Viewpoint near the summit of Otley Chevin.
|Elevation||282 m (925 ft)|
|Location||Wharfedale, overlooking Otley, West Yorkshire, England|
|Topo map||OS Landranger 104, OS Explorer 197|
History and features
The Chevin is largely covered in attractive old woodland and heathland. It is a part of the Carboniferous Millstone Grit group. A Roman road ran along the top of the Chevin, part of the road that linked Eboracum (York), Calcaria (Tadcaster) and Olicana (Ilkley), perhaps on the same route as the modern road, Yorkgate, or perhaps about 800m to the south.
The highest point of the Chevin, Surprise View, reaches 282 metres (925 ft) at grid reference SE204442. This point offers extensive views of Otley and Wharfedale, and has an adjacent car park. It is the site of a beacon, and a cross is erected at Easter.
The name comes from the Brythonic 'Cefyn', 'Cefn' or 'Cefu' meaning a 'ridge', or 'ridge of high land'. The root name informs other hills, such as The Cheviot in Northumberland, and the Cévennes in France., Cefn Cribwr and Cefn Bryn in Glamorgan amongst many others in Wales.
The chevin has also been voted an area of outstanding natural beauty. As a result buildings in Otley are unable to change their use (e.g., a pub cannot become a house).
Several outcrops of rock are distributed across the upper slopes of the Chevin and are popular for climbing and bouldering. The Chevin also has a number of footpaths and bridlepaths, and is popular with walkers, runners and riders. The Leeds link to the Dales Way crosses it, as does the Ebor Way. There is also an Orienteering course in the forest park, with maps available from the local tourist office. As a recreational area, the Chevin is divided in two by the East Chevin road.
The Chevin in art
The famous painting Snow Storm: Hannibal and His Army Crossing the Alps by J. M. W. Turner which hangs in the Tate Gallery, is reputed to have been inspired by a view of the Chevin with a stormy background sky. Turner used to stay with his friend Walter Fawkes at Farnley Hall on the opposite side of the valley to the Chevin. Recalling a day in the autumn of 1810 Fawkes' son, Hawkesworth, remembered a storm that inspired one of Turner's major paintings:
- "Hawkey! Hawkey! Come here! Come here! Look at this thunder-storm. Isn't it grand? isn't it wonderful? - isn't it sublime?" All this time he was making notes of its form and colour on the back of a letter. I proposed some better drawing-block, but he said it did very well. He was absorbed - he was entranced. There was the storm rolling and sweeping and shafting out its lightning over the Yorkshire hills. Presently the storm passed and he finished. "There Hawkey," said he, "In two years you will see this again, and call it Hannibal Crossing the Alps."
Otley indie rock band The Chevin take their name from the hill.
- Chevin Forest Park, Leeds City Council's website
- The Chevin
- Chevin Forest website
- Chevin Forest Park Local Nature Reserve Management Plan 2007-2016