First published in: The Times Click here to view a map for this walk in a new window
Low cloud was swirling clear of the fell tops along Wharfedale as we set out from Grassington. The village was packed, as busy as ever, but ten minutes put us high above the stone-built houses on a path rising through sheep pastures to the walled track of Edge Lane, where no-one came or went.
The narrow squeeze stiles between the fields were each sealed with a tiny wicket gate on a powerful spring that shut smartly behind us with a rat trap snap. Nothing was more reminiscent of our former walks in this delectable dale than that sharp ‘crack’ of wood on stone – though the hinges have been modernised since the days when they were bodged from the soles of discarded rubber boots.
Wharfedale ran away north-west, exuding its habitual aura of peace and plenty, neat green fields walled with stone barns dotted here and there, the gently ‘inbye’ grazing rising to wild moorland tops with rugged profiles, and a far view of Pendle Hill’s broad back some 25 miles off in Lancashire.
Pine trees sighed in the wind around Wise House. Across the cleft of Hebden Beck the ground rose abruptly, too steep for farming, a jumble of red-brown bracken and pale grey rocks fallen from the scars or gritstone cliffs at the rim of the valley.
Down at Hole Bottom we teetered across Hebden Beck’s slippery stepping stones, collecting a boot full of beck water apiece. Scale Haw Force’s waterfall crashed down its rock steps just upstream, a fine noisy spectacle.
A steep climb through meadows led to a zigzag path up through the coarse gritstone rocks of Scale Haw where we came upon a large sleepy slow worm, the smooth bronze belly distended with its latest meal.
A blasting wind up at Scar Top, a puzzling scramble down hard-to-read paths on a bracken slope, and we were threading the walled lanes of Hebden towards the green and level homeward path beside the peat-brown River Wharfe.
How hard is it? 6½ miles; a moderate walk by field and fell paths; rough going just below Scar Side House
Start: Grassington National Park Centre car park, BD23 5LB (OS ref SE 003637)
Getting there: Bus 72 (Skipton-Buckden)
Road – on B6265 Wharfedale road.
Walk (OS Explorer OL2): Left into village; right (Hebden Road); in 200m right (Low Lane, High Lane). In 250m, left (006640, gate, yellow arrow/YA). Field path (stiles, YAs) to Edge Lane (013641). Right, in 550m, at gate, left (017638, ‘Hebden Gill’). Just before High Garnshaw, right (020643, gate), down fields to drive (022642), down to Hole Bottom (024641). Right along drive. In 200m, left (024639, fingerpost/FP ‘Edge Top’) to cross Hebden Beck by stepping stones (NB: if beck swollen, return to drive, left to Hebden).
From stepping stones, right along opposite bank. In 250m grassy track rises to gate (025637). Either continue parallel to Hebden Beck to cross B6265 in Hebden (see last paragraph below); or to continue this route, don’t go through gate, but turn left uphill along wall. Near top, bear left to wicket gate (026639). Grassy path up through rocks to Scar Top House (028639). Right (FP) to cross drive, stiles, FPs to pass Scar Side House (028637). Down through bracken (Access Lane = a bit of a scramble – pick your own path!) to stile/wicket gate at bottom (027635). Next gate, fields and FPs down to cross B6265 in Hebden (026632).
Ahead down road, in 150m, left (027630, kissing gate, FP); follow ‘Suspension Bridge’ beside Hebden Beck to road (027624). Right; in 150m left (‘Dales Way’ FP). Right along Dales Way for 1½ miles to Linton Falls (001634); right (FP) to car park.
Conditions: Hebden Beck is crossed by stepping stones. Slope below Scar Side is steep and scrambly in places – for adventurous walkers!