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Travel North - 63: Wharfedale Circular via Bolton Abbey

Updated on February 10, 2020

From Addingham in Wharfedale...

Now a quiet little town, Addingham was once a local centre for milling wool fabric
Now a quiet little town, Addingham was once a local centre for milling wool fabric | Source
The River Wharfe by Addingham
The River Wharfe by Addingham | Source

In this approximately eight mile return walk you'll find variety and eye-catching beauty.

A.look around Bolton Abbey midway along your route has to be a highlight. From there on is a tapestry of rolling hills, riverside walks, and even a golf course (what more can you want?).

Addingham was a mill village that produced woollen textiles to be exported around Europe and further afield in various forms. Its history is of commercial interest, a welcome alternative to nearby Ilkley and Keighley. Many walkers only see the place as a 'stage' on their 95 mile Dalesway hike.

If you drive there park close to the school east of the village, then head west over the old railway and gradually climb to the moor. The lane gives way after almost a mile to a path that takes north-west onto a golf course. First there's a mere (small lake) on your left, a handy spot to take in the view and get your breath back after the climb, and take in the view behind on Ilkley Moor.

Onward, head on north-westwardly past the golf course, uphill still although not sas steep, past Highfield House and its ancillary buildings to your left, and on to the 'homer farm. Pass through the farm yard and carry on north-west on a signposted, although not too clearly marked path. When a path is so vague look for stiles largely inset in the stone walls in this area. These are usually good markers for walks.

Chelker Reservoir, Haw Pike and Beamsley Beacon

Chelker Reservoir with its wind farm
Chelker Reservoir with its wind farm | Source
The 'Trig point', Haw Pike
The 'Trig point', Haw Pike | Source
Beamsley Beacon
Beamsley Beacon | Source

To your left is Chelker Reservoir, noted as having the first (now de-commissioned) wind turbine in England...

However it's not accessible from the path these days. Carry on along a wall for around 500 yards (200 m) north of the reservoir until you come to a where paths meet at Berwick East.

Take the path north-eastward from the farm Where it forks take the path right. You might make a short detour here for the 'Trig point' (where map sightings were made for the Ordnance Survey) of Haw Pike. This is a beauty spot you shouldn't miss, with a vista over to Beamsley Beacon, the Southern Dales and Bolton Abbey estate in the vicinity..

Join a lane that takes you down a steep bank from Hawpike Farm to the A59 dual carriageway, cross the road carefully. - it's sometimes fairly busy, so be prepared for a wait - to reach the Devonshire Arms, a fine looking hotel. Follow the road north to the ruins of Bolton Abbey three-quarters of a mile off....

Bolton Abbey

Bolton Abbey from a bend in the River Wharfe
Bolton Abbey from a bend in the River Wharfe | Source
Bolton Abbey as many a walker will see it in its semi-woodland setting
Bolton Abbey as many a walker will see it in its semi-woodland setting | Source
Bolton Abbey from across the River Wharfe with the famed - or is it notorious? - stone steps the monks used to cross the river. Would you?
Bolton Abbey from across the River Wharfe with the famed - or is it notorious? - stone steps the monks used to cross the river. Would you? | Source

Bolton Abbey, Wharfedale, Yorkshire

Bolton Abbey, Wharfedale, Yorkshire BD23 6EX :
Bolton Abbey, Skipton BD23 6AL, UK

get directions

...A fine looking Augustinian abbey set well on the bank of the River Wharfe.

You'll be able to take your time, look around, maybe take a breather in the cafe here and watch the river flow south-east. The monks never rushed around in the way we do now - maybe there's a lesson there.

You may even want to try your balancing skills by crossing the river over the large, square stepping stones. Many do, and cross without getting wet, and back again.

Return to the A59 along the river bank from the abbey to Addingham. Your route takes you along the Dalesway, a well-signposted and easy to follow path. The first part is open countryside with grand vistas. After passing under the A59 the land is hilly with some woodland areas. The path stays largely on the riverbank as far as a caravan park that marks the edge of Addingham, and back to where you started out.

Wharfedale and the Yorkshire Dales in general

Walk map courtesy of Walk2walk
Walk map courtesy of Walk2walk | Source
Yorkshire, central across the north of England with...
Yorkshire, central across the north of England with...
...The Yorkshire Dales. Wharfedale in this map is the lower left quarter to the right of where Skipton is marked
...The Yorkshire Dales. Wharfedale in this map is the lower left quarter to the right of where Skipton is marked

Distance covered is around 8 miles, maximum elevation reached 920 feet (280 m)

The walk is no great challenge and can be handled by most reasonably fit age groups, although there's a steep start and paths near Chelker Reservoir might be hard to follow. Best around Bolton Abbey. For a detour challenge try walking the stepping stones there across the river and back.

There is a cafe at Bolton Abbey as mentioned, as well as a cafe and a choice of several pubs in Addingham.

Take an Ordnance Survey map (Explorer Number 297). In case the weather closes in take a compass. Carry weatherproofs, wear good waterproof boots with thick socks - it can turn cold suddenly - and preferably cord trousers not jeans. You don't want to walk around in damp clothes.

Take your litter home with you if you have a picnic or snack along the way, and remember to close any gates behind you.

Visit Jonathan Smith's Where2walk site for hints and guidance on hill walks and navigating, following and reading Ordnance Survey maps.


© 2020 Alan R Lancaster


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    • alancaster149 profile imageAUTHOR

      Alan R Lancaster 

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

      Hello again Dora, back in my neck o' the woods? I've done another page on Wharfedale, Upper Wharfedale. This is a bit further down. Another page takes you down a neighbouring dale, Coverdale that follows the River Cover. One way or t'other I've got the area sowed up, what with Malham Cove and Gordale Scar in neighbouring Cravendale, the Three Peaks in and around (Upper) Ribblesdale, and the Settle-Carlisle Railway that also courses along Ribblesdale near Horton-in-Ribblesdale! In fact practically the whole of the Dales in this series. It might not be a big island compared with the likes of Jamaica, but you sure can get lost in it. That's why we've got all these rescue teams, Lifeboat crews, road rescue and helicopter ambulances for when people play silly bu***rs and risk their lives.

      Glad you could make it, train was just about to pull out...

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      16 months ago from The Caribbean

      The journey along this path is sure to revitalize on physically and emotionally. Thanks for sharing this beautiful experience.

    • alancaster149 profile imageAUTHOR

      Alan R Lancaster 

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

      That's the bugbear isn't it. For such a small land area, the UK has a lot to see. Being as I'm a Yorkshireman by upbringing - didn't qualify for the Yorkshire CCC when I was the right age - I can't promote other parts of these islands, except maybe London since I've lived here most of my life (so far). There's a lot of scenery within Yorkshire alone, from the coastal plain on Teesside and the East Riding (what's left of it after being messed about in the 1974 political boundary changes) to the Three Peaks in the Pennines, we've just about got it covered, although not by Indian standards - mind you, we've got a lot of Indians and their former neighbours in the West Riding cities.

      Nice to see you drop by MG.

    • emge profile image

      MG Singh emge 

      16 months ago from Singapore

      You have brought the area alive and despite many visits to England never been to this place. Thank you for creating a lovely image of a place I must visit some time.


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