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The River Wharfe above Bolton Bridge
The River Wharfe above Bolton Bridge

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Route No. 174 - Good Friday 14 April 2006
Blubberhouses to Bolton Abbey
via Rocking Hall - 15km
(Dales Way Link) Yorkshire Dales . . .

Maps: OS Explorer 297 Lower Wharfedale at 1:25000
Route Map on 'Landranger' base from OS Open Space service


The cricket field beside the river Washburn at Blubberhouses
The cricket field beside the river Washburn at Blubberhouses
My wife and I had arranged to meet two friends at Bolton Bridge (map ref. SE 071529) this morning at around 10.30 There are spaces for 9 cars if people park carefully but this morning there were already 7 cars there blocking all the spaces. We had planned to leave one car there and return to Blubberhouses in the other to do a linear walk back to Bolton Bridge, it's about 15km. As we debated our next move a cyclist appeared and put his bike into the boot of one of the parked cars and drove off, so we put our car into the vacant space and we all drove to Blubberhouses in our friend's car.
Path beside the river Washburn
Path beside the river Washburn
Path beside the river Washburn
Path beside the river Washburn
Path beside the river Washburn
Path beside the river Washburn
Old mill pond next to the river Washburn
Old mill pond next to the river Washburn

Thruscross dam in the distance from the Washburn valley
Thruscross dam in the distance from the Washburn valley

We crossed the river and climbed up the hillside on a public footpath for about 1.5km to a minor road at map ref. SE 143566. At the road we turned right and followed the road for about 400m before turning left off the road on to the track to Spittle Ings House.

We parked in the car park at the head of Fewston Reservoir, map ref. SE 168553. We set off across the main road (A59) and took the permissive footpath upstream along the east bank of the river Washburn heading towards Thruscross reservoir. After about 2km, with the Thruscross dam in sight, we reached a footbridge over the river at map ref. SE 157568.

Brandrith Crags reputed to be the site of ancient druid sacrifices
Brandrith Crags reputed to be the site of ancient druid sacrifices

Moorland farm as we climbed out of the Washburn valley
Moorland farm as we climbed out of the Washburn valley
Track passing Renshaw Hall above the Washburn valley
Track passing Renshaw Hall above the Washburn valley
Our first refreshment stop near Renshaw Hall
Our first refreshment stop near Renshaw Hall with Brandrith Crags in the distance
Looking north west over Rocking Moor
Looking north west over Rocking Moor
Swaledale ewes on Rocking Moor
Swaledale ewes on Rocking Moor
Looking east as we climbed Rocking Moor - The golfball domes of Menwith Hill are just visible on the horizon
Looking back east as we climbed Rocking Moor - The golfball domes of Menwith Hill are just visible on the horizon
Rocking Hall

We continued along the track beyond Spittle Ings House for about 3km climbing steadily up the moor to Rocking Hall and the Rocking Stone at map ref. SE 110578. The whole moor is open access land with amazing panoramic views to The North York Moors over to the north east and the golfball domes of Menwith Hill to the east. We sat on the steps of Rocking Hall for some lunch and checked the rocking stone, but it definitely does not rock. From Rocking Hall we followed the track heading roughly south west down the moor for about 4km, into Wharfedale, to Bolton Park Farm, map ref. SE 080555.

Left: Rocking Hall

The erroded top of the rocking stone

Left : The eroded top of the rocking stone
Below: The Rocking Stone

The Rocking Stone

Looking towards Simon's Seat as we started the descent to Bolton Abbey
Looking towards Simon's Seat as we started the descent to Bolton Abbey
Looking towards Simon's Seat as we started the descent to Bolton Abbey
Looking towards Simon's Seat as we started the descent to Bolton Abbey
The River Wharfe at the Cavendish Pavillion cafe
The River Wharfe at the Cavendish Pavillion cafe
A dead tree trunk studded with coins that people have hammered in as a good luck token
Tree trunk studded with coins that people have hammered in for good luck
The stepping stones submerged by the high river flow at Bolton Abbey
The stepping stones submerged by the high river flow at Bolton Abbey

Bolton Abbey
Bolton Abbey

We walked to the bridge opposite the cafe, map ref. SE 077553, and took the path along the eastern river bank heading downstream towards Bolton Abbey. It was just over 1km to the stepping stones and footbridge at Bolton Abbey. Here we crossed the river and continued south on the western bank of the river for another kilometer or so to Bolton Bridge where we had left our car.

Even though it was a bank holiday we had seen very few people until we reached this part of the walk. Suddenly we were in one of the dales hot spots with people everywhere. It's a very pretty and interesting area with the Cavendish Pavillion cafe, the Strid and Strid Woods, the river and Bolton Abbey itself with the stepping stones across the river.

River Wharfe - heading for Bolton Bridge
River Wharfe - heading for Bolton Bridge

Bolton Abbey
Bolton Abbey
Bolton Bridge at the end of our walk

We put all our gear into the car boot and then crossed the road to the Tea rooms for our traditional cup of tea and toasted teacake to end our walk. We had only been sat down for a few minutes when the young women running the place put the closed sign on the door to keep out any new customers, and began clearing up. It was 4.00pm on a bank holiday with many people around, probably like us thinking about a cup of tea before setting off home. Our walk had been about 15km and had taken us almost 5 hours to walk including our refreshment stops.

Left: Bolton Bridge at the end of our walk