Out & About …

… on the North York Moors, or wherever I happen to be.

Breckon Bank Quarry, Farndale

Farndale, a hidden gem within the North York Moors, is famous for its wild daffodils that draw visitors in droves during spring. I decided to explore the dale’s eastern side, a maze of landslips, secret ponds, and abandoned quarries that took me quite by surprise.

A few less-frequented footpaths wind up the bracken-covered slopes from the valley’s farms. These paths aren’t always straightforward, requiring a degree of flexibility to avoid climbing over precarious dry-stone walls.

Back in the late 1960s, there was a wild plan to flood Farndale by building a dam1North. 2016. ‘A to Z: A Flock of Fs’, The Official Blog for the North York Moors National Park (The official blog for the North York Moors National Park) <https://northyorkmoorsnationalpark.wordpress.com/2016/02/29/a-to-z-a-flock-of-fs/> [accessed 25 August 2023]. The object? To supply drinking water to Hull, a city far removed from the tranquil dale. In the photo above, you can see a cloud’s shadow indicating where the dam might have stood, just north of Church Houses2Green, Matthew. “Shadowlands: A Journey Through Lost Britain. Page 255-294. 2022. Faber & Faber.. This dam would have created a vast reservoir, covering 400 acres, wiping out 20 farms, and holding an impressive 8 million gallons of water. Yet, for some fortunate twist of fate, the idea was eventually ditched.

The swinging sixties was a time of dam fever, with many reservoirs filling up to secure water supplies. Farndale got lucky. But over in North Wales, Capel Celyn wasn’t so fortunate. That village was sacrificed to create a reservoir for Liverpool, tearing apart a community and sparking debates about Welsh independence. In 2005, Liverpool Corporation formally expressed regret for the pain caused decades earlier, acknowledging the heartlessness of their past actions.

In the end, the tale of Farndale is one of delicate balances, where the allure of progress sometimes clashes with the intrinsic value of untouched beauty. The daffodils continue to bloom, the footpaths wind on, and the abandoned quarries hold their secrets. In this reflection on the past, it’s a reminder that the choices society makes now will echo through time, shaping landscapes not only physically but also in the hearts and stories of those who will call these places home.







5 responses to “Breckon Bank Quarry, Farndale”

  1. John avatar

    Errrr……..isn’t that the eastern side??

    1. Fhithich avatar

      Sounds right, thanks.

  2. John avatar

    Did you go down to Crag Pond? As you say it’s an interesting area with multiple small rocky ridges formed by rotational land slips.
    Last time I walked through there a couple red kites were flying from the ridge alongside Crag Pond.

    1. Fhithich avatar

      Overlooked it but didn’t go down to the shore — I’d had enough of the bracken by then.

      1. John avatar

        Ah yes, I can imagine. Back in July I wandered down to Blakey Mines further up the dale traversing from Sledge Shoe, big mistake the place was absolutely infested with bracken making progress painful.

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