Kettlewell was as lovely as ever except for a migration of caravans and a pipeline. Rain was forecast from the west, there was a dusting of snow on Great Whernside and we had barely set off down Lovers Lane by the sparkling River Wharfe when, late in the month, we got our April showers - hail, sun, rain, sun, rain, all day. Good training for quick-change artists.

The first riverside mile gave a good view of our climb. One or two stone-walled fields reach up the valley side to a long, thin band of deciduous trees and a slash or two of conifers. Above that, lines of limestone scars.

I last did this ascent for the paper in 1999, a route up to 1,700 feet on Great Whernside. This time, I planned a lower level traverse above the first scars.

We did our 600 feet of climbing and reached our planned turndown point at 1,300 feet but found a notice about an imminent public inquiry concerning the possible eradication of the path. This put the spanner in the works, we had a pow-wow.

Driven higher into lapwing country we reached a spacious terrace, and wandered the springy turf, meandering around the pits and holes that pepper the pastures, skirting scars and outcrops and limestone pavement.

The views are for miles south down Wharfedale past Kilnsey Crag and for miles up the valley to where it forks west into Langstrothdale.

Underfoot, yellow mountain pansies prettied the pasture and indicate that the lime has been leached from the land and indeed on the nearby skyline are darker acidic rocks.

The way down is a smooth diagonal, great for the legs, easygoing mile after mile, but for the stiles. We were pleased to have been diverted on to this route, and I have heard since that the contentious path is very awkward, lacking stiles.

A funnelling together of valleys and streams heralds Kettlewell and we joined these into the village.

At the walking equipment shop we talked to David Greaves, who is soon bringing out a book of walks from Kettlewell. He gave us a preview on the computer and some of his routes did look interesting.


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

1. Bridge by car parks, steps to riverside path (signed Lovers Lane). Stiles and squeezers.

2. Left to walled path, right to road.

3. Stile/fieldgate on left and track uphill (signed Dales Way). Stay on track through wood, stile/fieldgate out of wood and left-hand track uphill.

4. Fieldgate, 20 yards, track swings left uphill, 300 yards, right at rocky area (as wall on left meets another boundary to north) and cross field to but not through wooden fieldgate, 100 yards by wall on right then one o'clock back across field (pass limestone pavement on right), rejoin track which curves up to stile/old gateway in middle of wall ahead, 100 yards (towards gate in wall on horizon).

5. Left (opposite ladderstile 100 yards to your right) and 11 o' clock, i.e. diagonally downhill, on indistinct grassy path for over a mile across pastures, ladderstile to ladderstile, till grassy track joins and runs alongside wall to left.

6. Fieldgate on left, right to dirt track, 200 yards, fieldgate and left downhill and into Grassington.

Fact file

Distance: Five miles.

Time: Three hours.

General location: The Yorkshire Dales National Park.

Start: Kettlewell.

Right of way: The complete route is along public rights of way.

Date walked: Saturday, April 27, 2002.

Road route: Kettlewell is on the B6160 north of Grassington.

Car parking: In field by bridge £1.50, or National Parks car park £2 for more than one hour.

Lavatories: Kettlewell.

Refreshments: Inns and cafs.

Tourist and public transport information: Grassington TIC 01756 752774.

Map: Based on new OS Explorer OL30 Yorkshire Dales northern and central areas.

Terrain: Riverside and valley slope and terrace.

Points of interest: Mountain pansies can be purple, white, yellow or mixed.

Difficulty: Moderate in good visibility, area scattered with pits, pots etc. Steep ladder stiles, 800-foot climb.

Dogs: Suitable, but lambs and birds.

Weather forecast: Evening Press and recorded forecast 0891 500 418.

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

Click here to view a map of the walk

Updated: 09:22 Saturday, May 04, 2002