Yorkshire Dales Walks - Buckden
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
Terry Fletcher follows a favourite walk in the Yorkshire Dales
According to your ability to resist temptation this delightful mid-level stroll around the head of Wharfedale can be the perfect way to walk off the Christmas excesses or turn into one of the county’s most picturesque pub crawls with three classic Dales pubs along the way.
Leave the National Park car park at Buckden by a wooden gate at its northern end and head uphill along a board slanting path which climbs the valley side through Rakes Wood.
At the top continue in the same line, staying beside an intermittent wall until you are above the tiny hamlet of Cray. Look out for a small gate and discreet footpath sign which points the way downhill to the farm buildings clustered around The White Lion. Cross the beck via stepping stones and then pass to the right of the pub.
The track weaves through the buildings before beginning an airy promenade along a broad pastured shelf. As the path heads round the hillside magnificent views open up, first of all down Wharfedale and then into the narrow valley of Langstrothdale.
It passes through scrub woodland and over a narrow footbridge before, all too soon, it reaches the lonely farmhouse of Scar House. Although the present building is Victorian, the site has strong connections to the early Quakers. It was visited by one of the movement’s founding fathers, George Fox, in the 17th century and is the site of a Quaker burial ground. Pass between the house and its outbuildings to take the concreted track which sweeps down to the valley in a series of curves.
It reaches the road by Hubberholme Church, whose squat tower and tiny interior captivated the Bradford-born author J B Priestley, whose ashes are buried there. The church itself dates mostly from the 12th century and has a rare rood loft and a collection of Mouseman furniture.
Cross the bridge over the Wharfe to the second pub, the George, formerly the vicarage for the neighbouring church and still the scene each January of a candle auction to let out church land. Bids end not with the drop of a hammer but the dying of the flame.
From the George take the narrow road down the dale for about half a mile before the path escapes through a gate on the left to follow the river back to Buckden and the third pub of our route, the Buck.
Parking: National Park pay and display car park at Buckden.
Distance: 5 miles.
Time: 2-3 hours (pub stops not included).
Terrain: Clear paths but can be muddy and slippery after rain. One steep climb at the start and a steep descent to Cray.
Refreshments: Cray, Hubberholme and Buckden.