Embsay is an attractive stone built village close to Skipton on the southern edge of the Yorkshire Dales National Park. To the north of the village is Barden Moor a vast area of heather moorland. Rather drab during the winter but quite spectacular during the late summer months, when the heather turns to a sea of purple. Access to the moor is open for most of the year, however during the Grouse shooting season which starts on August 12th through to December access to the general public can be limited. Notices of shooting dates are posted on the boards at all access points.
Starting at the car park in the centre of the village, this is a short circular walk, not particularly strenuous, and can easily be completed in a couple of hours, Though it does require a bit of uphill walking, the footpaths are generally clear and easy to follow. However, even during the summer months the area between the reservoir and the lower part of the crag can be very boggy.
At the rear of the car park go through the gate, and cross the small field diagonally to the left hand corner. Go through the gate and follow the narrow footpath to the rear of the terraced of cottages. Cross the field at the end of the footpath this will lead you onto Kirk Lane. Turn left and continue on passing St Mary’s Church on your left hand side.
From the church, about a hundred yards ahead as the roads turns right, look for the sign leading to Bondcroft Farm and follow the narrow lane which leads out onto Barden Moor.
From this point, the footpath for the steady climb to top of the Crag is clear and easy to follow. This is by far the easiest way to the top, the walk from the reservoir side being a lot steeper.
On reaching the top of the crag, huge boulders form an impressive gritstone outcrop, and the 360 degree view on a clear day is quite spectacular. Skipton to the south sits directly below, extensive views can be seen across Carleton Moor, Simon’s Seat/ Bolton Abbey areas of Wharfedale and over the border in Lancashire the huge whale shaped outline of Pendle Hill.
From the summit it can a steep descent in places and rocky underfoot. There are a few different routes down to the bottom. Once reached it is a short walk back to Embsay following the track alongside the reservoir and then the narrow country lane.
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The Kilnsey Show in Upper Wharfedale Nth.Yorkshire, has been welcoming visitors every autumn since the 1800’s. Officially it began in 1897 and has always been organised by the local farming community. Held in the shadow of Kilnsey Crag, the show attracts thousands of visitors and provides numerous events and attractions, including sheepdog trials, dry stone walling, falconry display, prize giving for sheep and cattle, horse events and even fly fishing demonstrations.
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Over the years we have been regular visitors to the South of France and have done this walk on numerous occasions. Starting from Beaulieau-Sur-Mer the walk in total is approximately nine kilometers. In places the path is quite rugged, but it is not particularly difficult to complete. With far reaching views out to sea, wonderful aroma’s from the variety of herbs and shrubs, the constant chatter of the Cicada’s and spectacular scenery all the way, this is a beautiful walk and a real treat for the senses.
From Beaulieu, it is a short walk along the Promenade Maurice Rouvier to St Jean Cap Ferrat.
Approaching this magnificent sugar pink villa, with it’s private mooring and lower terrace’s directly onto the sea, an elderly man nearby with his wife, seemingly quite excited, turned to me and exclaimed ‘ Beautiful ! la villa Rolliing Stones’ Hmmm !! I didn’t like to disappoint him but had to point out that this was in fact called ‘Le Fleur Du Cap’, and once the home of film star David Niven. He seemed a little surprised, but I explained that it was the Villa Nellcote that he needed to find, and that it was not too far away on Avenue Louise Bordes overlooking the bay of Villefranche (top left corner of the map above)
The gates to Villa Nellcote, (link) Keith Richards opulent villa in the seventies, where the Stones recorded Exile on Main Street. Nothing can be seen of the actual villa itself from the gates, dense foliage and huge trees protect it from view, however a bit further along, and down the steps to the beach on the bay of Villefranche, it is possible to see part of it, including a glimpse of the huge marble pillars which front the villa.
Having deviated slightly here from the walk, back to Promenade Maurice Rouvier. Continue onward along the footpath, eventually after a short distance you will reach St Jean. Here at the tourist information you can pick up a free map. Follow the narrow main road through the village, turn left at the end and head for Paloma Beach. The footpath crosses the beach, past all the alfresco diners and continues on around the tiny peninsular on the eastern side of the cap.
Left click above picture to enlarge (as with them all) The large pinkish seafront villa near the centre belongs to U2 singer Bono.
Arriving at this point, follow the road (Avenue Claude Vignon) to the left passing Plage Des Fossettes and Plage Des Fosses. Turn left at the point below then follow the footpath through a narrow private road which leads out along the coast.
A rather innovative and futuristic design, the above villa is owned by London architect Sir Norman Foster. One of his many well known designs, and also one of the most prominent features on the London skyline is the building known as the Gherkin.
Once rounding the tip, climbing the steps up to the top near the lighthouse on the western side of the cap, is just about the most strenuous part of this walk. From here the scenery becomes much more dramatic, in places the narrow dusty track twists and turns, clinging to the rock face with sheer drops down to the sea and the jagged rocks below. Here at various points along the way, you can find steps leading down to your own private little bay. (assuming nobody has got there before you)
Reaching the fountain at top of the steps there are two footpaths, to continue on the walk follow the footpath to the left. However if you have a particular interest in literature it is only a short deviation from the walk to visit Villa Mauresque once the home of English playwright and novelist Somerset Maugham. Apart from the war years Maugham lived in the villa for nearly forty years until his death in 1965.
The villa can be found at the top end of Avenue Somerset Maugham. Many of the rich and famous of the period were guests at the villa over the years, including Picasso, Noel Coward, Evelyn Waugh, Winston Churchill and the exiled Duke and Duchess of Windsor, who lived nearby at Chateau de la Croe on Cap D’Antibes, now the home of Roman Abramavich.
Follow the footpath onward through Plage Passable, turning left at the top of the steps, continue along the road before reaching this narrow passageway featured below. This will lead you back across the cap to St Jean.
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Gazing out of the window on a cold dull rainy March morning, it did not look to be the most inspiring day to set off for a walk in the hills. However, the weather forecast did look promising, with snow forecast for later that morning. This I thought might give me an ideal opportunity to capture a few picturesque snowy scenes. By around 9.30 am the snow was falling quite heavily, and with my rucksack packed I set off for Settle about an hour later. The weather actually turned out better than I expected, with blue skies and bright sunshine by midday. (Well this is the Pennines) These are a few of the images I captured, all taken between Langcliffe and Stainforth. Left click for larger images.
These images all form part of the route from an earlier post, but taken early last year on a bright day, but minus the snow. (click here) https://whartonpjw.wordpress.com/2015/01/07/settle-lancliffe-stainforth-yorkshire-dales/
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I imagine if a person familiar with the area was asked to name one of the dales they would quite possibly mention Wharfedale or maybe Wensleydale. I think it unlikely that Crummackdale would be the first to spring to mind. Often overlooked by the guide books this area is one of the dales ‘hidden gems’ the scenery being just as spectacular as the more popular areas, with the bonus that there are nowhere near as many visitors, as for example Malham.
Crummackdale is a secluded pastoral valley surrounded by Limestone uplands & rugged scars, much of it following ancient tracks and bridleways.
For this post I have decided to write a brief guide to the area and not map out a definitive walking route. With a decent map (O/S Yorkshire Dales Western Area 1.25 000) A number of different easy routes can be followed.
The photographs also are not chronological, but have been chosen from a number of walks I have undertaken during different seasons in the last couple of years. A popular starting point for exploring the area is the village of Austwick a few miles north of Settle. There is plenty of roadside parking or the service bus between Skipton and Kirby Lonsdale (Cumbria) stops at Austwick, click for (Timetable) From Austwick follow the narrow lane passing the village shop and the ‘Game Cock Inn’ excellent country pub and popular with walkers. Continue on passing the village school on your left, looking out for the bridleway alongside the barn conversion little further ahead to your right.
Best visited in the spring Oxenber Wood comes to life with an abundance of wildflowers.
Dalesbred are a hardy breed, capable of surviving the harsh conditions of the upland areas of the Pennines. They are a cross between Swaledale and Scottish Blackface breeds, and are best distinguished by a white spot either side of the black face, with a lightly grey coloured muzzle.
Wharfe is a tiny idyllic hamlet consisting of no more than about twenty dwellings a few of which are farmhouses. It is quite unique as there are no actual roads into the village, just a few bridleways, a track leads into the village from the nearest country lane which is about a hundred yards from its centre.
Left click all images for an increased picture size.
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The bleak and windswept moors above Grassington can be an extremely harsh environment especially during the winter months. In the nineteenth century these moors were home to a thriving lead mining industry. There is much evidence of this still to be seen today and the Grassington lead mining trail provides a fascinating insight into this once local industry.
The life of a miner would have been extremely harsh. Before even reaching the mine he would have to walk the two miles, maybe more from either Grassington or Hebden, crossing open moorland in all weathers, no shelter, completely exposed to the elements. Little surprise then that in 1863 the average life expectancy for these miners would have been forty six years.
Starting in Grassington, follow the main street through the vllage. On reaching the Town Hall at the top of the street, continue on straight ahead, along the road to the left. This is Moor Lane, a very steep and narrow country lane, with beautiful views either side across the wild and open countryside. Continue upward for about a mile until reaching Yarnbury, which consists of no more than a few houses. In the 19th century, this was a large lead mining area.
The above building at Yarnbury is the ‘Weigh House’ This is where the mine ore would have been weighed before leaving Grassington.
From the ‘Weigh House’ Barratt’s Shaft can be found about 100 yards ahead on the grass verge to the right. From here follow the stony track a little ahead leading out onto the moor. (As in photo below.)
From the chimney, retrace your steps back to the wide stony track. Continue on this track for a few hundred yards (passing the footpath to your right which formed part of the earlier route) Once reaching the gate continue onward a short distance and take the left turn as seen in the photograph below. The track to the right leads back to Yarnbury.
We now leave bleak and desolate moorland and head down to Hebden Gill for one of the most picturesque and tranquil walks in the dales. Hebden Gill or Ghyll is a relatively narrow, steep sided valley. To the left heading back in the direction of Hebden, the Gill is flanked by outcrops of rock and huge millstone grit boulders, with numerous mini waterfalls along the way cascading down from the moorland above. The head of the Gill is an excellent place for spotting the Wheatear a summer migrant bird which arrives here in Britain around late March early April.
The above photograph is the ruins of what was once thought to be known as ‘The Engine House’ this would have been where the mines steam engine attendant lived.
The bridge in the above photograph is known as ‘Miners Bridge’. This was part of a cart road constructed as a link between Hebden and the lead mines.
On reaching the main Pateley Bridge/Grassington Road, cross and continue through the village.
A short distance ahead, passing the old schoolhouse, now a cafe. Follow the footpath back down to the Gill (Photo above) Continue along the footpath following the signposts. Take a right turn on reaching the narrow country lane, then follow the signposted footpath to your left. This will bring you to the Hebden suspension bridge. From here follow the riverside footpath along the River Wharfe back to Grassington.
The bridge was built by the village blacksmith, William Bell in 1885 at a cost of ninety pounds.
Map covering the area OS Explorer Map OL2 Yorkshire Dales Southern and Western Areas.
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Kettlewell is situated in Upper Wharfedale, six miles north of Grassington. High fells surround the village, with Kettlewell beck flowing through to join the river Wharfe, making this an ideal centre for the outdoor enthusiast.
Setting off from the Kings Head pub, recently refurbished and reopened after a change of ownership. Continue onward along the narrow lane for a couple of hundred yards, after passing the ancient packhorse bridge to your left the lane peters out and becomes a stony track. Continue on along this track, which after a short distance becomes a very steep climb up to Hag Dyke.
Passing the bridge to your left continue along the track ahead. After about one hundred yards another smaller bridge is reached. Cross the bridge, but do not follow the sign to your right pointing to Hag Dyke. This leads straight up the fellside and is part of the return journey.
The ruins of Kettlewell Lead Smelting Mill can be seen to your left a short distance ahead.
The earliest record of Hag Dyke is 1730 when it was a farmhouse, today used as a Scout Hostel. To continue, pass through the gate to the side of the hostel and follow the path up the fellside to the rear. This is a steep climb covered in loose rocks and boulders. Here the rock changes from the limestone below to hard millstone grit.
On reaching the top the next few hundred yards, (usually very boggy but today frozen solid) it is a gentle climb to the final and steepest section up to the summit. This is the most challenging part, one of those climbs where you think the point ahead is the top only to find when you reach it you still have further to go.
Nearing the summit, the area is covered in large boulders with the trig point being almost hidden.
At 2,310 ft. the views from Great Whernside are magnificent. This is the highest point in Wharfedale just narrowly beating Buckden Pike which is 2,303 ft. On this particular day the weather could not have been kinder. A few clouds, but mainly blue skies, bright sunshine and a light wind. In the far distance the fells appeared as shadows and seemed to fade into the sky.
The above photograph is a rather feeble attempt with my new camera to take a panoramic shot. However, a left click with the mouse and then another left click on the increased image, it doesn’t look too bad. (The blank bit is my failure to complete the 180 degree turn necessary to finish the shot.) There is an image cropping facility within the camera but unfortunately this will not modify an image in the panoramic mode.
Having had coffee, I was mindful of the fact that although not exactly rope and crampon terrritory, I now had to descend down what could be a rather hazardous route. The rocky fellside down to Hag Dyke was covered in snow and ice. It was mid-afternoon and would be dark within a couple of hours. I hadn’t seen a soul since leaving Kettlewell. In this remote area a slip on one of the icy rocks now could have serious consequences.
Taking extra care, I descended to Hag Dyke without incident. From here the route is straight forward with the signpost directing you down the fellside to Kettlewell on a clearly defined footpath.
On returning to Kettlewell there are three excellent pubs to choose from, all with plenty of character. The Bluebell Inn is a 17th century inn. The Racehorses, originally a stable block for the Bluebell and the Kings Head a traditional pub with flagged floors and an Inglenook fireplace, recently refurbished and reopened under new management.
Map covering the area. Yorkshire Dales Northern and Central areas. OS Explorer OL30.
Above photograph, looking down on Kettlewell on a hazy summers day.
For a list of my other Dales walks, please click the following link. http://philipjw.tumblr.com/