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Looking back over Kettlewell from the start of our climb
Looking back over Kettlewell from the start of our climb

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Route No 146 - Wednesday 6 July 2005
Kettlewell, Conistone, Dales Way circuit - 13km
Wharfedale

Map OS Explorer OL30 Yorkshire Dales Northern & Central areas at 1:25000
Route Map on 'Landranger' map base from OS Open Space service
Open this route in Google Earth

Kettlewell
Kettlewell
Over the last few days the weather has turned cold and wet and gloomy, but a careful examination of the forecast suggested that we may just miss the heavy showers if we did a walk in the western part of the dales. So this morning we drove to Kettlewell in Warfedale (the car park there is £3 for all day). We set off at about 10.30am to walk through the village on the right hand side of the beck that flows into the River Wharfe. We followed the road alongside the beck to map ref. SD 974724 where the tarmac road ends to become astoney track. We took the right hand fork in the track up a steep slope. We followed a bridleway up the stoney track and then up a springy green track for almost 2km to map ref. SD991726 where the bridleway ends at the intake wall onto the moor. We went through the gate onto the moor and turned right to follow a footpath behind the wall climbing up for another 500m to a little knoll with a series of limestone cairns on top. All the way up the climb of about 400m the view over Wharfedale had been building and we sat by the cairns, glad to be at the top and ready to admire the view whist we had a drink and a sandwich.
After our break we continued on the path next to the wall for just over 2km. to map ref. SE 002700. Every few hundred metres we disturbed flocks of rooks and jackdaws from the wet coarse grassland below us and we wondered what food source supported so many birds in this harsh upland landscape. We concluded that it must be huge numbers of invertibrates in the grassland supplemented by a few dead sheep. The views from this path were magnificent all the way along. Ahead of us in the misty distance was the unmistakable shape of Pendle Hill and behind us was Wharfedale winding away into the distance beyond Buckden Pike. We followed the path back through a gate in the wall passing the trig point to our right and began the descent across a series of fields to a walled track at map ref. SD 997686.
Wild Thyme beside the path
Wild Thyme beside the path
Looking back over Wharfedale as we climbed higher up towards the moor
Looking back over Wharfedale as we climbed higher up towards the moor
Green track climbing up towards the moor
Green track climbing up towards the moor
The track led us down to a cleft through the limestone pavement above Conistone Dib (a limestone gorge). By the entrance to the Dib we came to the Dales Way at map ref. SD 992682. Here we turned right to follow the Dales Way for about 5km back to Kettlewell. For the first 2km. the path goes below a limestone cliff and we came across a small flock of about half a dozen oyster catchers sitting in a row on top of a drystone wall at the top of the cliff. I had just taken a photo of them (right at the limit of my little camera) when a kestrel cam into view gliding on the wind over the cliffs. Imediately the oyster catchers took off to mount an attack on the bird of prey and all disappeared from sight over the hill above us. A little further on our luck ran out and we saw a heavy shower heading for us down Warfedale. It arrived in a couple of minutes but we had had time to get out waterproofs on. It only lasted about 10 minutes and the wind soon dried us out afterwards.
The Dales Way took us passed Scargill House which turned out to be a religeous retreat centre. As we were passing the drive a group ofvicars came dashing out to walk into Kettlewell - they'ed been let off retreating for a couple of hours. a few minutes later another vicar (his parish turned out to be near Dundee) caught us up and we had quite an interesting chat until we reached the dales way turn at map ref. SD 974714 where he carried on to catch up his colleagues and we went across the fields to avoid the road walking. It was a bad choice - there are 12 high drystone walls each with a three step stone stile and tiny spring-loaded gate on top. This was just what my dodgy old knees did not need at the end of a days walk. The whole route had been about 13km and had taken us just over 4 hours including a couple of stops. The scenery was magnificent all the way round and we finished off the day with our usual visit to the tea shop opposite the car park in Kettlewell.
Group of limestone cairns as we reached the top of our climb
Group of limestone cairns as we reached the top of our climb
View looking towards Pendle Hill
View looking towards Pendle Hill
View looking back up Wharfedale
View looking back up Wharfedale
View looking back up Wharfedale
View looking back up Wharfedale
Hardy Swaledale ewes and lambs
Hardy Swaledale ewes and lambs
The start of our descent towards Conistone
The start of our descent towards Conistone
Limestone pavement above the entrance to Conistone Dib
Limestone pavement above the entrance to Conistone Dib
We turn onto the Dales Way
We turn onto the Dales Way
The Dales Way heading back towards Kettlewell
The Dales Way heading back towards Kettlewell
Kilnsey Crag from the dales way
Kilnsey Crag from the dales way
Oyster catchers above the dales way
Oyster catchers above the dales way
The Dales Way heading back towards Kettlewell
The Dales Way heading back towards Kettlewell
Dales way descending to the road near Scargill House
Dales way descending to the road near Scargill House
Bird's foot trefoil by the path
Bird's foot trefoil by the path
You can sometimes wait years for roadside assistance
You can sometimes wait years for roadside assistance