Skeeby Beck
  • Gilling Beck
  • Dalton Beck
a small river looking downstream. A wood is on the left bank, and fields on the right
Gilling Beck
Relief map of North Yorkshire
Relief map of North Yorkshire
CountyNorth Yorkshire
Physical characteristics
 • locationSilver Hill
 • coordinates54°28′30″N 1°51′40″W / 54.475°N 1.861°W / 54.475; -1.861
 • elevation284 metres (932 ft)
MouthRiver Swale
 • location
 • coordinates
54°23′35″N 1°40′26″W / 54.393°N 1.674°W / 54.393; -1.674
 • elevation
71 metres (233 ft)
Length45 kilometres (28 mi)
Basin size80 square kilometres (31 sq mi)
Basin features
River systemHumber
EA waterbody IDGB104027069180

Skeeby Beck is a small river flowing through Gilling West and Skeeby, near to Richmond, in North Yorkshire, England. Skeeby Beck drains the moorland to the north of Richmond and south of the A66 road, and flows in a south-easterly direction until it runs into the River Swale at Brompton-on-Swale. The Environment Agency designate the beck as a one river, even though it has four names along its length. Artificial modification of the beck to enable draining of surrounding fields has straightened the channel in its lower courses, and the bricking up of at least one arch on Gilling Bridge is thought exacerbate flooding when the area is subjected to high rainfall.


The main stem begins at Silver Hill, west of Newsham at an elevation of 284 metres (932 ft).[1] The course the beck takes from its source down to the Swale was originally the main stem from the River Tees into the Swale before it was diverted towards the end of the Ice Age. The route of the original river (known as either the Proto-Swale or Proto-Tees) was through a hill which now reaches to 443 feet (135 m), and on its southern flank, is drained by Holme Beck.[2]

In antiquity, the course of the beck between Gilling and the rivermouth at Brompton-on-Swale was the dividing line between Gilling West and Gilling East wapentakes.[3]

Skeeby Bridge, a grade II listed structure which carries the A6108 road, straddles Skeeby Beck to the east of the village of Skeeby.[4] The bridge has four unevenly-spaced arches, with the northernmost being almost sunk completely into the ground.[5] In 1973, an armoured vehicle belonging to the British Army, crashed through a parapet in the bridge, and entered the beck. The vehicle could not be driven out, neither could it be craned back onto the bridge, but the local landowner refused access to the army to retrieve it. The army had to go to the High Court to effect an order for the recovery of the Saladin, which was at risk because of water damage and the danger of its secretive equipment "falling into the wrong hands".[6] In 1976, a stone carved with an Anglian Cross and a hogback tombstone were discovered in the beck at Gilling, evidence of early Christianity in the area,being dated to the 9th century; all other sculptures found in the vicinity relate to a later Anglo-Scandinavian period.[7][8]

The Environment Agency designate the beck as a river.[9]


The beck flows for some 28 miles (45 km) draining the moorland above Richmond, and has many tributaries. It is assessed as one river by the Environment Agency, but its name changes in reflection of the area it is passing through, starting off as Dalton Beck, then Holme Beck, Gilling Beck, and finally, Skeeby Beck.[9] Where it enters the Swale at Brompton-on-Swale, it was known historically as the Gilling and Skeeby Beck.[10]


The beck flooded in 2007, causing homes to be evacuated in Gilling West and Skeeby, and the closure of Skeeby Bridge on the A6108.[11][12] The beck is designated as not being "heavily modified", and with a moderate rating in terms of its ecological status in 2019. It had been previously rated as good in 2015, however since then, the presence of a habitat for fish was included, and so it was downgraded due to agricultural runoff.[13]

However, the Department for Transport have recognised that the entire network of becks and streams which make up Skeeby Beck have the potential to be affected by the future upgrade of the A66 road to dual carriageway between Stephen Bank and Carkin Moor.[14]

Land to the east of Skeeby Bridge, where the river meanders, is known to be a floodplain.[15] The beck further upstream has been modified to be straighter for agricultural purposes, and this has caused flooding around the bridge at Gilling West.[16]

Flora and fauna

Historically, the beck has been noted for the presence of native white-clawed crayfish (austropotamobius pallipes).[17] Otters were noted on the beck in the 19th century, around the Skeeby Bridge area. The land was owned by the Earl of Zetland, who had the hunting rights for the animal.[18] Whilst fish have been observed in the beck, a concrete ford between Gilling West and Skeeby is a barrier to fish passage. A bridge exists at the same location, so the ford has been cited as able to be removed, thereby improving migratory fish patterns.[19]

Pollution incident

In April 2023, a suspected slurry leak caused an extensive fish kill on the beck near Hutton Magna.[20]


Hartforth Bridge over Hartforth Beck

Several structures over the watercourse are listed buildings. From north to south (all are grade II listed):

See also


  1. ^ "304" (Map). Darlington & Richmond. 1:25,000. Explorer. Ordnance Survey. 2015. ISBN 978-0-319-24556-9.
  2. ^ Evans, Dinnage & Roberts 2018, p. 99.
  3. ^ Whitaker, Thomas Dunham (1823). An history of Richmondshire, in the North riding of the county of York : together with those parts of the Everwicschire of Domesday which form the wapentakes of Lonsdale, Ewecross, and Westmoreland. London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Browne, Hurst, Robinson, and Co. p. 231.
  4. ^ a b Historic England. "Skeeby Bridge (Grade II) (1131550)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 7 February 2023.
  5. ^ Hatcher 1990, p. 221.
  6. ^ Rees-Mogg, William (17 March 1973). "Farmer told to hand over armoured car". The Times. No. 58734. p. 2. ISSN 0140-0460.
  7. ^ Hatcher 1990, p. 95.
  8. ^ Lang, James T; Morris, Christopher D (2008). "Recent finds of pre-Norman sculpture from Gilling West, N Yorkshire". Medieval Archaeology. 22: 130. doi:10.5284/1071621.
  9. ^ a b "Skeeby/Holme/Dalton Bk from Source to River Swale | Catchment Data Explorer | Catchment Data Explorer". Retrieved 8 February 2023.
  10. ^ Bogg, Edmund (1908). Richmondshire : an account of its history and antiquities, characters and customs, legendary lore, and natural history. Leeds: James Miles. p. 87. OCLC 9860047.
  11. ^ "Villages evacuated by new floods". BBC News. 20 July 2007. Retrieved 6 February 2023.
  12. ^ Nugent, Helen (20 July 2007). "Downpours launch holiday season". The Times. No. 69069. p. 5. ISSN 0140-0460.
  13. ^ Grey 2021, p. 3.
  14. ^ "A66 Northern Trans-Pennine Project TR010062 3.4 Environmental Statement Appendix 14.1 WFD Compliance Assessment" (PDF). June 2022. p. 63. Retrieved 14 March 2023.
  15. ^ "Richmondshire Biodiversity Action Plan" (PDF). p. 38. Retrieved 10 February 2023.
  16. ^ Grey 2021, p. 1.
  17. ^ Howes, C. A. "A historical gazeteer of white-clawd crayfish in Watsonian Yorkshire" (doc.). p. 5. Retrieved 6 February 2023.
  18. ^ "North country news - otter hunting". The Northern Echo. No. 5813. Column B. 10 October 1888. p. 3. ISSN 2043-0442.
  19. ^ Grey 2021, p. 28.
  20. ^ "Hundreds of fish die in North Yorkshire beck prompting Environment Agency investigation". Yorkshire Post. 15 April 2023. Retrieved 15 April 2023.
  21. ^ Historic England. "Dalton Mill (Grade II) (1318357)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 10 February 2023.
  22. ^ Historic England. "Bridge over Holme Beck Approximately 120 Metres North-West of Mill Farmhouse (Grade II) (1166547)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 9 February 2023.
  23. ^ Historic England. "Holme Bridge over Holme Beck (Grade II) (1318394)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 9 February 2023.
  24. ^ Historic England. "Whashton Bridge over Hartforth Beck (Grade II) (1131899)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 9 February 2023.
  25. ^ Historic England. "Bridge over Hartforth Beck (Grade II) (1131931)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 9 February 2023.
  26. ^ Hatcher 1990, p. 102.
  27. ^ Historic England. "Gilling Bridge over Gilling Beck (Grade II) (1316940)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 9 February 2023.
  28. ^ Grey 2021, p. 19.
  29. ^ Jervoise, E. (1931). The ancient bridges of the North of England. Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings. p. 86. OCLC 1112787206.
  30. ^ Historic England. "Brompton Bridge (Grade II) (1131590)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 9 February 2023.
  31. ^ "Parishes: Easby | British History Online". Retrieved 14 March 2023.