Garsdale and Garsdale Head

Grid Ref : SD 746896


Garsdale is not a village, but a narrow spectacular valley which defines the south eastern edge of the Howgill Fells, on the western slopes of the Pennines, between Baugh Fell to the north, and Rise Hill to the south.


The main hamlet, called “The Street” lies on the A684 road, six miles east of Sedbergh, and ten miles west of Hawes. One mile in the centre is roadsigned “Garsdale” and includes “The Street”, with another centre of population at Garsdale Head.


Until 1974, Garsdale was part of the West Riding of Yorkshire. Now, although it still lies within the Yorkshire Dales National Park, it is within the South Lakeland district of Cumbria for local government purposes.


Garsdale Head marks the top end of Garsdale. There is a small railway station here, as the Settle Carlisle Railway passes through Garsdale Head en route from Dent Head and on in to Mallerstang Common.


Garsdale is one of the wildest stations on the Settle-Carlisle, and is the only station on the line incorporating a fully operational signal box.


Originally this station was called Hawes Junction, and there was a six mile line to the Wensleydale town of Hawes. Here the line became the North Eastern line to Northallerton. The Wensleydale Railway Association are actively trying to revive part of this line.



Some of the trackbed still exists and the remains of the cattle dock can still be seen. The engine shed is now gone but the 16 Midland Railway Cottages, now in private hands, remain.


The waiting room of the northbound platform was used for church services, the ladies waiting room contained a library of 150 books, and the stone base of the water tower was used as a village hall. Many of the original railway fittings have been removed, notably the turntable, which has been restored and installed at the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway.


Just north of the station is Dandry Mire Viaduct


Sixteen cottages were built by the Midland Railway Company for its employees soon after the opening of the line in 1876. Another six “Moorcock Cottages” were built in similar Victorian style half a mile away just over the border in Richmondshire, North Yorkshire. Between them, in a similar building style, is Mount Zion Chapel, a Primitive Methodist meeting-place which is still used for special events.


Apart from one other Victorian building, Clough View, all the other buildings in the hamlet are much older, or are renovations of older properties.


The Moorcock Inn, at the junction of the A684 and the B6259 to Kirkby Stephen via Lunds, Mallerstang and Nateby, is the only public house in the 16-mile journey between Sedbergh and Hawes.



The “Coal Road” which joins Garsdale to Dent station is a scenic single-track route suitable for walkers, strong cyclists and any motor vehicle except when there is any snow or ice, when its steep surface becomes treacherous.


Garsdale’s river, the Clough, is mainly shallow and rocky, with occasional pools large enough for swimming, though the water is always cold. It rises on the north-eastern slopes of Baugh Fell and flows through Grisedale as Grisedale Beck until it becomes the river Clough at Garsdale Head.


There are about 150 houses, either derelict or used as second homes. The Anglican Church of St John the Baptist, built in 1861 next to the original mediaeval church, lies six miles from Sedbergh, between “The Street” and Garsdale Hall (which was once an inn but is now used as a farm store). There are also three Methodist chapels – Low Smithy and Garsdale Street, both in regular use, and Hawes Junction which has occasional special events. The only other public building in Garsdale is the village hall which was formerly the primary school.

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