammond family and to establish that it was for the whole dale. It can be confusing now, since so few people know the old name Amerdale.

The hill tops above the dale have traces of circular dwellings and tiny square fields, where Celtic peoples lived, while the dale itself was too full of great trees for their stone axes to fell. The dale began to be settled by the Anglo-Saxons. Following the Norman Conquest in 1066, the three villages of Arneclif, Hocheswic and Litone were seized by the Normans as recorded in the Domesday Survey in 1086. The monks of Fountains Abbey were given much of Littondale in the 12th Century except for two oxgangs (a small area of land that an ox could plough in a season) and pasture for 300 sheep which were given to Sawley Abbey. The monks of Fountains and Sawley squabbled for years over the ownership of Litton Mill at the foot of the Foss.

Hawkswick

Hawkswick

Or Hauk’s dairy farm is the first village as you come up the dale on the tiny back road; ‘the sunny hamlet of Hawkswick, sheltering under the hill, and trapping every ray of sun that shines in the valley throughout the day.’ (Boyd)
There are signs of early medieval ploughing to be seen on Windbank: [...]

Arncliffe

Arncliffe

Arncliffe (Old English, earna-clif: eagles cliff) is the biggest village in Littondale.
‘The situation of Arncliffe Church is extremely sweet and lovely’, wrote its vicar, William Boyd in 1893. ‘It has no wonderful architectural pretension, but there is a soft repose about its pleasant old tower and a cared for appearance throughout.’ Arncliffe also has [...]

Litton

Litton

Litton, meaning village on a roaring stream or torrent, has a tiny village green.
Crystal Beck and Potts Beck pour off the hills to the north of the river, and the Foss (force or waterfall) to the south. Old Litton snuggles below the Foss. Now just one farmhouse and the remains of another called [...]

Halton Gill

Halton Gill

Meaning a farmstead in a narrow valley, haugh and gill both mean narrow valley.
In the early 17th Century the Fawcett family who had farmed Upper Heselden since the days of the monks gave money for the support of a curate to serve Halton Gill chapel.
Two served with great distinction. Miles Wilson, a Cambridge [...]

Fox Up

Foxup and Cosh

At the very top of the dale, Foxup means upstream with the foxes.
This is where the River Skirfare begins its journey through the dale to join the Wharfe. Until quite recently there were three farms in Foxup, only one remains. The hamlet is only a quarter of a mile from Halton Gill and [...]