A small barn stands beside a lonely Dales road, with the weather closing in and the daunting prospect of a bleak winter ahead. This was last week in Arkengarthdale and it was misty and very cold, but imagine what life was like here in the mid 1800s. The building was there; the track, although not surfaced with tar, made its way down from Tan Hill to Reeth. The dale wasn’t such a pastoral scene though – it was largely industrial, with mining and smelting keeping the hardy locals occupied. More surprising is that this was not a barn but Punchard Gill Toll House, occupied by five or six people. It was used to collect tolls from passing traffic after the road was turnpiked in 1770. Used as an agricultural store for the last 100 years this important historical building has recently benefited from major repair work, thanks to the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, Natural England and the owner. More on the story in January’s Dalesman.