J B Priestley wrote in his English Journey: 'We reached Buckden, towards the head of the Dale, and a notable goal for Bradfordians, who have emptied the barrels at the inn there many a time...'. Seventy years later there were 30 cars in the Upper Wharfedale car park, but we had our eye on the weather not on pints.

A steady stream of walkers was going up and down the main route to Buckden Pike. We set off the other way and gently traversed the valley flank. After a while, the route doubles back, so there are views both ways along the dale, and just now, a harvest-time enhancement of the patchwork fields fitted into the curves of the river.

We walked on turf sparkling with flowers, especially the wild thyme. There were no walkers, but a family of black rabbits; a buzzard cruised. At an altitude of 1,400ft we had to decide on the route, up to the Pike, or down to Starbotton and the river. The sun was shining, we climbed. Large dales hills started to rise above the Wharfedale horizon. At 1,800ft we reached an arched lead mine entrance. Peer into this for its good complement of ferns.

Buckden village is framed nicely here in the 'V' of a side valley. There is a track down but I do not know its status or condition. The last 500 feet are quite steep, and are a permissive link only marked on the new maps. A golden plover announced the summit, a few steps more and we could see the trig point, a minute later we were there.

This is my 300th walk for the Evening Press, so it was great to stand there and survey the territory of so many walks. We could see to the Lake District.

The way down has received heavy reinforcement for the first and steep 400 feet, it is worth having a trekking pole for slithery gravelled stretches. After that it is grass, a couple of boggy bits and though the path forks in the open access area you can see the route line for a mile.

A large owl (short eared I think) hunted and there was an abundance of plump National Trust rabbits and beautiful drifts of cotton grass. A curlew echoed through Wharfedale as we lowered into the warm air of the valley and we were just saying that we hadn't met a single walker all day when in the last 100 yards we crossed two lads going out onto the hills as the night was looming.

We are happy to point out that Caf Terrington is open on Sundays, not closed as stated in the walk fact file last week. We apologise for the error.


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

1. From far (north) end of car park, gates to track (National Trust sign), 20 yards, right (signed to Starbotton/ Buckden Lead Mine). Right at stream, 50 yards, stepping stones, left on path/track which soon swings right and gently climbs.

2. Gateway with stone posts either side, grassy track curves up and left within field then uphill by wall to left (waymarks), cross stream and uphill by wall to left (ignore ladderstile 200 yards away on right), 200 yards, stay by wall to left (3-way signpost), 50 yards, right as path/track 's' bends up then curves left.

3. Track passes yellow-tipped post at walls junction, immediately step through remains of old sheepfold, ten yards, stile on right and immediately left by wall. Gap at walls junction then path crosses rough grassland.

4. At lead mine, grassy path/track loops left by mine entrance, 100 yards, right uphill (wall left, yellow-tipped posts), 50 yards, path on right that angles uphill (posts) and continues across rough pasture after passing near a stone wall field corner.

5. Stile/gated squeezer at the top and left, 150 yards. Ladderstile (to trig point), 100 yards north with wall right to gravel and stepped path steep downhill.

6. Fork left away from wall to grassy path across several rough pasture fields (bridleway sign), downhill.

7. At junction with stone track, left down to Buckden (fieldgate).

Fact file

Distance: Over five miles.

Time: Four to six hours.

General location: Yorkshire Dales National Park.

Start: Buckden.

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

Date walked: Wednesday, July 17, 2002.

Road Route: Via Grassington, Kettlewell and Starbotton.

Car parking: £2 for more than 1 hour.

Lavatories: Car park.

Refreshments: Restaurant/tea room and inn.

Tourist & Public Transport Information: Grassington TIC 01756 752774.

Terrain: The third highest peak in the Dales.

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

Points of interest: Permissive paths and National Trust land.

Difficulty: A climb of 1,500ft to 2,303ft. There are swallow and shake holes and disused shafts. Compass and OS map advisable and essential in poor visibility.

Dogs: Suitable but ground-nesting 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: 09:16 Saturday, July 27, 2002