Dent: The Occupation Road

Above Dent, 6 miles (9 kilometres) Easy to moderate walk. June, sunny with clouds. Solo

TL;DR Lots of rocks, views and sheep. It’s all mine.

“but weeks spent alone have rearranged the floor plan of my mind and I don’t want to talk to anyone”

Neil Ansell, Deep Country

The name is evocative: The Occupation Road, or as it is known to the locals, the Occy. It’s an ancient droving road but was later named for the land enclosure which transformed this and most of the British countryside in the 18th century, when the fields around it ceased being land held in common and became occupied. When they were stolen.

The Occupation Road, also known as Green Lane, runs across the foothills above Dent from Keldishaw to White Shaw Moss, between dry stone walls and with terrific views. It’s well worth the effort and with minimal planning there’s a lovely finish alongside the Dee.

The walk begins for me at Stone Close tea room on the gorgeous cobbles in Dent close to the cottage I rented. It’s early and nothing is open, there’s no one about yet, it’s all mine. And straight up Flinter Gill once again. You can read about this boggart infested netherworld in a previous walk to Great Coum, and it’s a second chance to make a wish at the wishing tree. This time I wish for the thing I always wish for, which of course I can’t tell you. I’m very tempted to go widdershins round the tree this time in the spirit of scientific inquiry, anyone going anticlockwise will apparently have bad luck, but I bottle it. My ma was a witch and messing with the spirits was not something she encouraged, unless they were in a bottle.

The Wishing Tree

The beck tumbles down over the limestone at my side and I find the hike up easier this time around. When I emerge from the trees the clouds are making impressive displays across the blue sky. I can’t understand why everyone isn’t up here, but today as usual it’s just me and the birds.

I clamber up to the viewpoint with its orientation panel. Already some of the peaks marked on it are looking like old friends. And there’s Whernside, still to visit. I’ve become a little obsessed with waiting for the best weather for Whernside, I want it to be perfect. Or i’m just putting it off. I’m definitely putting it off.

But the views up here are spectacular. I hope when you go you can see as far as I could, over to the Howgill fells, across to Aye Gill Pike and Snaizwold Fell. I try to see a toy train but I can’t spot one. I suddenly feel incredibly grateful to be here and wish everyone I love could see it. But I really don’t want to see anyone. “…the currency of language is devalued by overuse.”

You spend an awful lot of time looking at your feet on the Occy. You’d break your neck on it, the rocks are all over the place and the potholes are legion. I make a half hearted attempt to find the geocache when I get to the crossroads but I get distracted by the stream. Recently people have started gold panning in Sedbergh and I’m overtaken by the urge to stick my hands in and take a look. It’s freezing.

I wish i’d brought my gold pans. Just one more reason why I never get anywhere fast. My fingers are numb before I hit the motherlode.

I tear myself away and turn down Nun House Outrake, named for the now abandoned farmhouse, and the way is lined with orchids and foxgloves. It’s blissful. I’m in a sheep jam, the farmers are moving sheep and I stop so I don’t spook them, but also because I love to watch people and dogs moving sheep.

The route turns sharply downhill past their farm and on to Nun House Farm. It’s a lovely looking farmhouse crumbling in on itself and collapsing around the edges. It sits in a meadow so full of insects and I’m imagining the bats that live here too.

I cross the hay field and down to the river. I find a stepping stone bridge across the beck but I’m hungry for lunch now and I’ve left the rest of the day to read, could things be more perfect? Of course I walk across it and back, no matter what the rest of the day holds, there’s always time for that.

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Walk info

This walk is easy to follow with a basic map of the area, or you can follow my GPX route here. For the Ordnance Survey Explorer map which covers Dentdale, you need OL2.

2 responses to “Dent: The Occupation Road”

    1. You would have loved it.


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