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Yorkshire Dales Walk
Valley of Desolation & Simon's Seat

Nat Park - Yorkshire Dales - Lower Wharfedale

County/Area - North Yorkshire

Author - Lou Johnson

Length - 8.4 miles / 13.7 km

Ascent - 1500 feet / 455 metres

Time - 5 hours 40 minutes

Grade - moderate

Start - OS grid reference SE052573
Lat 54.01169 // Long -1.922141
Postcode BD23 6AT (approx. location only)
what3words start blueberry.pumpkin.glitter

Walk Route Description

Photo from the walk - Valley of Desolation & Simon's Seat
Click thumbnails for larger images.

This Yorkshire Dales walk includes riverside paths, woodland, moorland, two rocky summits and wonderful views over Wharfedale and Nidderdale. The route follows good paths throughout and with few navigation problems. The start is the small riverside car park adjacent to the River Wharfe at Barden Bridge (grid ref. SE052573) just west of the B6160 between Bolton Abbey and Burnsall. It is worth noting that dogs are not allowed on the moorland sector of this walk.

From the car park head south along the east bank of the River Wharfe following a delightful section of the Dale Way with the River to your left. The path stays on the east bank as far as a substantial stone bridge where it crosses to the other bank. The Dales Way passes through beautiful woodland to the Strid where the River Wharfe squeezes through a narrow rocky defile before regaining a more gentler flow a few hundred metres downstream. Continuing through woodland maintained by the Bolton Abbey Estate you reach a wooden bridge (marked as such on the OS 1:25000 map) at grid ref. SE077552.

Cross the bridge and turn left along the clear footpath along the river bank heading upstream with the river on your left. After a short way the path rises to join a tarmac lane. Follow the lane and climb slightly to reach a gatehouse on your right. Adjacent to this is a waymarked path signed "Simon's Seat". Take this path passing through pastures at first but soon entering a valley. You will notice a footbridge down on your left (Grid ref. SE078566). Cross this and follow the narrow path upstream to pass a waterfall.

Above the waterfall you enter the 'Valley of Desolation', which despite its name provides pleasant walking. The onward path soon enters a conifer plantation. The path through this is soon completed and you exit onto open moorland. The onward path is obvious and climbing gently the gritstone rocks that mark the summit of Simon's Seat soon come into view which is the next objective. The bird's eye perspective of Wharfedale is particularly fine and it is a perfect place for a break. A short optional visit may be made to Lord's Seat, which lies about 500 metres east. This sees fewer visitors and offers views towards Nidderdale.

To continue head southwest from Simon's Seat on a narrower path. This descends to a wall which is followed (keep wall to your right). Stay on the descending path beside the wall to join a track signed to 'Howgil'. Follow the track down by the wall and fence. Cross the stile by a gate following the path to a junction between gates. Keep ahead descending. The path curves right. Bear left at the next junction. After a barn go right signed to 'Howgill'. Stay on the track go straight ahead at a junction of tracks to reach a road. Cross the road and join the Dales Way heading south along the east bank of the River Wharfe. This leads pleasantly to Barden Bridge where the walk started.

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