West Yorkshire walk - Bramhope and Otley Chevin
PUBLISHED: 00:00 13 December 2017
Credit: Park Dale / Alamy Stock Photo
Stretch your legs on this gentle walk not far from the centre of Leeds.
It can be hard to get out for a decent walk during the all-too-brief daylight hours of mid-winter so this short and accessible outing onto the escarpment overlooking the lower Wharfe Valley is ideal for the shortest days around the Solstice. Although it is virtually on the doorstep of our largest conurbation and just a few miles from Leeds city centre it has a surprisingly rural feel and breathtaking views.
The route begins in the attractive village of Bramhope and initially follows field paths out into open country before a gentle meander through the trees of Otley Chevin Forest Park. This woodland, once part of the Danefield Estate, is now managed by Leeds City Council and has been designated a nature reserve for almost 30 years. Quiet walkers are often rewarded with a close encounter with the resident deer population so it is small wonder that the park is popular with all kinds of outdoors enthusiasts from naturalists and geo-cachers to horse riders, mountain bikers, walkers, runners, rock climbers and picnickers.
1. From the village hall car park turn right along the road and at the sports field take a signed public footpath on the left which leads out of the village towards open fields. When it reaches a farm gate across the track take a narrow path on the right to follow a sunken way that bypasses the buildings. At the end a stile leads into a field which is crossed diagonally leftwards to another stile in the far corner. The now well-waymarked path crosses a procession of stiles and a series of pastures given over mainly to grazing ponies, to reach a lane.
The mixed nature of the walk becomes even more apparent with the appearance of the parked jets at Leeds/Bradford airport and from time to time the birdsong is drowned out by the angrier growl of these ‘birds’ clawing their way into the skies.
2. At the lane, turn left but within 100 yards take a stile and gate on the right heading towards a small wood. When the track reaches Otley Old Road cross straight over into Green Gates Farm. At the far end of the farm buildings fork right, following waymarkers over a stile and down to the bottom of the field, whose edge is followed rightwards making towards the Harrogate-Bradford road, crossing a stile midway.
3. Take care crossing this often busy road and then take a few paces rightwards along the verge to reach an iron kissing gate on the left. This quickly leads into fields and the road noise is soon left behind. At Home Farm pass between the buildings and go up the lane to enter East Carlton. When the lane meets the main road through the village on a bend carry on straight ahead and follow it leftwards round a corner. Opposite a junction on the left take a signed path through a gate on the right leading away across fields to the distant trees of the York Gate plantation.
4. When the path enters the plantation it heads leftwards just inside the edge of the wood. until it emerges on a broad track leading quickly down to the tarmac of York Gate -‘gate’ here, as often in the North, meaning a road, not an entrance. (The right of way marked on the map as heading directly through the wood does not seem to exist on the ground). Cross straight over taking the signed path to Miller Lane. As you descend the character of the walk changes and at a T-junction the Lower Wharfe Valley opens out below with views to the distant hills and the prominent rocky tor of Almscliffe Crag on the skyline.
5. Turn right down the rough track to reach East Chevin Road by Danefield House. Again cross straight over to a path which curls rightwards up into the trees. When it reaches a car park with multiple paths radiating from it take the broad one signed ‘Bridleway Dales Way Link‘. After dropping into a dip and crossing a bridge follow it as it curves rightwards past a clearing. The path passes a white painted trig point almost hidden in the trees on the left.
6. Where the track forks by the carving of an old woodman take the left hand branch along the narrow track into the trees. At a T-junction go rightwards to a wall which is then followed leftwards along the top of the plantation. As it leaves the trees the path enters an enclosed way with yet more extensive views. When it reaches the Harrogate road again cross with care and take a footpath almost directly opposite leading between houses into open fields. This final section is through another succession of pastures on a waymarked path which leads back to the lane into Bramhope, which is followed leftwards back to the car park.
Terrain: Field and woodland tracks, multiple stiles and two busy roads to cross
Parking: Small public car park in Bramhope at the village hall
Refreshments: Pub in Bramhope
Map: OS Explorer 297 Lower Wharfedale and Washburn Valley