Kirkdale valley is the lower-end continuation of Bransdale, Rudland Rigg and Sleightholmedale as is the river, Hodge Beck. Unlike the afore mentioned upper valleys it doesn't have any roads running within the base of the valley and is only fully accessible by foot. Furthermore it contains only one property, called Hold Cauldron, and a church, called St Gregory's Minster, both of which are accessed by road from different points.
Hold Cauldron is an early 19th century, now grade 2 listed, mill house although there is evidence that a mill has stood on the site from at least 1704. Hold Cauldron has got a real charm about it and has been superbly restored in to a private residence. The main access to Hold Cauldron is to drive down the side of Kirkdale valley from Skiplam. Standing on the bridge that crosses the river, just outside the mill, it's possible to see the old water diversion channels, called the mill race, that would have directed the water to the mill wheel. I believe the mill wheel still exists but it's badly worn and unfortunately you can't clearly see it. The mill buildings still contain all the milling machinery although, because it's now a private building, you would not be able to see that either.
After Hold Cauldron and heading down Kirkdale valley the river gradually appears to dry up to a point where, unless it's been raining, it becomes just a dry river bed. It's ass if the water has just magically disappeared. This happens because the water flows under ground and only returns back to the surface near Welburn Hall after Kirkdale valley. That said when it's been raining the subterranean channel cannot take the volume of water and the river begins to flow once more, sometimes quite violently if it's been heavy, prolonged rain.
Towards the bottom of Kirkdale valley is St Gregory's Minister. This is an idyllic medieval church complete with a fairly large graveyard. St Gregory's Minister is most famous for it's Anglo-saxon sundial dating back to around 1055. This is located just above the doorway in the inner porch. It's fairly large measuring 8 feet long by almost 2 feet high. It consists of 3 panels, the centre one of which is the sundial. The other left and right panels are inscribed with writing translations of which can be found on Wikipedia.
Heading up out of the church yard and turning left will bring you to Kirkdale Ford. This is where Hodge Beck runs across the road. Most of the time it's dry but care must be taken after heavy rain. Take note of the water depth gauge before driving across. Furthermore it's always deeper at the church-side of the river and because the depth gauge is in the middle it may actually be slightly deeper than the gauge reads. For walkers and cyclists there is a foot bridge to hand should it be required.
Just over the river and slightly off the road is an old quarry, called Kirkdale Quarry. If you walk in to the quarry and look up on the side of the rock face you can see two caves, called Kirkdale Caves. It is thought the the caves were originally formed by under ground streams hundreds of thousands of years ago. The caves were discovered by workmen in 1821 and they were found to contain bones of animals not currently native to England although the workmen didn't actually realise that at the time of discovery. These bones included rhinoceroses, bison, giant deer, hippopotamus, elephants, zebra, antelopes, other small mammals and birds and the remains of numerous cave hyenas. As far as I know this is the northernmost site where such remains have been found. In pre-historic times the caves are thought to have been a hyenas den and the bones are the remains of their scavenging having been dragged in to the caves by the hyenas. It also goes to prove that in the way distant past Yorkshire had a very different climate.
Kirkdale Quarry And Entrance To Caves
The Font at St Gregory's Minister