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See these incredible views from a hill many have seen, but few have climbed

The  trig point and cairn at Beamsley Beacon <i>(Image: Jonathan Smith)</i>
The trig point and cairn at Beamsley Beacon (Image: Jonathan Smith)

Many will have driven past Beamsley Beacon but few will have climbed. Even less will have taken the extended walk starting from Ilkley, crossing the moors and approaching the beacon via the larger mountain of Round Hill.

Park to the north of the River Wharfe at Ilkley. Leave your car near Myddleton Grange (a Grade I religious retreat) and the steep climb up Hardings Lane - it is the steepest walking of the day.

Where the quiet road bends sharply left a wide track continues heading north initially over a stile. After half a mile the track goes through a gate and then carries on for a further half mile, still heading north. To the right are views of March Ghyll Reservoir, one of the smaller reservoirs of the region.

Darlington and Stockton Times: Beamsley Beacon walk map
Darlington and Stockton Times: Beamsley Beacon walk map

At a stile on your right, leave the main track and head alongside a wall for 100m heading north east. Just after a stream, a path to your left resumes its way north to Round Hill. To your left are a set of shooting butts, a clear reflection of the land use of the area. There is a small wooden hut in the stream bed, ideal for shelter on a bad weather shooting day.

Read more: Walk to find the hidden treasures of this stunning Yorkshire Dales tarn

The path carries on up gradual slopes for a further mile to the summit of Round Hill, or what would be the summit if you could get there.

Darlington and Stockton Times: Round Hill on this 9.5 mile walk near Ilkley
Darlington and Stockton Times: Round Hill on this 9.5 mile walk near Ilkley

The highest point is just beyond a barbed wire fence but even though I did explore the area there was no sign of a cairn, somewhere I read it had been destroyed and the stones put in to a nearby shallow river bed.

Climb over a stile to the north side of the fence and join the main grassy ridge linking Round Hill to Beamsley Beacon, a wonderful one-mile panorama with excellent views ahead and to your right. This is the eastern fringe of the National Park and the views over the southern Dales are excellent.

Read more: Unusual dry valleys and a ruined medieval village on this walk with a difference

The track leads to Old Pike and then a few hundred metres further the actual summit of Beamsley Beacon, a wonderful spot. The beacon has largely collapsed in to a very large cairn but the trig point has a plaque attached to it explaining the history of the beacon.

Visit yourself to find the detail but it is thought the history of the beacon stretches all the way to the Bronze Age with the discovery of a lookout fort.

Darlington and Stockton Times: The  trig point and cairn at Beamsley Beacon
Darlington and Stockton Times: The trig point and cairn at Beamsley Beacon

At Beamsley Beacon the path suddenly improves as it descends the half mile slope south west to a road at Beacon House near the hamlet of Langbar. This very obvious path is a result of trippers ticking off the beacon from the nearby road, missing out on the pleasure of the long ridge beyond.

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On reaching the road, turn left and follow the tarmac all the way to Ilkley. It is the best part of three miles to the car, which on many roads the walking would not be pleasant, but here it is.

The road winds its way through some delightful unspoilt farmland, dry stone walls and well-maintained buildings with first Addingham and then Ilkley completing the perfect Dales picture, as they nestle in the valley down below.

Walk facts

Distance: Roughly 9.5 miles.

Height to climb: 430m (1,410 feet).

Start: SE 111485. There is roadside parking near Middleton Lodge. It is possible to park in Ilkley centre but this adds an extra two miles to the day.

Difficulty: Medium/hard. The paths are generally good but can become wet and muddy after rain, particularly on Round Hill.

Refreshments: Ilkley has a large choice of cafes and pubs.

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 297) and in cloudy/misty conditions a compass. 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.

Please observe the Countryside Code and park sensibly.

  • Jonathan Smith runs Where2walk, a walking company based in the Yorkshire Dales. He has published three books on walking in the Dales, The Yorkshire 3 Peaks, The Dales 30 mountains and Walks without Stiles. All these books (and more) are available direct from the Where2walk website. Book a navigation (map and compass skills) training day near Settle (next date October 14) or a bespoke day for a private group. All dates and details are on Where2walk.co.uk, which also features hundreds of walks across Yorkshire and beyond, from easy strolls to harder climbs.