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Yorkshire Dales Walk
A Wharfedale wander from Burnsall

Nat Park - Yorkshire Dales - Lower Wharfedale

County/Area - North Yorkshire

Author - Stephen Starkey

Length - 13.5 miles / 21.9 km

Ascent - 1700 feet / 515 metres

Time - 8 hours 30 minutes

Grade - moderate

Start - OS grid reference SE031610
Lat 54.044961 // Long -1.954149
Postcode BD23 6BS (approx. location only)
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Walk Route Description

Photo from the walk - A Wharfedale wander from Burnsall Photo from the walk - A Wharfedale wander from Burnsall Photo from the walk - A Wharfedale wander from Burnsall Photo from the walk - A Wharfedale wander from Burnsall Photo from the walk - A Wharfedale wander from Burnsall Photo from the walk - A Wharfedale wander from Burnsall
Click thumbnails for larger images.

This is a walk through the beautiful Lower Wharfedale area and takes in much of the beauty of one of the most popular of the Yorkshire Dales. Though the walk is longer than average for Walking Britain, there is less climbing than on many shorter walks and the vast majority of the ascent is covered in the first third of the walk. There are various points (such as Linton, Grassington and Hebden) that would offer alternative start points. However, by starting at the beautiful village of Burnsall, you avoid the traffic queues heading to Grassington, Kettlewell etc.

A Wharfedale wander from Burnsall A Wharfedale wander from Burnsall A Wharfedale wander from Burnsall A Wharfedale wander from Burnsall A Wharfedale wander from Burnsall A Wharfedale wander from Burnsall A Wharfedale wander from Burnsall A Wharfedale wander from Burnsall A Wharfedale wander from Burnsall 
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There have been many times I've been heading along the main Skipton to Grassington road into Wharfedale when my eyes have wandered to the hill tops and seen the obelisk above Cracoe. Each time I kept saying to myself "One day I'm going to walk up there". That day duly arrived in late September 2007.

As well as having a good car park and good, quiet roads to the village, Burnsall is one of the most beautiful villages in the Yorkshire Dales and is well situated for walking to other areas of Wharfedale. A sizeable village green adjoins the River Wharfe with a picturesque bridge crossing the river. Be warned though, as you walk across the village green from the car park towards the bridge, you have to pass the Wharfe View Tea Room from which the aroma of bacon sandwiches exerts an almost irresistible pull. Before you succumb to temptation, be aware that some of the gap stiles in the walls leading out of Burnsall are not overly generous on the gap.

From the village green, follow the B6160 away from the river and towards Grassington. Shortly after the right hand bend, you will pass a house called the Old Cobblers on the right. Opposite this house on the left of the road is a narrow wooden gate through which an unsigned public footpath leads NW across fields. After walking across a number of narrow, flat fields, the path curves to the left and starts to climb gently, crossing Badger Lane and eventually Starton Beck. After looping to the North of Kail Hill, the path emerges on to a minor road at the hamlet of Thorpe.

Turn left along the road, keep left again at the junction in the middle of the hamlet and keep left once more to join a track when the road splits. The initial climb away from Thorpe is on an obvious walled track. Whilst climbing the track, it is worth looking back at the expanding views of Wharfedale across Thorpe. When you get to the gate in the wall marking the boundary of the access land, the going starts to change. Of the two obvious tracks you can see ahead climbing the hill, the one on the left is the one that corresponds with the track marked on the OS map.

Initially this track leads up a small grassy gully, climbing easily to reach a small cairn (not marked on the OS map) at grid ref SE011605 where a path leads across. Ignore the more obvious cross path and continue ahead climbing a much less obvious valley now. Sheep tracks lead off in all manner of directions now. Providing you keep heading in a basically Southerly direction, it doesn't much matter which of the tracks you follow - there isn't an easy option across the dense heather.

Eventually you will arrive at a clear shooters track. If you are of a mind to reach a summit having got this far, you could continue ahead for the last section to the trig point atop Burnsall & Thorpe Fell. The plateau nature of the summit means the views are not as extensive as on the way up the fell, though you do get an earlier first sighting of Cracoe Obelisk. I'm not convinced it is worth the extra effort of yomping through the heather though.

Assuming you don't summit Burnsall & Thorpe Fell, turn right and follow the well maintained shooters track as it traverses the fell with it's wide variety of ground nesting birds. Shortly after the track merges with a wall, you arrive at a wooden stile. There are paths on both sides of the wall here. The marginally shorter route to the Obelisk is obtained by crossing the wall at this point and following the path to the West of the wall. If you choose to stay on the East of the wall out of the prevailing wind, there is a second stile across the wall adjacent to the Obelisk. The Obelisk was built as a memorial to those from the parish who gave their lives during the two World Wars. The views over Wharfedale from the Obelisk are impressive.

Before leaving the Obelisk, look down the hill slightly West of North, where the obvious Skelterton Hill will be seen. Just to the West of this hill you will see a prominent walled track to the left of a small wood. This track (Fell Lane) is your next objective. There is no path to follow to descend from the fell top and the gradient is initially very steep. The rough moorland grass does however provide a good level of grip. As the gradient eases and you reach the long reed grass, the going underfoot becomes very boggy though the reed grass does provide an amazing load bearing capability. Take care with your footing though as there are numerous small streams flowing down the hill to catch the unwary.

When you get to the wooden sheepfold complex, head to the Western end of this where a small wooden gate at either end of a narrow passage provide easy access to the gate leading in to Fell Lane. After the boggy passage across the lower slopes of the fell, the stony lane with easy going to Cracoe comes as a welcome change. Turn right (NE) and follow the B6265 as far as the prominent left hand bend then continue ahead on the narrow tarmac lane (Thorpe Lane). When this lane bends to the right, bear left on the concrete drive towards Threapland Farm, marked as a public footpath and also signed to a Camping & Caravanning Club approved site.

At the farm gate, with a finger post identifying multiple footpath options, pass through the metal gates in to the farmyard to take the right most path (heading NE). After passing through the farmyard, follow the farm track through three fields. When, in the fourth field, the track bears left, fork right on to the grassy path, heading towards the edge of a small woodland near Langerton Farm. The path follows a fence around the wood before heading across the pastures again, now in a generally NE direction. Along this section the path is sometimes not too clear on the ground but, unless the visibility is very poor, the gate / stile at the far side of the field can generally be seen. Shortly after passing Brows Plantation - a small wood - the path swings left and heads down a short green lane to arrive in the picturesque village of Linton.

Leave the centre of the village on the road heading NE. When this splits, there is a choice of route. The shorter route is to follow the road to the left, signposted to the 12th Century Parish Church, keep ahead at the crossroads then, when the road bends left, bear right on a lane - still heading towards Linton Parish Church. When this lane bends right, follow the path ahead to Linton Falls. The slightly longer alternative is to take the minor road that forks right, then continue East at the road junction for 50m then take the path between fields on the left. When this path arrives at a minor road, turn left. This will take you past some public toilets should you need a visit. When this lane bends left, take the path on the right to Linton Falls.

After crossing the bridge at Linton Falls, the main route turns right to follow the Dales Way path alongside the River Wharfe. However, if time permits and the body needs some form of top up, a short detour to the shops, cafes and pubs of Grassington may be appropriate.

From the bridge at Linton Falls, head ESE on the Dales Way path signed to Hebden and Burnsall. Just under 1km after leaving the bridge, there are superb views back across the river to the 12th Century church. The route then follows a very pleasant woodland path next to the River Wharfe to arrive at a point near Hebden where the river needs to be crossed. There are two obvious options for this - one is the narrow suspension bridge, the other is a set of stepping stones next to the bridge.

After crossing the river, bear left to keep on the Dales Way path next to the river. With the peaceful and tranquil nature of the river scene in the 4km walking since leaving Linton Falls, the limestone cliffs at Loup Scar come as something of a surprise. After a further 750m or so of walking along the river bank you arrive back at Burnsall Bridge and the car park just across the village green.

Notes - The ascent / descent of Burnsall & Thorpe Fell is across pathless moor and is very boggy in places - particularly the descent. An easier descent from the obelisk to Cracoe can be made by continuing across Hall Fell to join a bridleway at grid ref. SE985570 leading to Rylstone then taking the Chapel Lane track to Cracoe. This easier descent does however increase the distance of the walk by approximately 4.5 km.

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