The Chevin

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The Chevin
Viewpoint near the summit of Otley Chevin.
Highest point
Elevation282 m (925 ft)
LocationWharfedale, overlooking Otley, West Yorkshire, England
OS gridSE204442
Topo mapOS Landranger 104, OS Explorer 297

The Chevin is the name given to the ridge on the south side of Wharfedale in Leeds, West Yorkshire, England, overlooking the market town of Otley, and often known as Otley Chevin.

The Chevin overlooking Otley

History and features[edit]

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 has been erected every Easter since 1969.

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 Cefn Cribwr and Cefn Bryn in Glamorgan amongst many others in Wales, and also, it has been argued, The Cheviot in Northumberland, and the Cévennes in France.[1][2]


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,[3] 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.

A megalithic stone boundary on the Chevin below Surprise View.


The Chevin in art[edit]

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."[4]

Otley indie rock band The Chevin take their name from the hill.


  1. ^ Speight, Harry (1900). Upper Wharfedale. p. 27.
  2. ^ Ekwall, Eilert (1960). The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Place-Names (4th ed.). Oxford: Clarendon Press. p. 102. ISBN 0198691033.
  3. ^ "Dales Way Association website". Archived from the original on 14 July 2007. Retrieved 23 September 2007.
  4. ^ Thornbury, Walter (1862). The life of J.M.W.Turner. Oxford: Hurst and Blackett. pp. 87–88. (seen on Google Book Search)

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 53°53′37″N 1°41′28″W / 53.89358°N 1.69107°W / 53.89358; -1.69107