George Wilkinson enjoys an Indian Summer walk in Arkengarthdale.

This is the last of my three walks in Arkengarthdale, a place I can recommend. The dale is a distance from York, that's why I did it in a midweek-break/saver fashion. Three days of glorious Indian Summer made it extra special, though since then the weather has seamlessly faded into classic sharp autumn, perfect for walking.

Langthwaite is the largest settlement in the dale, but not large, the Red Lion and a dozen or so tightly packed cottages. A minute later and we had left them behind as we followed the sparkle of Arkle Beck. To start with the valley feels small scale, the agriculture also, as a farmer scythed thistles.

Our track entered a wood, and then came a lovely little treat, a fragile treasure, where there was a spring, a romantic ruin, and a patch coated with thick moss like a Japanese Zen Garden. Keep dogs and children off the moss, or take them through the spooky old tunnel that bypasses this.

Either way you emerge to a dramatically expanded landscape. The bare steepness of Fremington Edge loomed high above, hard edged and struck with crags.

After a further length of idyllic beck and dappled sunlight we cut back through a pretty farm and found a place to sit and enjoy the view and watch a farmer repair a drystone wall.

That done, we set off up a side valley occupied by Slei Gill. One could see that Slei Gill could rush wide and roaring. But after a long dry spell it was but a crystal thread in a river of rock. More rock tumbles from gaps, coats the slopes, is arranged in ribbons of wall, is exposed by "hushes" and piled up in heaps. Sounds grim? Not in the sunlight. Each boulder is covered and coloured by half a dozen species of lichen from white through green to black. And separating the rock zones are old paths of the smoothest perfect turf. After a while we got to a place where there are waterfalls and we ate our baguettes (many thanks to the CB Inn). Further upstream the water is charmingly named Slack Wife Gill - a pleasure for a longer summer walk sometime. A wheatear with white eyebrow and orange bib perched nearby, robin shaped, hardly larger, soon to fly to Africa. Reluctantly we returned, watched a pair of raptors chase a small bird round and round an old stone barn, saw the Hunger House sheepfold, and headed off for Booze where there is no drink but heady views and a friendly farmer and a back lane back to Langthwaite.


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

1. Right from car park, first right into Langthwaite village, first right to riverside bridleway track.

2. In woods, right fork downhill (footpath sign). At small ruin, right (sign), 50 yards, left to riverside path. Squeezer into field, continue by river.

3. Ahead of a fieldgate and beside footbridge to right over Arkle Beck, about turn then 1 o'clock across field to gateway, cross field, walled track, fieldgate, pass house, fieldgate, pass house, footbridge and left to track, 200 yards uphill.

4. Three-way junction (signpost). (For short route: Stay on track, through nearby fieldgate and downhill to rejoin outward route at Direction No. 2.) Otherwise, path on right, becomes fine grassy track up side-valley. Skirt to left of spoil heaps above beck.

5. At end of "field" (gateway and wall partly built on craggy outcrops, river has cascades below), turn around to track 1 o'clock uphill, pass ruined house, loop through workings, mostly contouring but some gentle climbing.

6. Near arched tunnel 50 yards to right (beside stream), continue along grassy track which now has ruined wall to right, turns to stony track by fields, fieldgate into Booze, track then tarmac lane back to Langthwaite.

Fact file

Distance: Short route 2 miles, longer route less than four.

Time: Longer route two to three hours.

General Location: The north of the Dales National Park.

Start: The village of Langthwaite.

Right of way: The complete routes are on public rights of way.

Date walked: Thursday 18 September 2002.

Road route: Via A1, Richmond and Reeth.

Car parking: Pay & Display Car Park.

Lavatories: Near church.

Refreshments: Red Lion at Langthwaite. CB Inn nearby.

Tourist and public transport Information: Reeth TIC 01748 884059.

Map: Based on OS Explorer OL30 Yorkshire Dales Northern and Central Areas.

Terrain: Riverside and side-valley.

Points of interest: There is a tradition of baking "Lovefeast Loaves" hereabouts. Hushes are grooves in hillsides where the lead was washed out by controlled flooding.

Difficulty: The short route is easy, the longer is moderate.

Dogs: Suitable.

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: 09:15 Saturday, October 12, 2002