Looking for source material on the drove-road between Barnard Castle and Tan Hill

Mud Beck looking downstream in the area around Scabba Wath.

Mud Beck looking downstream in the area around Scabba Wath.

Having been intrigued by the unusual place-name Scabba Wath that marks a ford across the River Swale in upper Swaledale, I was excited while browsing the OS map to spot another Scabba Wath, marked as a crossing of Mud Beck in an area of remote moorland at the head of Arkengarthdale. It was named on all the OS maps of the area dating back to the first, published in 1856.

Curiously no OS map has ever marked a track crossing Mud Beck at Scabba Wath. It appears as a crossing from nowhere to nowhere. Helpfully, Arthur Raistrick’s book Green tracks on the Pennines (Clapham, 1962) later republished as Green roads in the mid-Pennines (Ashbourne, 1978) mentioned a crossing on Mud Beck as a point on an ancient drove-road between Barnard Castle and Tan Hill. But he didn’t give the crossing a name.

In two recent visits to this wild and empty landscape I found no sign of the track described by Raistrick and no sign of the ford named on the maps. Unfortunately Arthur Raistrick didn’t quote any sources for his knowledge of the drove-road between Barnard Castle and Tan Hill. Does anyone know where earlier sources might be found?

More information on this mysterious place-name is here – Scabba Wath in Arkengarthdale, and here – Scabba Wath in Swaledale.


About Will Swales

Amateur historian with a special interest in Swaledale, Yorkshire.
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5 Responses to Looking for source material on the drove-road between Barnard Castle and Tan Hill

  1. simonjkyte says:

    have been looking at it on the map – how weird and yet a google search only ever reveals the other one


  2. blairsou says:


    A fascinating post. I don’t know if you have access to a Bartholomew’s map for this area. I was in contact with their archivist about three years ago when I found part of the Kent-Sussex coast labelled Southerdens. I knew that the family farmed on Romney Marsh which was on the hinterland but I had never heard of any place other than a manor, some twenty miles inland. The archivist explained that in the early C20 the company tried to differentiate itself from OS by providing additional information for cyclists and walkers. She was quick to respond and very helpful. Perhaps if you find this location on one of their maps you may use that as a vehicle for a query? Or maybe OS has an archivist that may help?

    Best regards



    Liked by 1 person

    • Will Swales says:

      Thanks Blair. I hadn’t considered Bartholomew maps, but tracked them down easily here http://maps.nls.uk/geo/find/#zoom=6&lat=56.7114&lon=-4.9000&layers=34&b=1&point=0,0. The same wonderful web site has a great collection of old OS maps as well. The Bartholomew ones are lovely to look at, and actually very handy for place-name studies when you want to filter out the tiny places and focus on the principal ones. I’ll be looking at these again. There are some northern OS archives at Leeds University Library. One day I will get there – although I might need a couple of months to sift through it all I suspect.


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