In an area of abandoned mines, in the Wharfedale area of the Yorkshire Dales, lies Troller’s Gill; a collapsed limestone cavern shrouded in history, myth and mysterious inhabitants. Hidden in plain sight but impossible to spot from the roadside if you didn’t already know it was there, is a little gem of a walk that really packs a punch into such a short route.
Troller’s Gill is home to naughty trolls, hideous goblins and cheeky pixies but is also haunted by a fearsome barghest (a monstrous black dog with razor sharp teeth) which is said to have the power to turn unsuspecting hikers to stone. It’s even said to have possibly inspired Arthur Conan Doyle’s novel “The Hound of the Baskervilles” so if you’re feeling brave enough to take on these haunting creatures, read on!
At a Glance
Difficulty: Moderate due to some scrambling sections
Total ascent: 126m
Est Time: 1 hour
Starting location: Roadside parking on New Road. Find location on Google Maps here.
Parking Cost: Free but please be mindful of not blocking access.
Dog friendly: Yes if capable of scrambling sections over rocks.
Key features: an abandoned mine to explore, a stream that appears as if from nowhere and a wonderfully rocky ravine.
*Please note: this route is impassable in and immediately after heavy rain.
Troller’s Gill is nestled within the Yorkshire Dale’s rolling hills near the villages of Appletreewick and Skyreholme but as we drove closer to the roadside parking I really started to question whether the photos I’d seen online were real or not; the ravine is completely hidden from the roadside and impossible to spot unless you know where you are looking. Fortunately, this makes Troller’s Gill a quiet place to explore and on a sunny Spring day, we had the whole place to ourselves which really heightened the sense of isolation within the surrounding hills. This area was also once the site of a now disused lead and fluorite mine but the workings still remain as you make your way towards Troller’s Gill. The history of this seemingly inconspicuous ravine though is what makes your visit here the most exciting part; amongst the nooks and crannies of each towering side of the ravine wait trolls ready to hurl rocks down on passing hikers, evil pixies who stalk those who enter the ravine and bloodsucking gnomes to name but a few.
It’s really not a place to visit alone…
BUT if you manage to escape all these without harm then you’ll be rewarded with a stunning, albeit eerie, walk amongst a magical backdrop.
From the roadside parking, take the track through the gate which cuts across the field. This path winds gently downhill until you’re in a small valley with hills on either side of you. Within about 15 minutes of leaving your car, look to your right and you’ll see the disused mine workings of Gill Heads Mine, abandoned since the early 1980’s when mining for fluorite ceased. The entrance to the mine is behind a large metal gate in the shape of a half circle with collapsed rockfall in front of it.
Entrance to the mine is not recommended as it is not maintained and the chance of sudden collapse may be high. However, being the danger mouse that I am, this is what draws me in to explore so I checked it out for you! Once past the gate, the huge echoey and incredibly slippery tunnel leads down to a flooded section and a ladder. Up the ladder and further into the mine are more flooded chambers; really not worth getting wet and muddy for in the pitch black in all honesty!
Please be aware that there are other abandoned mine workings and caves in this area and they should not be entered. Exercise caution while exploring as there may be hidden potholes and dangers.
Once you’ve enjoyed exploring around the mine workings, the route takes you further down towards the beck which flows down to the village of Skyreholme and beyond. This is a picture perfect place for a lunch stop if the weather permits and having read the mythical stories surrounding the ravine, it really felt like the perfect place for pixies and trolls to be hiding!
As you head back upstream, keep a beady eye out for another stream that seems to appear from nowhere beneath your feet! This is where the river at the head of the ravine disappears underground before reappearing again at the foot of the ravine. In wet weather, the river will be in full flow which is why this route becomes impassable in heavy rain.
This is where the fun starts; you’ll need to find your way up and over rocky, scrambly sections following the river upstream to get out of the gorge. Be sure to look up to check that those pesky trolls aren’t aiming rocks at you! There is no escape route so once you commit you’ll either need to retrace your steps or continue your route. The scramble is relatively straightforward and you’ll wind with the river through the gorge but it can be slippery and it’s a good idea to be prepared for wet feet!
At the end of the gorge you need to keep walking until you reach a small waterfall with a footbridge crossing the river. Cross the river here and take the path uphill which will lead you back onto the top and you’ll be able to see your starting point in the distance. Eventually, you’ll join up with the wide, stone path that you started on, taking you back to the safety of your car and free from the watchful eyes of the creatures lurking behind you!
Map and key locations
Access the route on the OS Map App here.
1: Roadside parking in a small layby on New Road.
2: Access to the disused and abandoned Gill Head Mine.
3: The point at Skyreholme Beck where you head back towards Troller’s Gill.
4: The ravine of Troller’s Gill.
5: The end of the ravine where you cross the river over a small footbridge.
Have you ever tried Komoot? Komoot allows you to access routes planned by others or plan your own which you can then download to your phone to follow while you are out. It is free to join and access and you can find the route for this walk here.
- Parking is limited in the closest layby but there is another layby slightly further down New Road and additional parking on the B6265 down from Stump Cross Caverns. This additional parking will increase the length of the route.
- In particularly wet weather or immediately after wet weather, this route will be impassable as it follows the river upstream.
- There are no facilities on this route.
- The abandoned mine should not be accessed without caution; it is not maintained and the passages at the end are flooded. The track down is slippery and rocky and there is a high risk of a trip or fall here.
- Appropriate footwear is needed for this route; waterproof walking boots highly recommended
- The scramble is slippery in places and requires sure footedness and confidence on rough, scrambly terrain.
For additional UK outdoor adventures, wild swimming, hiking routes and more, check my other blog posts here on MY URBAN TRAIL and follow me @Wild_0utdoors on Instagram.