The early history of Rocking Hall is obscure, but it is thought to have been built as a shooting hut in the mid 18th centaury, on land leased from the Dutchy of Lancaster. However, an undated but early sketch depicts only the central part of the hut as a short squat tower. This might suggest it had origins in the early 18th centaury as a watch tower or a folly/summer house for those visiting the rocking stone. It was later converted into the existing shooting hut, probably in 1758-59. The house to the rear of the shooting hut may have been built earlier and was probably used for stabling and accommodation for both shooters and estate workers.
“Roggan” is a common local name for a rocking stone. This is a natural geological feature, glacial action placing one stone on top of the other and appeared on a map in 1854 detailing both of the buildings and the rocking stone.
Rocking Hall takes its name from a large ‘rocking stone’ that lies between the two buildings. It is a substantial stone-built structure and features separate rooms for the shooters and beaters. Rocking Hall is still used today and is part of the Bolton Abbey Estate and lies in a remote position on Rocking Moor, between the Washburn Valley and Wharefedale in the Yorkshire Dales in northern England. It has been visited by many distinguished guests, including King George V in1911.
As these are the only buildings for miles around, the location of Rocking Hall is very atmospheric with an isolated feel and is well worth the effort of the steep hike up to it.
There are numerous ways to walk to Rocking Hall, but Fran and I choose a route less travelled. Just off of the A59 Harrogate to Skipton Road is a place called Hazelwood, with a tiny lane called lane side with limited parking space to park a car. We followed a steep track towards Witchy, passing Boggy Ghill on our left. Prior to Intake and the grouse buts the track we were walking on meets a track coming up from Storiths on the left (another potential parking and starting point)
The Intake, is a large walled area containing ideal grazing areas for sheep and provides a stark contrast from the vast moorland that stretches out in all directions as you feel like you are walking further up into the sky. Approaching Pickles Gill Beck, there is a small ford which makes for an ideal lunch stop, before the steeper accent up Cowmes Hill where another path joins from the left. As we walked past Long ridge on our right, we kept to the right when the path split into two, taking us towards Gledstones on our left and Toffit Ing Head in front of us to our right. Here the path starts to plateau prior to any sign of the buildings at Rocking Hall and the final climb as the path steepens again with Rocking Moor and Rocking Hall finally coming into sight.