Guide to Littondale

Littondale is formed around the valley of the River Skirfare, which joins the River Wharfe near Kilnsey. It has retained its peace and tranquillity, with little through traffic.

A sheltered, fertile valley, Littondale has been settled for over 5,000 years and is rich in Bronze and Iron Age remains. Lynchets, cultivation terraces on the northern hillside, date back to Saxon times. The Norman conquerors used the area for hunting before granting it to the monks of Fountains Abbey for sheep farming - still a major use of the land.

Villages of Littondale

With a name derived from the Norse for ‘eagles cliff’, Arncliffe is the ancient capital of the Dale, with one of the few village greens in the Dales. Its church was built in the 16th and 18th centuries to replace the 11th century building, itself probably a replacement for a wooden Saxon church. The village is now a Conservation Area, and the local pub, the Falcon, still uses the traditional beer to jug, jug to glass, method of serving ale.

Arncliffe has become known as the original setting for the TV series ‘Emmerdale’ (its name thought to come from ‘Amerdale’, the ancient name for Littondale). Charles Kingsley drew his inspiration for the ‘Water Babies’ from his stay in Arncliffe.

Further up the Dale, the village of Litton dates from the 17th and early 18th centuries, and was notorious for its cockpit, where cock fighting and badger baiting took place.

At the head of the Dale is Halton Gill, a hamlet with some fine old buildings. From here a road leads to Foxup and the isolated buildings at Cosh. Another road climbs Fountain Fell past the high peak of Pen-y-Ghent towards Settle.

Littondale scenery Arncliffe Church in winter
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