Not another Rocking Stone? – Hebden Gill

Hebden Gill Rocking Stone

  The village of Hebden is located 1.5 miles to the east of Grassington, in the Yorkshire Dales.

  To the north of the village, Hebden Beck flows along a scenic valley which winds its way down from the hills and higher moorland areas. Part way along the valley, the OS map marks a Rocking Stone perched high up on top of a crag on the east side of the beck. A visit in April 2023 found the large block of stone overhanging the crag, but it was not possible to make it rock.

  In the late 1800’s, Bailey John Harker mentioned the Hebden Rocking Stone in his guide to the area, but even in his day it seems that the stone was not easy to move. Describing the location, he noted that …

“Here everything is in confusion, the rocks being scattered in wildest fashion everywhere in the valley, while away up to the right on the top of the scar, is seen a monstre block, which appears as if the hand of a child might send it crashing into the depths below. This is the Rocking Stone. Its weight is calculated to be 70 tons; but at present it is not so easily moved as formerly. The curious like to climb up to it and examine it; but there are no markings upon it to indicate that it has ever had any Druidical connection.” (Harker, 1890)

Looking south

  An enquiry to the Hebden History website revealed that the stone has not rocked within living memory, and seems to have settled into a fixed position. Looking at the underside of the rock, it does sit on two or three pivot points, but there is also a build up of stone which has flaked off the surface, and this might be ‘chocking’ the stone, preventing it from moving. It may be possible to rake out the debris and clear the pivots, allowing the huge block to rock once again.

Looking north

  Although it was a disappointment to find the Rocking Stone no longer rocked, the walk along Hebden Gill was a nice compensation. The valley is scenic and full of history connected with lead mining in the area, while a little further down stream, Hebden beck flows over Scale Haw Waterfall – well worth a visit. The curiously named Nanny Spout is a spring by the side of the beck nearer the village, which was apparently used as a water supply in the past.

Scale Haw Waterfall

Hebden History website
Harker, B.J. (1890) The Buxton of Yorkshire, being a complete guide for tourists to Grassington.

The Lay of the Land


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