THE section of riverside walking along the River Wharfe is rightly popular but the walk is much improved by visits to four of the most attractive villages in the Dales; Thorpe, Linton, Burnsall and Hebden.
Start at the National Park Car Park in Grassington and join a path at the southern end of the car park heading directly downhill to the river. The two step falls are in fact the highest on the River Wharfe which is odd as it really is not very high.
However, standing on the bridge (incarnation four) after heavy rains is an impressive sight. Turn right after the bridge, through the houses and joining a minor road heading uphill. Cross a second road and carry on in to the village of Linton. Dominated by the village green and Fountaine Inn it is popular in summer but worth visiting all year. Have a look at the Palladian style almhouse built to house the village poor in 1721.
Keep to the east of the stream and walk south to a footpath heading through the houses and uphill on to open fields. The path climbs south east for over half a mile past two copses until arriving at a stile leading in to walled Thorpe Lane.
Turn left and follow the lane for a further half mile in to the quiet village of Thorpe. It is another pretty village, decked in classic Yorkshire stone. Take the quiet road leading east from the village for 200 metres and then a footpath on your right.
For the next mile the footpath passes through fields of sheep with excellent views over the River Wharfe and valley and on to the moors further north. Only a minor beck and a farm track interrupt the walk although there are a number of stone stiles as you cross the fields.
Burnsall is the third village and is picture perfect, set as it is overlooking the River Wharfe. An interesting church, a wonderful Grade 1 Primary School (used to be the grammar school) and excellent pub are the highlights and it is worth dawdling on the riverside, particularly if you have bought a picnic.
The return to Grassington is along the riverside path. It starts under the road bridge on the southern bank. Follow the winding path for one mile to a suspension footbridge and cross to the northern bank.
At this stage you can carry on alongside the river to Grassington over two miles away. However another attractive village, Hebden, lies a few hundred metres to the north, up a quiet road. There is evidence of a settlement here since the Bronze Ages although today the most noticeable monument if the yellow phone box, signifying Andrew Tiggs Hodge rowing gold in the 2012 Olympics.
The village Hall is a more traditional building in this historic village. Return to the river bank and continue west along the northern bank, through some woods and fields before taking the lane at a crook in the river leading in to Grassington.
* Fact Box:
Distance: Roughly eight miles
Height to Climb: 260m (850 feet)
Start: SE 003637. Large National Park car park.
Difficulty: Easy/Medium. Good paths or farm tracks, the short pull out of Linton is the most challenging section.
Refreshments: There is a café or pub at nearly every turn (except Thorpe). The difficulty is keeping out and completing the walk.
Be Prepared: The route description and sketch map only provide a guide to the walk. You must take out and be able to read a map (O/S Explorer 2) and in cloudy/misty conditions a compass (essential on this walk). You must also wear the correct clothing and footwear for the outdoors. Whilst every effort is made to provide accurate information, walkers head out at their own risk.
* Jonathan Smith runs Where2walk, a walking company based in the Yorkshire Dales.
He has published three books on walks in the Dales; ‘The Yorkshire 3 Peaks’, ‘The Dales 30’ mountains and the New ‘Walks without Stiles’ book. All are available direct from the Where2walk website.
Book a Navigation Training day in Long Preston, near Settle (Beginners or ‘Compass & Contours’) Dates and further information are available on the website.
Where2walk.co.uk also features hundreds of walks across Yorkshire and beyond, from easy strolls to harder climbs.