A Founder of British Geology and The Terrible Knitters of Dent

Leeds Station sign

“Sat 22 Mar – Dentdale Explorer – 7mi Moderate

Dent Station – Cowgill – Dales Way – Whernside Manor – Deepdale – Coventree – Dent Village. Alight (12.12) and return Dent. Connects with 10.49 train from Leeds. (JD/DW) Please ring to book your place on the return minibus from Dent Village to Dent Station. [About 5 miles]“

Ribblehead Station

That was the description of the guided walk organised by the Friends of the Settle-Carlisle Line on Saturday. Leaving Leeds in bright sunshine and with a cloudless blue sky we arrived at Dent Station to a rain shower closely followed by a hail storm which turned into blinding snow. By the time we (five of us) reached Cowgill and the Dee valley bottom all weathers had cleared temporarily but we were beset by rain showers (some heavy) and cold winds for most of the walk.

Cowgill signpost

Signpost at Cowgill – formerly in the West Riding of Yorkshire and complete with OS Grid Reference

Much of our route followed the Dales Way long distance path that crosses the country from Ilkley in West Yorkshire to Bowness on the shores of Lake Windermere. I’m familiar with and have walked most of  it between Ilkley and Yockenthwaite so it was interesting to fill in a section with which I was not familiar. As we left Cowgill we were able to pick out across the river the 150 year old church of St John, Cowgill. My Dales Way Companion by Paul Hannon tells me that “Outside are the unmarked graves  of smallpox victims from railway construction days.”

Cowgill Church

Cowgill Church

With variations in the weather tracks took us across fields, through former pinewoods, along quiet country lanes past waterfalls at full spate, ancient farm buildings and a deserted chapel.

View from lunch spot

View from our lunch spot

Former pine woods now cleared

Former Pine Woods now cleared

Waterfalls

Chapel

The deserted chapel near Whernside Manor

Ancient building

Ancient Farm Building

Arriving Dent

First View of Dent

Finally and quite suddenly we arrived at the quiet backwater village of Dent. At some point we must have crossed the border between North Yorkshire and Cumbria for, although within the boundary of The Yorkshire Dales National Park, Dent is in the South Lakeland district of Cumbria. On Saturday afternoon the village was very quiet. The cobbled streets were practically deserted. We had about an hour to explore before catching the bus back up the valley to the rather mis-named Dent station nearly 5 miles away.

Dent Village

The Main Streets in Dent

Our leader Duncan first explained some of the history of Dent. One notable son was Adam Sedgwick one of the founders of British Geology. Sedgwick was born in Dent in 1785 the son of the local vicar.

Sedgwick Birthplace

The Old Vicarage – Adam Sedgwick’s Birthplace

Memorial stone

Granite Memorial to Adam Sedgwick in Dent Main Street

He was educated at nearby Sedbergh School and went up to Cambridge University where he became a Fellow in 1810 and by 1818 he was Woodwardian Professor of Geology. Read more about Sedgwick and his geological studies here. The Cambridge University Earth Sciences Museum is called The Sedgwick Museum.

We then learnt about the Terrible Knitters of Dent and the unusual knitting method they employed. The last of the knitters, Elizabeth Hartley and Elizabeth Middleton died in 2007 aged 93 and 91 years respectively.

3 storey house

Typical 3-storey house in Dent

There are two pubs and two tea shops in Dent but before heading for one of the cosy tea shops we had a look round the church.

The church of St. Andrew is a Norman foundation, though largely rebuilt in 1417 and restored in 1590. The top storey of the 1614 three-decker Jacobean pulpit is still in use. The chancel is paved with fossil-rich marble, quarried in Dentdale. The box pews were removed in 1889, much of the wood being used to panel the walls of village cottages. On the south side of the aisle are the famous pews of the 24 sidesmen. Originally yeomen farmers, today landowners of Dent, they have shared with the Bishop (now of Bradford) the patronage of the living since 1429.” [Source]

Pulpit

The Remainder of the Jacobean Pulpit

Marble Floor

Fossil-Rich Marble floor

The Western Dales Bus left Dent promptly at 17.05 and brought us back along the valley to Dent Station comfortably in time to catch the 17.32 train back to Leeds where I noted it had also been raining.

Self Catering at Dent Station

You can stay at Dent Railway Station!

Come and Stay

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12 comments on “A Founder of British Geology and The Terrible Knitters of Dent

  1. nilly says:

    I love the story about the Terrible Knitters! I’m not sure if they still exist but until recently there was a small company in Dent called Sophie’s Wild Woollens which produced beautiful tops, hand-knitted locally – I’m not sure if the Terrible Two were part of the team. They were expensive so I was thrilled to find one of their jackets in my local Oxfam shop a couple of years ago.

  2. Fran says:

    Seeing all your photos of hills and rushing streams brings back many memories of childhood holidays spent in the Lake DIstrict. I must have passed through Dent station at times as my father was a passionate railway traveller.

    • Dent is the highest station in England so I imagine any passionate railway traveller worth his salt would have passed through it at one time or another – and be amazed that you can now take a holiday in the station building and the Snowhut themselves.

  3. Tuba says:

    Was their knitting really bad then?

  4. What a magical place Barbara…and the Terrible Knitters…I have to know more!

  5. Red Hen says:

    Thank you for the links to that information on the Terrible Knitters. My goodness, what craftsmanship.
    Those cobbled streets look pretty amazing too and wonderfully crafted too.

  6. ms6282 says:

    Was Ivan a Terrible knitter?

  7. […] at Dent Station it is possible to stay at Kirkby Stephen Station and you have a choice of accommodations […]

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