George Wilkinson thanks two lords, one of them a bridge, as he finds a way through at Preston-under-Scar.

PRESTON-under-Scar is a village near Leyburn in Wensleydale, a line of houses on an elevated contour on the south-facing flank of the valley, where the valley is wide.

Jackdaws slid down into lower mists, a roofer hacked at a cold chimney, we took a pasture into a wood of birch and the natural pleasures of twisting streams, fresh honeysuckle and banks of tough sedge.

Within a minute or two, the interest is manmade. Stonework arches over a lead mine entrance. Also in stone is the broken line of an 18th century flue channel that is the longest in Yorkshire, hugging the ground for two miles, to take the toxic lead fumes to the top of the moors.

Nearby, at the southern edge of the wood, are a semi-subterranean steam engine house and a 70ft chimney.

This mine could yield more than 1,000 tons of lead a year. The chimney is now writhed by ivy, the scene is gothic, child-swallowing spooky.

We crossed the local railway line and on to the lower slopes of the valley, to a huge parkland pasture. Around the edge is a gallop and two racehorse thundered by.

Penhill was in cloud. A driveway took us to a fancy gatehouse and to Wensley and its Three Horseshoes Inn.

Romantics have other options here. Either sandwiches in the memorial garden to the splash of a waterfall. Or visit The White Rose candle workshop, where there are dipping machines involving bicycle wheels.

But wax is heavy and some candles are fragile, so we retired to the aforementioned inn where the beer is from the Wensleydale Brewery. The wafting smell of lunches made me regret my sandwiches.

Set up, we had a peek at the church, gazed at the wide River Ure from Wensley Bridge and set off along the riverside. The water sparkled for the mile, the banks flowered with violets, wood anemones and primrose.

Then we had to cross the river and the only way is Lords Bridge. So imagine our concern at a tree trunk barring the way and on it a sign reading No unauthorised persons beyond this point'.

Don't worry, the trunk is to stop cars. The mid pier of the bridge took a recent hit', but Lord Bolton says that his bridge is perfectly safe. It's fine for you to walk over, though he thought perhaps "not if the river in flood", and anyway at "your own risk". He adds "enjoy yourself".

We did, strolled through the parkland, a soft spring light on the 40 windows of Bolton Hall, the daffodils ablaze. When you are past the hall and the estate yards, it's eyes right for an interesting stone barn.

Then, nearly done, look left and right at the railway line. We thought was that a loco hoot? Don't put your ear to the rails in cowboy style. Another hoot, louder still, and eventually a Wensleydale Railway train made slow and stately procession.

The company has 17 miles of track, its slogan is "Great Service, Great Scenery!" Most useful for linear walks.

A good day rescued - thanks for Lords Bridge, your Lordship.


When in doubt look at the map. Check your position at each point. Keep straight on unless otherwise directed.

1. Road east through village, right fork on bend, 200 yards, track on left (signed), 25 yards, fieldgate and cross field near wall to right then 11 o'clock after a kink to squeezer into wood.

2. Path through woods. Footbridge, cross stream, slab footbridge, path curves up 100 yards, right at T-junction and over mine opening (waymarked post), 50 yards, loop left uphill (waymarked post), 200 yards.

3. Right to track at edge of woods downhill. From bend at farm, straight on to grassy track across field by wall to right to fieldgate. Track downhill. Right at junction after mine remains, cross road, cross field.

4. Stile, cross railway line, gate, 1 o'clock across field to gate, left to road (some verge). Path on right into wood (signed), 25 yards, cross track, becomes track, cattlegrid/fieldgate.

5. Left before cattlegrid into garden, 50 yards, gate on right (waymark), 100 yards, gate and 10 o'clock across park. Fieldgate and left to drive.

6. In Wensley, EITHER left for pub and adjacent garden, candles and waterfall; OR right to road (pavement), bridge over River Ure and immediately path on right (signed) to riverside path. About 200 yards before Lords Bridge path angles up to stile/old gate, right, cross field, gateway/squeezer.

7. Right to drive and bridge over river. Ignore a right after Bolton Hall, take next right 100 yards before a house. Cross road, onto house drive (signed), steps and path to gate (waymark), cross field.

8. Cross gated railway line, 11 o'clock uphill to squeezer to left of shed, 11 o'clock uphill to path to left of last house on right (fingerpost).

Fact file

Distance: Five miles.

Time: Two or three hours.

General location: The Yorkshire Dales.

Start: Preston-under-Scar.

Right of way: Public except for Lords Bridge.

Map: Drawn from OS Explorer OL30 Yorkshire Dales northern and central areas.

Dogs: Legal.

Date walked: March, 2007.

Road route: From York via A1.

Car parking: Roadside in village.

Lavatories: None.

Refreshments: Inn at Wensley.

Tourist and public transport information: Leyburn TIC 01969 623069. Wensleydale Railway 0845 50 54 74 and Terrain: Valley.

Points of interest: Bolton Castle nearby.

Difficulty: Quite easy.

Please observe the Country Code and park sensibly. While every effort is made to provide accurate information, walkers set out at their own risk.

Map of the walk>>