My photo walk this week takes us to the giant outcrop of millstone grit known as Almscliffe Crag. This magnificent feature stands atop a small hill near the village of North Rigton, between Leeds and Harrogate.
Offering dramatic views from the top, Almscliffe is a magnet for rock climbers and walkers alike. Some of the first rock climbs ever recorded in Britain were pioneered here in the 1870’s, and the crag featured in John Laycock’s 1913 rock-climbing guide ”Some Grit-stone Climbs”. Graffiti, in the form of names, initials and dates, can still be clearly seen carved into the rock.
Typically, with any structure as large and ancient as this, there is a lot of folklore attached to it. Some people believe that the rocks were a sacred place, and used in Druidical rites and ceremonies. The name Almscliffe was first recorded in the 13th century, in the form Almusclyve which is thought to derive from a female personal name Almus. However, another theory links the name to the Celtic al “fire” and mias “altar”. How much truth is in these theories, we’ll never know, but it certainly adds more than a little mystique to the place.
As seen on TV
Die-hard TV fans may recognise Almscliffe from it’s various television appearances over the years. Fans of Emmerdale may remember it from the opening titles, on which it featured between 1998 and 2005. Fans of the sci-fi series Blake’s 7 would have seen it portrayed as an alien planet and, in the 1980’s it featured in the Beiderbecke Trilogy.
Bring a picnic
The huge, flat-topped rocks on top of the crag make a great picnic spot, although it can get a little windy! However, the grandstand views of the beautiful surrounding farmland makes a touch of windburn a small price to pay.
Watch your footing
If you fancy a short but stunning walk, then Almscliffe Crag is a safe bet. It’s not an easy walk as the ground is very uneven in places. Also, you need to keep your wits about you if you are climbing across the rocks at the top. It is easily accessible though, and there is plenty of parking space on the lane below the crag. Bare in mind that on a fine day parking spaces can quickly fill up as this is a very popular spot!