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Littondale is a dale in the Craven district of the non-metropolitan county of North Yorkshire, England. It comprises the main settlements of Hawkswick, Arncliffe, Litton, Foxup and Halton Gill, and farmhouses that date from the 17th century. The main waterway in the dale is the River Skirfare which is fed by many small gills and becks.


Littondale is a side dale to the west of Wharfedale and follows the River Skirfare. The nature of the dale and its characteristic smooth form was the result of many ice ages, especially the one 20,000 years ago. As the glacier for that age receded it left retreat moraine, an example of which can be found at Skirfare Bridge. Like neighbouring Wharfedale, Littondale comprises mainly Great Scar Limestone and Yoredale rock. The dale has a number of shake holes and sink-holes that lead to underground cave systems such as at Boreham Cave.[1] At the head of the dale is Pen-y-ghent, one of the Yorkshire Three Peaks.


Littondale is rich in Bronze Age and Iron Age settlements, and has been a sheltered fertile valley for 5,000 years or more. Anglian cultivation terraces (lynchets) can be seen in the valley. After the Conquest, the Normans turned it into a hunting chase before the land was granted to the monks of Fountains Abbey in the 13th century, and became extensively used for sheep farming.[1]


Hawkswick is the first settlement reached travelling from the B6160. The name is derived from the Middle English Hauk meaning someone who trained Hawks and wick, meaning dairy farm.[2][3]

Arncliffe is the second, and largest, settlement reached travelling from the B6160, lies at the confluence of Cowside Beck and the River Skirfare. The name derives from the Old English, earna-clif, meaning eagles cliff.[4] It is now a conservation area and is centred on its village green and has one public house. The church was built in the 16th and 18th centuries to replace the stone 11th century building, which probably superseded a wooden Anglo-Saxon church.

Litton is the third settlement reached travelling from the B6160. The name has the meaning village on a roaring stream.[5]

Halton Gill is the fourth settlement reached travelling from the B6160. The name is derived from the Anglo-Saxon haugh meaning Valley and tun meaning farm. Gill is a derivation of the Olde Norse 'gil', meaning ravine, therefore the whole name means valley farm by the ravine.[6][7]

Foxup is the last settlement reached travelling from the B6160. The name means upstream with the foxes.[8]


Littondale lies entirely within the Craven District Council Ward of Upper Wharfedale and as of 2011 is represented by John Roberts of the local Conservative Party.[9]



  1. ^ a b "Littondale Information" (PDF). Retrieved 15 October 2011. 
  2. ^ "Hawswick etymology". Retrieved 15 October 2011. 
  3. ^ "Etymology". Retrieved 15 October 2011. 
  4. ^ "Arncliffe etymology". Retrieved 15 October 2011. 
  5. ^ "Litton etymology". Retrieved 15 October 2011. 
  6. ^ "Halton Gill Etrymology". Retrieved 15 October 2011. 
  7. ^ "Etymology". Retrieved 15 October 2011. 
  8. ^ "Foxup etymology". Retrieved 15 October 2011. 
  9. ^ "Governance". Retrieved 15 October 2011. 

External links[edit]

Media related to Littondale at Wikimedia Commons