One hot afternoon we set of in search of the Bartle Trail and six mosaics, made in 2005, dotted on the hillside above West Witton in Wensleydale. Follow the Bartle Trail link for lots more information. There is an official Bartle Trail walk going up Kagram, Green Gate, Nossil End and Stony Gate but having walked that way many times thought we could walk from the lower end of West Witton, the east end, and pick up the trail from there. Plus the added draw for a different route was that we had never walked the footpath which we had decided upon, always a tempting proposition for me. As always, plan your route, take the map, wear appropriate clothing and footwear, always take food and something to drink. All adds to the enjoyment!
Extract from Wikipedia explaining Bartle ‘The village is famous locally for its "Burning of Bartle" ceremony held on the Saturday nearest 24 August, St Bartholomew’s Day. A larger than life effigy of 'Bartle' is paraded around the village, complete with glowing eyes. Bartle stops at various strategic places to recite the doggerel, before finally being burnt at Grassgill End to much merry singing.
The doggerel is: ‘On Penhill Crags he tore his rags; Hunter's Thorn he blew his horn; Capplebank Stee happened a misfortune and brak' his knee; Grisgill Beck he brak' his neck; Wadham's End he couldn't fend; Grassgill End we'll mak' his end. Shout, lads, shout.’ At Grassgill end they burn the Bartle effigy. This celebration has its similarities to Guy Fawkes night. One local folk-story is that Bartle was the sheep-stealing Penhill Giant!’ All sounds a bit gruesome but there appears to be a lot of fun to be had on the night too!
We parked on the large layby to the east of West Witton by the A684 just below the thirty mile an hour signs and walked the few yards west towards Hill House and followed the finger post signing Common Lane via Park Gate just before the driveway to the house. Turn sharp left once in the field. Continue along through the fields to Park Gate driveway, turn right and continue more or less in a straight line south to Common Lane. It’s quite a pull up here so take your time if you need to and enjoy the views as you ascend. Eventually you will come out onto the road, Common Lane on Middleham High Moor, turn right and continue along here to the junction. At the junction cross over the road and take Flint Lane track just to the right of the farmhouse. Keep to the walled track which eventually comes out into open pastureland. Penhill is magnificent to your left. Leave the walled track through a gate then go through the next stile by a gate into more rough pastureland. Turn right and walk to the little copse of trees. Under here you will find the first mosaic!
Now take the stile just here and go back into field you just came out of. Keeping the wall on your left for a way, down past a crag and the next stile will soon be coming into view. Follow the path, it’s quite well defined but refer to your map always if need be, and soon the second mosaic will come into view. As you descend keep on the path and come out onto High Lane above West Witton. Turn right. Just a few yards further on there is a water splash on the bend and a little further a footpath pointing off to the left to take you down through fields to West Witton. Keep going straight down to a grassy track, once here turn right and walk out to the road. Here you will find number three mosaic.
Retrace your steps to where you initially came out onto the track and turn right again to take you to a little wood. Through the wood down uneven steps, then follow the fence, keeping this on your right, to the gate with a stile on your right. The next mosaic should be here but having since asked a friend who lives in West Witton this one and the next have been taken away for repairing. Hopefully they should be back for the next Burning of Bartle at the end of August. Disappointing for us but ever onward, a little way on and number four should be on a fallen log by the stream. Continue through the stiles out onto the road. Turn left. Carefully walk down the road looking to your left and you will soon find number six safely in the wall.
We have stunning cottages in Wensleydale which you'll love to stay in, have a look on our website for ideas and availability or do call me, Nadine, or my daughter Joanne on 01969 663559 for friendly help and advice.
Written By Nadine Bell