TRAVEL NORTH - 33: Walkabout in Upper Wharfedale - Wandering The Middle Dales

The green of the dale contrasts with the barren moortop

Hubberholme looking eastwards towards Cray in the south-east corner of Langstrothdale near where it meets Upper Wharfedale
Hubberholme looking eastwards towards Cray in the south-east corner of Langstrothdale near where it meets Upper Wharfedale

Wander through Upper Wharfedale

Church door of St Michael & All Angels at Hubberholme. Your route starts at...
Church door of St Michael & All Angels at Hubberholme. Your route starts at...
...the church gateway (the point of no return for potential grooms), and leads on to....
...the church gateway (the point of no return for potential grooms), and leads on to....
The welcoming George Inn, Hubberholme, on to...
The welcoming George Inn, Hubberholme, on to...
Buckden at the foot of Buckden Pike for a view of hospitality..
Buckden at the foot of Buckden Pike for a view of hospitality..
Through the gateway past Rake Woods on the way to Cray
Through the gateway past Rake Woods on the way to Cray
And maybe another stop for refreshments on a warm afternoon at The Buck Inn, Buckden. The onward...
And maybe another stop for refreshments on a warm afternoon at The Buck Inn, Buckden. The onward...
Look across to Langstrothdale from Buckden, get your waterproofs out...
Look across to Langstrothdale from Buckden, get your waterproofs out...
Cray Gill enters Langstrothdale from the north east. You might spot the off tiddler on the way to...
Cray Gill enters Langstrothdale from the north east. You might spot the off tiddler on the way to...
Cray waterfall - one of several tributaries of the Upper Wharfe that rushes on, at times meanders south-westward towards Grassington
Cray waterfall - one of several tributaries of the Upper Wharfe that rushes on, at times meanders south-westward towards Grassington
Herding sheep at Cray,... not a lot different to herding people. You get the odd strop but by and large
Herding sheep at Cray,... not a lot different to herding people. You get the odd strop but by and large
noboby minds being ushered into the White Lion in Cray village
noboby minds being ushered into the White Lion in Cray village
On your way onward, you'll notice the odd stone barn and dry stone wall. This is in Langstrothdale...
On your way onward, you'll notice the odd stone barn and dry stone wall. This is in Langstrothdale...
onward and upward over a limestone 'pavement', a relic of ages past.
onward and upward over a limestone 'pavement', a relic of ages past.
The infant River Wharfe in Langstrothdale with its   interesting water-carved stone shapes in the river and a plentiful supply of fish for the recently arrived otter population
The infant River Wharfe in Langstrothdale with its interesting water-carved stone shapes in the river and a plentiful supply of fish for the recently arrived otter population
Take to a minor road towards Yockenthwaite - once upon a time this was thickly wooded. 'Thwait' is a Norse word for 'clearing'
Take to a minor road towards Yockenthwaite - once upon a time this was thickly wooded. 'Thwait' is a Norse word for 'clearing'

Another stroll through the past, green dales, towering hills and the infant River Wharfe meandering past on its way south to Kettlewell and beyond.

Pale stone farmhouses and outbuildings, village churches and ancient settlements, fresh air by the gallon and the promise of a pleasant day out. Take your time. You can make this walk last all day, or you can finish it in under four hours and pass on elsewhere.

Higher amongst the uplands are limestone pavements - this is within a half hour's drive north of the walk around Malham - and riverside walkways that wend with the dale. In Upper Wharfedale the river slices through limestone, broadly seen as one of the chief observation areas for spring and summer wildlife. Wonder also at the place names, redolent of the days when the Norsemen settled the area from the north-west.

Begin your wanderings at the church gate in Hubberholme, where Wharfedale meets Langstrothdale. Cross the bridge and turn left at the George Inn and follow the road for a short while. As you make your way you can see the pink-spiked bistort, the fern-like leaves and white flowers of sweet cicely. After just over three hundred yards (275m) beyond Grange Farm turn left through a gate signposted 'Dales Way' and follow a fenced footpath along the riverbank. Watch for kingfishers hereabouts, with the leafy canopy over the river encouraging fish to congregate. You come back to the road close by a bridge that leads into Buckden, the local 'metropolis' and your one and a half mile stage. Follow the leftward-leading track that skirts the village, climb to a gate marked 'Buckden Pike' and take the track uphill through a pair of gates (above the level of the road). Past the second gate bear left at a fork to a gate with a signpost for Cray High Bridge. You might hear the trilling of the male curlew from the moorland above. You should be on your way along Rakes Wood here, above which is an ancient settlement on the moorside below Buckden Pike at around 2,400 feet (702m). Pass over a stile a hundred yards on (80-90m) and through a gate in the wall waymarked 'Cray'. Drop down to stepping stones across Cray Gill.

At three miles take a breather, look upward and around before crossing the road. There are many small watercourses coming down from Muckden Pike on your right and Langstrothdale Chase to your left, tumbling down over waterfalls. These are tributaries of Cray Gill and the Wharfe below, adding their force after rainfall to hurry on south before turning eastward to the Ouse, the Humber and the North Sea before. If ever you needed a lesson on the rainfall water-cycle, this is where to come!

Unless your're going into the pub here, pass to its right, following on the the right at a sign. Take the more obvious path across fields with the wall and fence on your left, winding around the head of the dale to cross a footbridge. Limestone pavements shelter botanical rarities in the crevices. Near Scar House you will find hart's tongue ferns, limestone bedstraw and birdsfoot trefoil that proudly displays its yellow flowers. Pass over another trio of stiles and a gated footbridge. Keep going and look out for a footpath sign that points down through Strans Wood. The rock-strewn path drops and then runs more level before joining a track. Take a left turn, drop down into Yockenthwaite, along your left and then right between buildings to a signpost.

Around Yockenthwaite the Dales Way passes through colourful meadows alive with activity. Several types of orchid flourish here, flowering during June and July. Glow worms can be seen by the river on a warm summer evening and otters have moved into the dale, their footprints evident in the mud under various bridges.

At the six-and-a-half mile point turn left where the way is signposted for Hubberholme and stride on to a gate with a signpost. Beyond that is another gate after which you turn left, pass through a wall-stile where you walk alongside the river through a succession of gates. After a quarter mile the path is signposted to a fenced section between the edge of the field and the Wharfe. You come back to fields after a short walk, which from May onward are dotted with colour from meadow blossoms such as pignut and meadow vetching. The path follows through more stiles and a footbridge, then follows along a restored section of footpath above the river. Hubberholme beckons through the trees with its church. Take a right turn at the end of the church and come to a halt where you started. Hope you enjoyed this roundabout walk!

You will encounter riverside paths, tracks and woodland ways. You could also begin in the National Carpark pay and display site in Buckden. Some parts are pushchair accessible but it is mostly unsuitable. The route is not suitable at all for wheelchairs.


By car Hubberholme is on the B6160 up Langstrothdale. At Buckden turn left over the bridge and Hubberholme is about a mile or so onward. (The B6160 passes north from Buckden through Cray to join the A6108 east of Aysgarth between Hawes and Leyburn). Besides the NCP car park at Buckden there is also roadside parking near the church, by the river.

Travelling by bus the Pride of the Dales route 72R runs from Skipton Station (not Sundays). On Sundays and Bank Holiday Mondays between May and September take the Dalesbus 874 from Ilkley Station.

Both stations are linked from Leeds by Northern Rail.

Refreshments and accommodation (you might want to linger a while, after all): there are public houses at Buckden, Cray and Hubberholme,

1) The Buck Inn, Buckden nr Skipton, BD23 5JA, ph 01756 760228,

2) The White Lion, Cray nr Skipton, 01756 760262

3) The George Inn, Hubberholme nr Skipton, BD23 5JE, 01756 760223 (propr. Barry Roberts)

Maps: Ordnance Survey Explorer OL30, Grid ref SD 927 782

Information:

Yorkshire Dales National Park, www.yorkshiredales.org.uk

Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, www.ywt.org.uk

National Trust, www.nationaltrust.org.uk

Weather, www.weatheronline.co.uk

Tourist information, www.northyorks.gov.uk/

www.discovernorthyorkshire.co.uk

Travel, www.yorkshiretravel.net/

Ordnance Survey Maps

Very important if you mean to do some serious walking. Ordnance Survey Maps are updated and revised periodically. They feature every footpath registered as well as public telephones, should things get sticky. Originally commissioned for the military, they're used by rescue services as well as walkers - they also keep you from straying onto private or Ministry of Defence (MoD) property. You wouldn't want to come up against the Military Police unless you could convince them you'd genuinely got lost!

Where are we? Don't panic, you're not lost... yet

Close-up of the route area, a roughly north-south progress that affords some stunning views and lots of green (rainfall above UK average) for grazing both sheep and cattle
Close-up of the route area, a roughly north-south progress that affords some stunning views and lots of green (rainfall above UK average) for grazing both sheep and cattle | Source
Overview of the area from the back cover of Ordnance Survey Map No. 98, the extent of the area covered being Upper Wharfedale and Wensleydale
Overview of the area from the back cover of Ordnance Survey Map No. 98, the extent of the area covered being Upper Wharfedale and Wensleydale | Source
Showing the original Yorkshire Ridings (Thirdings), the area above comes under both North and West Ridings, since 1974 now wholly in North Yorkshire
Showing the original Yorkshire Ridings (Thirdings), the area above comes under both North and West Ridings, since 1974 now wholly in North Yorkshire | Source

You can never have too many guides. This one will show you the best places to go, where to stay, what to see. Full colour images, directions etc. Worth the outlay even if you never get there - you can still dream. Soak in the atmosphere of the higher Dales with the views in this book, let your eyes wander... and wonder. This is no pretty scenery. It's mostly rugged, grey stone farms, barns, inns and cottages or houses surrounded by vast acres of grazing land or moortop. Sheep outnumber people several times over in these parts. Cattle graze the more lush pasture and people collect in villages dotted with inns, small stores and post offices that sell everything but the kitchen sink.

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Comments 6 comments

Eva Civo profile image

Eva Civo 4 years ago

Alan, I'm blown away by so many of your hubs! Are you going to publish any of these for money? They look like some serious epic material. Again, totally blown away- don't know where to begin, lol!


alancaster149 profile image

alancaster149 4 years ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire) Author

Hello Eva. Thanks for the vote of approval. These Hub-pages pull some advertising revenue (almost 230 of them).

What I have on offer in the way of publications is - so far - a pair of paperbacks. See the RAVENFEAST page on my Profile page for more.


Eva Civo profile image

Eva Civo 4 years ago

I checked it out, good for you! You deserve it. I hope I can replicate your success one day!


alancaster149 profile image

alancaster149 4 years ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire) Author

Always glad to help a potential customer! Maybe one day you'll check out some of these walks, 'on the ground'.


Lashayne 23 months ago

I'd rather walk (via Buckden Rake as in your post) as it was a lolvey evening. I think I knew myself at that point that I was lying and had no intention of walking straight from pub to pub. I'd been eyeing up Buckden Pike, which I'd never done, during my walk with Richard in the day and had luckily commented on it at the time that came in useful later.As could be predicted for me, at the top of the climb to the rake from Cray, I continued straight on up Buckden Pike and then, completely mapless (and compassless) and in rapidly-approaching dusk, fabricated a route back down to the rake just above Buckden. Luckily I was fully aware of the mine area just above Buckden so was careful to avoid that area in the dark.About an hour and half later, I was just descending the last part of The Rake into Buckden when I was met by a furious Richard. Where on earth have you been? he asked. I told him he knew perfectly well where I'd been, as did my parents. He immediately said Buckden Pike so proving my point that they knew what I was like and exactly where I'd gone! I was in the doghouse for a bit though. Thoroughly enjoyed my walk though Carol.


alancaster149 profile image

alancaster149 4 months ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire) Author

Lashayne, I've only just come across your comment (18th July, '16).

Nice of you to pass by. Do you visit the area regularly or do you live there? I was up that way in May, to avoid heavy traffic in Hawes after taking half an hour to pass through on the way to the creamery, and left by Gayle. I brought the wife and kids this way back in the late 90s, let them wander around in Littondale to stretch their legs.

I spent some time looking at the water-shaped stones in the river.

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