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Yorkshire Dales Walk - Burnsall and Linton

PUBLISHED: 09:03 19 September 2017 | UPDATED: 16:41 14 August 2018

The River Wharfe near Linton Falls

The River Wharfe near Linton Falls

Terry Fletcher

Saunter along riverside paths from the Dales village of Burnsall

Burnsall aerial view by Janet WrightBurnsall aerial view by Janet Wright

Few villages anywhere can live up to their nicknames quite as well as Bonny Burnsall. Small wonder that the attractive community, which boasts a graceful Victorian five-arch bridge by the village green, and is overlooked by Burnsall Fell and Simon’s Seat, is a popular spot with walkers and picnickers alike. This undemanding walk – at times little more than a riverside stroll – sets off from the bridge and then accompanies the sparkling Wharfe upstream, taking in some of its loveliest sections on the way to Grassington and the dramatic cataracts of Linton Falls before breaking away to visit the hidden hamlet of Thorpe-in-the-Hollow. Tucked away between the low hills and aloof from the main valley, it is said this proved a haven, keeping locals and livestock, safe from marauding Scottish raiders, notably after Robert the Bruce’s victory at Bannockburn in 1314. The would-be plunderers passed by, completely unaware of its existence. Even today it is an oasis of peace when the rest of Wharfedale may be bursting at the seams.


1. From the village green, take the signposted path, part of the Dales Way long distance route, down the side of the Red Lion Hotel and walk upstream on a clear hardened path beside the river, soon passing the small limestone outcrop of Loup Scar on the opposite bank. Carry on clinging to the banks of the Wharfe until reaching the distinctive suspension bridge at Hebden. For centuries people crossed on stepping stones but in 1885, after a man drowned, the suspension bridge was built by a local blacksmith using recycled material from the lead mines on the moors above. When the river is low there is still the option of using old stepping stones. Whichever you choose, press on upstream now on the opposite bank beneath a row of horse chestnuts which make a magnificent sight, especially in early autumn.

Footpath between Burnsall and Linton by Dave ReynoldsFootpath between Burnsall and Linton by Dave Reynolds

2. The route crosses a series of pastures, still sticking close to the water until the tiny Linton Church appears ahead and the path reaches a rather less picturesque sewage plant. Here another set of stepping stones crosses the river and could be used to shorten the walk. The main track, however, goes rightwards through a gate to pass cottages and a fish farm before taking a stile on the left to rejoin the river, which is followed across more fields to Linton Falls. After rain when the river is in spate, the Wharfe plunges over limestone ledges with a thunderous roar which must make those in the adjoining houses fear for their foundations.

3. A narrow enclosed and flagged path climbs rightwards to Grassington if you want a mid-way stop. The large car park on the edge of the village also provides an alternative starting point. However, the route goes left across the footbridge and then follows the path round the cottages to a lane. Go left along this to the church with its unusual stunted tower. Beyond the churchyard the path reaches the stepping stones passed earlier. Do not cross but instead turn right downstream to cross a wall and climb diagonally up the bank to pass above a wood. At the top, go half right across two fields to reach a road. Cross over to take the signed path to Thorpe Lane. The track climbs the fields and then enters a narrow walled green lane before joining the tarmacked lane. Turn left along this and follow it all the way to Thorpe.

4. As well as its mediaeval history the hamlet had a part to play in a more modern act of Dales skulduggery in April 1992 when the ‘Cobblers of Thorpe’ – named after the trade that once thrived there – relieved their neighbours in Burnsall of a 65ft tall maypole as it lay waiting to be erected. They carried their trophy home and put it up on their own green. After putting up with much gloating, Burnsall eventually restored village pride by mounting their own retaliatory midnight raid and recovered the prize.

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By the village green fork left. As you leave the houses take a signposted green lane on the right signed to Burnsall. At its end go through the marked gate and follow the well-signed path down the valley passing a wood and crossing meadows with the rocky tor of Simon’s Seat on the skyline ahead. When the path meets another unsurfaced lane cross straight over using a couple of stiles and the houses of Burnsall soon come into sight ahead, albeit with numerous more stiles to clamber over on the way.


Start/finish: Burnsall

Distance: 6.5miles/10.5km

Ascent: 230ft/70m

Terrain: Riverside and field paths, quiet lane

Time: 3 hours

Parking: Small car parks or roadside in Burnsall. Alternative start at Grassington

Refreshments: Cafés and pubs at Burnsall and Grassington

Map: OS OL2 Yorkshire Dales South and West

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