Most of the old farmsteads are now in ruins but a few have become permanent houses and others such as Moor Rigg Barn have become self-catering holiday cottages. There is as yet no reliable Internet connection or mobile phone signal in the valley so it is still remote from modern life.
There is much to learn and explore in Grisedale and its surrounds. There are three publications about Grisedale which are no longer in print and therefore very difficult to find: Roger Cockcroft’s (1975), The Dale that Died, John Banks’ (1991), The Silent Stream and the self published Memories of Grisdale and Beyond… (2005), by Annie Atkinson (nee Lund). The latter is now almost impossible to find and I am grateful to the Atkinson family of Wray who donated my copy. Further records of Quaker life can be found in The Quaker registers of Ravenstonedale.
It is always worth looking up Grisedale on the web. Several walking groups have recorded the trails through Grisedale with some pretty good images.
Grisedale is a remote valley at the western edge of the Yorkshire Dales. Its name is likely to derive from the Norse language Gris (pig or boar) Dal (valley). It has only a single track road into it which ends at the head of the valley. What land remains beyond here is often boggy and hard walking but the views are worth the effort. There are hay meadows and hill pasture below the intake walls and footpaths criss-cross the valley.
Grisedale has a long and very special history with links to the Vikings, Romans and Quakers. Wild Boar have great significance in Norse culture and Grisedale may have been one of the last places that wild boar roamed as they were hunted to extinction. It is bounded on the west side by Baugh Fell, Turners Hill to the east and Swarth Fell Pike with the highest peak in the area, Wild Boar Fell behind it to the North with the only road in over peat bogs and the single track road from Garsdale.
The valley became a settlement for Quakers in the late 1600’s where they could avoid persecution. The settlement grew and at one point there may have been up to sixteen farmsteads. Children in the Dale used to have to walk over Turner’s Hill into Lunds for School. Many school days in winter were missed and life was harsh to say the least. Beyond the old packhorse bridge at the far end of the valley near Scale, there is a quiet and secluded burial ground where the graves are unmarked and the only notice is a small sign on a tree.
None of the houses are on mains water or drainage and electricity only arrived in Grisedale in the 60’s. The remoteness and harsh winters slowly forced tenant farmers and families out of the valley to seek work elsewhere.
In 1973, Roger Cockcroft and Granada Television made a series called The Dale that Died, which featured Joe Gibson, a miner from County Durham who dreamt of a better life and who was one of the few remaining farmers in the valley. His grandson still farms Grisedale and, although farm machinery has made work a little easier, it is still a tough life farming the valley.