YorkshireNet guide to Littondale

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Littondale has retained its has peace and tranquility, with the world rushing past the end of the Dale on the Skipton-Kettlewell road. Littondale is rich in Bronze Age and Iron Age settlements, and has been a sheltered fertile valley for 5,000 years or more. Saxon 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.

Littondale comprises the three main settlements of Arncliffe, Litton, and Halton Gill, and yeoman’s houses dating from the 17th century are to be seen throughout the Dale.

Arncliffe, the capital of the Dale, is now a conservation area, and is centred around its village green. The derivation of Arncliffe is from ‘eagle cliffe’, so it is likely that predatory birds once inhabited the limestone scars near the village. The church was built in the 16th and 18th centuries to replace the stone 11th century building, which probably superseded a wooden Saxon church.

Charles Kingsley drew his inspiration for ‘The Water Babies’ from Arncliffe, and more recently the TV series ‘Emmerdale’ was originally set in Arncliffe (its name comes from ‘Amerdale’, the older name for Littondale).

Litton is a picturesque community of solid thick walled houses, many from the 17th and early 18th centuries. Litton was notorious in the 18th century for its cockpit, situated between the village and the River Skirfare, where cock fighting and badger baiting took place.

Halton Gill, up the dale, is a smaller hamlet containing several fine old buildings, with the road from it leading over Fountains Fell past the exposed peak of Pen-y-Ghent. Halton Gill provided the ideal film set for Jamie Oliver and Sainsbury's to film their 2010 Christmas adverts. More recently 'Woman in Black', starring Daniel Radcliffe set their Crythin Gifford village scenes at Halton Gill.

Littondale scenery Arncliffe Church in winter