A question about Grey Wife Sike on Ingleborough

Pitlamp

Well-known member
Here's one to exercise your grey matter (no pun intended) whilst we're all grounded during the coronavivus lockdown.

Grey wife Sike (a small stream west of Cote Gill) was artificially channelled in the past, to avoid it sinking in various shakeholes where it meets the Great Scar Limestone at the foot of the Yoredale Series. Presumably this was to provide a water supply further down the hill. But the channel was deliberately curved to take the water to a large blocked shakehole at about SD73257125. (This is clearly shown on the 1:25,000 O.S. map.)

Close to the final quarter of a mile or so of this disused water course is a line of well built shooting butts but no obvious signs of any former building. So why was all the effort made to channel the water to a shakehole? Did there used to be a shooting hut there, of which there's now no remains? Or was the shakehole in question known to drain to a spring further down the hill which supplied one of the farms?

I've always wondered about this one; can anyone shed any light on it?
 

Badlad

Administrator
Staff member
I've wondered about that too.  Was it a failed attempt to channel the water further - even down the hill to the village?
 

Pitlamp

Well-known member
I'm not sure Badlad - if you look on the map (or walk the course of the now dry channel) it's remarkably straight for almost a mile, then suddenly deflects and goes straight to that shakehole.

I bet the late Dr John Farrer would have known the answer, as he was always very "hands on" in running the estate since the 1950s and was a mine of information about things like this. Sadly, he passed away six years ago.
 

grahams

Well-known member
A little further east another sike runs across the western slope of Cote Gill. This can be seen on Google Earth but is not marked on the OS map. I'm not sure but I think this sike either fizzles out or drains to a shakehole. Further east again, Know Gap Sike, which is marked on the OS map, drains to a point near Clapdale Barn.

Perhaps the owners of Newby Cote could answer the question?
 

Pitlamp

Well-known member
Knowe Gap Sike was certainly used to create a water supply as far as Clapdale farm buildings. I believe this system was superseded when the various hydraulic ram pumps were installed in Clapham Beck, in the first half of last Century. It must have been quite an ambitious project at the time and is more substantially constructed than the Grey Wife Sike.

Not sure about that other "sike" - is it actually a track? (Sometimes it's difficult to tell from Google Earth.) This area is local to me and I don't remember coming across a third sike just east of GWS - then again it's not always easy to spot such things when you're there in person.

I think the owner of much of the property at Newby Cote is the Estate.
 

grahams

Well-known member
It's definitely a sike and is in quite good condition. We crossed it from above when descending into the bed of Cote Gill, so didn't follow the sike to it's downstream conclusion.  Although it is a while since I was up there, I don't think that I'm confusing the sike with Grey Wife Sike as this sike traverses the relatively steep upper slopes of Cote Gill. If Boris would let me, I'd like to take another look as you've raised an interesting question. Something else to add to an ever growing to-do list when house arrest ends.
 

Pitlamp

Well-known member
Thanks Graham; that's interesting.

There is an excellent book by David Johnson: "Ingleborough, Landscape and History" (2008, Carnegie Publishing, Lancaster; ISBN 978-1-85936-187-0). It's really good for answering questions like this and a glance at "Grey Wife Sike" in the index lists three pages. None of these sheds any light on this conundrum though.

Anyone got any ideas?
 

Pitlamp

Well-known member
Phil Murphy has kindly been in contact to tell me that the shakehole where Grey Wife Sike ends was named "P1" by the Yorkshire Geological and Polytechnic Society when they did their classic water tracing programme on Ingleborough in the late 19th Century. They also successfully traced it to Moses Well ("S7") in the bottom of the Clapdale valley.

This makes it all the more curious that the course of Grey Wife Sike was clearly deflected so it ended at the P1 shakehole. (I think GWS was dug before the YGPS did their dye test though; perhaps it was just assumed that the P1 sink went elsewhere before the YGPS work?)
 

JJ

Member
I too have often wondered why the sike ended in this shakehole. There is the remnant of an old solidly built building close to the sike at SD 7342 7157, I assume an old shooting hut??

I have pondered the immense amount of work involved in these sikes. Especially the Mill Race Water Cut above Masongill it attempted the capture the water from entering Swinsto, Simpsons, Rowten, Jingling and possibly Yordas - I bet that may have affected the flow in Keld Head! It was dug to supply Bideber Mill south of the A65 at SD 6601 7390 which was a corn mill dating from the 16th century. The cut was apparently still partially maintained as late as 1956.
 

Pitlamp

Well-known member
Yes - that roofless building shows up well on Google Earth. It's a fair way up the hill from the P1 shakehole though, so perhaps not the reason the Sike was deflected to enter P1?
Phil wondered if it was done so it would augment Clapham Beck in drought conditions.

That Kingsdale one really was a major project. They didn't mess about in those days!
 

Chocolate fireguard

Active member
Pitlamp said:
Phil Murphy has kindly been in contact to tell me that the shakehole where Grey Wife Sike ends was named "P1" by the Yorkshire Geological and Polytechnic Society when they did their classic water tracing programme on Ingleborough in the late 19th Century. They also successfully traced it to Moses Well ("S7") in the bottom of the Clapdale valley.

This makes it all the more curious that the course of Grey Wife Sike was clearly deflected so it ended at the P1 shakehole. (I think GWS was dug before the YGPS did their dye test though; perhaps it was just assumed that the P1 sink went elsewhere before the YGPS work?)
Is it possible that the YG&PS dug the diversion?
It would have been a handy source of water for the test.

The  6 inch map of the area https://maps.nls.uk/os/6inch-england-and-wales/ from the late 19/early 20 century shows the original course of the sike passing the shake hole, then the shooting hut (where there is another short diversion) then disappearing some distance south of there.

 
Hello John, just to clarify as to what is the P1 as named by YGPS.  Newby Moss Pot lies between P2a and P2b so isn?t it likely that Newby Moss Pot and P1 are one and the same. It is quite believable that Newby Moss Pot would drain to Moses Well, whereas the shake hole at  SD 7325 7125 is unlikely to drain to Moses Well.
I would suspect that the Sike was cut to drain into the shake hole at  SD 7325 7125 as the diggers would know that the water would quickly appear at the spring line above the Newby Cote buildings and would also avoid digging the Sike across good intake land to the west of Newby Cote.
 

Pitlamp

Well-known member
Good point Chocolate Fireguard - maybe the YGPS did obtain their water that way.

From the Google Earth image it certainly looks like GWS extended along the same trajectory beyond the point where it deviates to go to the P1 shakehole.

Then again, if the YGPS just wanted to nab the water, wouldn't it have been easier to dig their diversion trench perpendicularly, rather than from further up the hillside?

That mapping tool you gave the link to is extremely useful (thanks). I note that on the version which was surveyed in 1893 the downstream end of GWS does go to the P1 shakehole. That was before the YGPS work I think; if so, maybe the YGPS didn't alter the course of GWS after all?

Your post above refers to a shooting hut - is that the one between the 1250 ft & 1300 ft contours (marked on the 1896 published map)? Or is it lower down and nearer to the P1 shakehole?

Robert Scott - you must have been typing at the same time as me! P1 is definitely the shakehole which the present O.S. map shows the downstream end of GWS leading to (at SD73257125). The late 19th C YGPS map shows this clearly, with a drainage line running confidently from it straight to Moses Well. (Incidentally this is almost perfectly parallel with the line of the North Craven Fault, also shown on the same YGPS map.) It's a long way down the fell from the Newby Moss Pot / P2a / P2b group.
 
If it is any use, neither Balderstone (Ingleton Bygone And Present) nor Speight (Craven and NW Yorkshire Highlands) reference Grey Wife Sike but both reference Knowe Gap Sike (Balderstone on a map and Speight in a description of a walk above Newby Cote). The YGPS stuff is the only thing I can find.
 

Chocolate fireguard

Active member
Pitlamp said:
Good point Chocolate Fireguard - maybe the YGPS did obtain their water that way.

From the Google Earth image it certainly looks like GWS extended along the same trajectory beyond the point where it deviates to go to the P1 shakehole.

Then again, if the YGPS just wanted to nab the water, wouldn't it have been easier to dig their diversion trench perpendicularly, rather than from further up the hillside?

That mapping tool you gave the link to is extremely useful (thanks). I note that on the version which was surveyed in 1893 the downstream end of GWS does go to the P1 shakehole. That was before the YGPS work I think; if so, maybe the YGPS didn't alter the course of GWS after all?

Your post above refers to a shooting hut - is that the one between the 1250 ft & 1300 ft contours (marked on the 1896 published map)? Or is it lower down and nearer to the P1 shakehole?

Robert Scott - you must have been typing at the same time as me! P1 is definitely the shakehole which the present O.S. map shows the downstream end of GWS leading to (at SD73257125). The late 19th C YGPS map shows this clearly, with a drainage line running confidently from it straight to Moses Well. (Incidentally this is almost perfectly parallel with the line of the North Craven Fault, also shown on the same YGPS map.) It's a long way down the fell from the Newby Moss Pot / P2a / P2b group.
Sorry, I should have looked more carefully at your OP.
When I found GWS on the old map I just followed it S. from Knoutberry Hole to where it has obviously been diverted into a shakehole.
That shakehole, at SD73787232, is well N of the one you were talking about.
But I now wonder why that diversion was dug.
 

Pitlamp

Well-known member
Curious about this, I used my "exercise once a day" ration (and "no unnecessary driving") today to follow the whole course of Grey Wife Sike. This feedback will come in 2 or 3 posts, so I can add a few pictures. Most of what follows isn't cave-related, so if you're not interested, maybe don't bother reading further!

I started from Knoutberry Hole, where the stream first emerges from the ground at about SD73787296 (see photo). It took a bit of finding as there are various channels in the vicinity. The water dribbles out of the bank with no obvious cave entrance, very much like many other typical Yoredale Series springs. There was a fairly healthy flow, despite Ingleborough now being pretty dry. From here as far down as Newby Moss Pot etc, the Sike appears to be entirely natural.

It looks like the original course of the stream was straight into Newby Moss Pot shakehole and the excavated ditch leaves this natural watercourse a few metres before it slopes off into NMP. 

The artificial ditch then goes past P2a, where there are signs that the water also used to flow into the latter shakehole but not any more (at least not today). The map of Newby Moss area in the present edition of Northern Caves Volume 2 (1991) shows all the water draining into P2a but this doesn't seem to be the present situation; all flow continues in the artificial ditch beyond P2a.

However, about 60 m beyond P2a there is a third large shakehole on the west side of the ditch. All the water was flowing into this large shakehole today, with the continuation of the ditch bone dry.
 

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Pitlamp

Well-known member
Continuing southwards from the group of 3 large shakeholes described in my last post above (Newby Moss Pot etc) I followed the now dry ditch for about a further half a mile or so, to where there's the obvious shooting hut seen easily on Google Earth. Shortly before reaching the shooting hut, a branch of the ditch leaves on the west side; you can see this branch in the picture below (running from behind the building leftwards and upwards slightly in the picture).

The main Grey Wife Sike ditch continues on it's original course generally southwards and the branch ditch heads south westwards. I didn't follow the branch ditch today but, if it maintains this trajectory, it would end up not far above Bleak Bank farm. Robert Scott and I had a useful phone conversation this afternoon and he pointed out that the map shows an obvious line of springs above the "back road" (the original turnpike section between Clapham and Ingleton) but none is near to Bleak Bank. It seems likely the branch channel from the shooting hut may have provided a water supply for this farm. (Next time I bump into the farmer I'll ask if he knows anything about this; I think the farm's been in his family for a long time.)
 

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Pitlamp

Well-known member
Continuing further southwards along Grey Wife Sike, it can be followed all the way down the hill to the P1 shakehole as described in earlier posts in this topic. This picture shows the final part of the Sike where it has deviated south westwards to the shakehole. The two objects in among the reeds at the bottom of this shakehole are sheep feed bags.

However, there may be a further channel continuing from where the more obvious one goes to P1 (i.e. continuing roughly southwards on the east side of the P1 shakehole; this is not shown on the O.S. map. It's very overgrown and I lost it before reaching the wall at the northern end of the fields. It's possible that this was used as a supplementary water supply to the various buildings at Newby Cote. (I say supplementary because there is a substantial spring on a bench in the small quarry immediately to the north of (i.e. above) Newby Cote. (This is the stream which eventually flows through the village of Newby, further down the hill.) But the flow from this spring wasn't especially great today and there are quite a few buildings at Newby Cote, so a supplementary supply from Grey Wife Sike could have been useful in dry conditions.

In the next post I'll add a different view of the P1 shakehole. However, I'm coming round to the view that Grey Wife Sike was used to supply two or more groups of buildings and Chocolate Fireguard's suggestion that the YGPS may have dug the section of ditch leading to the P1 shakehole to enable them to do their test may well be right.
 

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