The Devil’s Apronful cairn consists of a loose heap of gritstone rocks and boulders over 10 metres in diameter and up to 1 and a half metres high. It is thought to be Bronze Age in origin, similar in date to structures like the Skirtful of Stones on Ilkley Moor and the Apron Full of Stones in Kingsdale near Ingleton. It lies towards the southern end of a natural elevated terrace and appears to be deliberately sited on top of an intricately weathered Millstone Grit outcrop. Like Old Man Pike on Beamsley Beacon several natural boulders are incorporated into the structure of the cairn. Its siting is spectacular and gives a stunning view of the River Wharfe running north, with the prominent knoll of Elbolton Hill in centre view. That this distinctive hill may have had a special significance for prehistoric people is suggested by the extraordinary sequence of Neolithic and Bronze Age burials to come out of Elbolton Cave, the entrance of which is intervisible with this cairn.
Devil’s Apronful cairn MYD4313 (c) YDNPA 2023
The Devil’s Apronful is now much disturbed and there is a deep hole in the centre. This is most likely to have happened in the late nineteenth century when barrows and cairns digging was a leisure pursuit of some of the aristocracy and gentry. The moor here also became a popular destination with tourists. A summer house was built near Simon’s Seat and people came to admire the fantastic shapes of the rocks and weathered outcrops in the area, many of which had names. Subsequently the cairn appears to have been used as a grouse butt, and latterly as a walker’s shelter. The cairn is now a Scheduled Monument, and protected by law. It is an offence to disturb the site.
View from Devil’s Apronful cairn MYD4313 (c) YDNPA 2023
Harry Speight 1900 Upper Wharfedale London Elliot Stock, 363
Location From farm track accessing How Gill Farm, take the track through the gate on the right hand side of How Gill stream, where there is a noticeboard providing information about Barden Moor and Barden Fell. Follow the track up the hillside to open moorland. Once there keep to the track which proceeds north-east towards Simon’s Seat for 700m and then turn uphill across the moorland for 200m. The cairn is situated on the edge of a natural ridge which makes a false horizon for anyone approaching from below, 200 metres south of Truckle Crags. For further details on Access Land see the Countryside Access website www.openaccess.gov.uk. Select OS grid reference on the home page and type in the grid reference listed above. This will give you a printable map of the area, as well as details concerning access. Public rights of way are unaffected by changes in access status.
Public Transport Details Nearest town/village: Appletreewick. Call Traveline on 0870 608 2 608 to plan your journey. After the welcome message key in 885 for North Yorkshire information.
Accessibility The climb is very steep up a well made track, the last stretch being through rough moorland which can be boggy in places. The lower part of the track is a permissive footpath, and dogs are not allowed. The moorland itself is Access Land.