Yorkshire Dales Walking

Around Gilpin Beck

6.3 miles | 10.2 km | 393 m Ascent | 8.3 Naismith miles | Alison Kinder / Colin Stroud
Sometimes our program works out such that we are in the same area for two consecutive walks – and that’s the case this time. This walk is at times no more than 200m from our recent Winster Valley walk, and at first we though that must be why a couple of locations looked familiar – we later realised that it is becase our equally excellent route at Lord’s Lot used a short section of the same paths from Spigot House to Bow Mabble Breast.
What does separate this walk from the earlier Lords Lot walk is the weather – we were rather unlucky this time. Despite that, there is much to recommend this walk – easy parking, rivers and tarns, woodland, working farms and some great views. Even in the rain it’s well worth the effort.

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Winster Valley

8.3 miles | 13.3 km | 391 m Ascent | 10.2 Naismith miles | Kate Rowe
Spring is such an optimistic time of the year, and getting out and about on a walk with friends is a great way to experience it. So the Bentham Footpath Group have developed an informal habit of taking a walk each year that celebrates the season by picking a route that features the best of the new daffodils or bluebells.
So, here is a “daffodil walk”, and as all Wordsworth fans will appreciate, it really has to be in the Lake District to be authentic – which means of course that as well as the spring flowers we get great views of the fells, tranquil tarns and on this walk, links to Arthur Ransome.
Although our focus was the daffodils, this is a great walk at any time of the year. We rate it as “moderate” based on distance and elevation change but you should be aware that it can feel challenging under wetter conditions.

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Flookburgh, Cark and the coast

8.3 miles | 13.4 km | 138 m Ascent | 9.0 Naismith miles | David & Sheila Longton
A number of Bentham Footpath Group walks feature views of Morecambe Bay – usually with the Kent or Levens estuaries as the backdrop to higher level walks such as those at Cartmel or Silverdale. This time we do the full seaside experience: Starting at Flookburgh, we walk along the coast getting sand on our boots for a while, before heading inland to Cark, on to Low Bank Side, then across the valley to Templand before returning on a route running through trees below Boarbank Hall. On the way we pass old airbases from both world wars, atmospheric salt marshes, bridleways across the bay, signs of the old shrimping industries, grand Italianate houses, and the odd lime kiln.

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The High Way Upper Wensleydale

7.1 miles | 11.5 km | 371 m Ascent | 9.0 Naismith miles | George Sheridan
Walking is a somewhat weather-dependant hobby, and this route demonstrates that clearly: When we completed our Grisedale and Garsdale walk in this area in June 2022, we enjoyed bright sunshine, walked over dry fields, and asked ourselves why bridges had been provided to cross mere trickles of streams. Fast forward to the wettest start to year that anyone can remember, and we see why the bridges are there – those same streams are now small rivers in full flow.
So, does the rain spoil the experience? Not at all, it just gives us a different perspective: Wonderful waterfalls roar into life, mosses and lichens proliferate, and we get extra exercise jumping over streams and fighting to stay upright on muddy descents. Whatever the weather, this walk offers a great deal – we rate it as easy based on the distance and ascent but be aware that there are steep sections and in the event of poor conditions, extra care is needed.

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Far Moor Bridge and Ribblesdale

7.8 miles | 12.6km | 297 m Ascent | 9.3 Naismith miles | Sandra Craggs
Horton in Ribblesdale is a great place to start a walk, and the “three peaks” are the big draw with Pen-y-Ghent an obvious choice, as is the Sulber Nick route over to Ingleborough.
Both are good walks, but there is much else to see in this area, as we show with a route including a tarn, the stunning Far Moor Bridge, disappearing rivers, atmospheric lime kilns, a National Nature Reserve, extensive limestone pavement, and vast quarries, all of which is accessible via the Settle to Carlisle railway. What more could you want? A blue lagoon? – well there was one until recently, and we can offer pictorial evidence.

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Kettlewell to Starbotton

6.4 miles | 10.3 km | 335 m Ascent | 8.1 Naismith miles | Sandra Craggs
Kettlewell is one of the “Honey pot” villages in the Yorkshire Dales, and so during the peak of the tourist season, it gets rather crowded – and justifiably so – it’s a lovely place.
However, if you pick a glowering day during February when the weather forecast is gloomy, not only will you have the pick of the parking places, but all the paths will be deserted and if the weather proves to be better than expected you will still get some great views.
This walk takes us from Kettlewell up the Top Mere Road to Cam Head and then down Starbotton Cam Road into Starbotton. We then return along a riverside path enjoying typical Upper Wharfedale views. Although we class this walk as easy, based on the distance and total ascent, be aware that the first section is steep, though there are a couple of benches to take a rest.

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Kirkby Lonsdale and Casterton circular

5.0 miles | 8.1km | 164 m Ascent | 5.9 Naismith miles | Don Cartledge
This is one of our shorter walks – partly because we revised part of the route on the day to avoid flooding, and partly because sometimes it’s just nice to offer an easier route that can be used to fill a Sunday afternoon or a spare couple of hours on a balmy summer evening.
Despite being quite compact, this walk packs a lot in – we get to see the dismantled railway line that once linked Ingleton and Sedbergh, via Barbon, we walk on a Roman road, pass a number of Andy Goldsworthy art installations, catch a distant glimpse of a stone circle, visit the beautiful Holy Trinity Church in Casterton, walk on the access road to coal mines that can be traced back to the reign of Charles I, and all still have time left to get some shopping in Kirkby.

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Oxenholme round

7.2 miles | 11.6 km | 271 m Ascent | 8.6Naismith miles | Alison Kinder & Colin Stroud
Kendal styles itself as “The gateway to the Lakes”, and it is indeed a good base for those wishing to explore the southern end of the Lake District. The surrounding countryside also has much to offer in its own right– as we see in this walk.
From convenient parking close to Oxenholme station, we start by climbing the Helm, gaining great views of the Lakeland Fells, the Howgills, and Morecambe Bay. From there we descend past an ancient fort, and a curious folly to pick up St Sunday’s Beck which we follow upstream to the delightful Bleasehall Wood. We note a syphon well before taking an isolated green lane to St Sunday’s Bridge and from there we head to Hawkrigg. The return leg involves a brief but quite steep climb up the aptly named Windy Hill, and then it’s a steady descent to the finish. We show this as an easy walk because it is (just) less than 12 km – but the consensus from the group was that it “feels more like a medium”.

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Norber erratics from Clapham

6.9 miles | 11.0 km | 249 m Ascent | 8.1 Naismith miles | Mary Taylor
Bentham Footpath Group travel up to an hour or so to get to the start of our walks. This generally works well, but given that we already live in paradise, we sometimes find ourselves thinking – why not just stop here and just walk our own patch? So that’s exactly what we do on this walk.
The Norber erratics are well known, and one of the “tick list” attractions in the Yorkshire Dales. The usual starting point would be Austwick – and we have in the past walked from there, but this route extends the day and gives us a chance to take in Clapham and Wharfe, as well as Austwick.

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Sunbiggin Tarn and Great Asby Scar

7.9 miles | 12.7 km | 233 m Ascent | 9.0 Naismith miles | Valerie Eccles & Mary Pickstone
Limestone pavement is one of the defining features of the Yorkshire Dales, and when asked to think of an example, most people mention Malham: that pavement and the Cove are indeed spectacular, and Bentham Footpath Group have enjoyed a number of good walks there.
This walk however visits the much larger (15 square miles) and rather more secluded Great Asby Scar National Nature reserve. Malham famously has a tarn, so we throw one of those in and start at Sunbiggin tarn before taking a gentle climb to the scar using the Dales Highway path. We then head west along the top of the scar and visit Castle Folds, the remains of a Romano-British walled settlement. From there we pick up the path coming up from Asby Winderwath Common and circle round the scar to head down to the Gamelands stone circle, before taking the Coast to Coast path back to the tarn.

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