Outside Meeting at Surgill

In June we had a summer outside meeting. This was in Surgill, a beautiful hidden dale in the north of the parish, bordering on Lothersdale. In fact the border of the two parishes goes down Surgill Beck. After standing above Surgill and taking in the long distance dales views, on a beautiful early June evening, we heard about the ancient farmsteads in and around Surgill. We were told about its early settlement, how it was used in ancient times to hide cattle from raiders. Evidence of smelting iron has been found, plus quarrying. But of course its mainstay has always been farming. We were told of whole stone walls being sold to provide stone for Skipton bypass and a tractor being driven over the edge and down the near vertical Sweet Brow. Strenuous efforts to improve the good farmland in Surgill Bottom and the many trees planted in Surgill’s actual gill, by the beck, make this a haven for flora and fauna as well as sheep. In 1997 the now defunct Cross Hills Naturalists’ Society recorded 150 different plant species in Surgill. There is a public footpath through the dale but this is not access land, so the footpath must be kept to, to protect farmland, stock and the many diverse habitats.