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Our first refreshment stop as we reached the wall on the 510m contour

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Route No. 198 - Saturday 7 October 2006
Kettlewell, Conistone Moor
Dales Way circuit - 14km
Wharfedale
Yorkshire Dales

Map: OS Explorer OL30 Yorkshire Dales Northern & Central areas
and Explorer OL 2 Yorkshire Dales Southern & Western areas
(It's a bit awkward to navigate as the route goes over the join
between these two maps)
Route Map on 'Landranger' base from OS Open Space service
Open this route in Google Earth


Leaving Kettlewell
Leaving Kettlewell

We set off at about 10.30am from map ref. SD 974724 climbing up a steep track for almost 2km to map ref. SD 991726.

At the beginning of each month I usually meet up with a group of friends for a good walk and this morning we met in the car park in Kettlewell.

Starting our climb out of Kettlewell
Starting our climb out of Kettlewell

Cam Head as we climbed up out of Kettlewell
Cam Head as we climbed up out of Kettlewell
Looking over Cam Head to Wharfedale as we climbed out of Kettlewell
Looking over Cam Head to Wharfedale as we climbed out of Kettlewell

The track up on to the moor out of Kettlewell
The track up on to the moor out of Kettlewell

Once through the gate we turned right to follow the path next to the wall for about 3km along the edge of Conistone Moor to the trig point at map ref. SE 001699.

Here there is a pedestrian gate through the wall that runs along the 510m contour. There were lovely views over Wharfedale getting better all the time as we climbed.

Buckden Pike as we neared the top of our climb
Looking out to Buckden Pike as we neared the top of our climb

Cairns by the path at map ref. SD 992723
Cairns by the path at map ref. SD 992723
The path by the wall along the 510m contour on the edge of Conistone Moor.
The path by the wall along the 510m contour on the edge of Conistone Moor
Looking back along the ridge of Great Whernside
Looking back along the ridge of Great Whernside, the watershed between the Nidd and the Wharfe.
The limestone scars of Middlesmoor Pasture
Looking across Wharfedale to the limestone scars of Middlesmoor Pasture near Kettlewell

Looking out over Cracoe and Rylstone from the edge of Conistone Moor

Starting to drop down from the edge of Conistone Moor
Starting to drop down from the edge of Conistone Moor

Below us was an expanse of limestone pavement with a few stunted trees growing out of it and looking very attractive in the patchy sunlight.

From here we dropped down through some rough sheep pasture for about 1.5km to join a walled track at map ref. SD 997686.

Looking across Wharfedale from the edge of Conistone Moor
Looking across Wharfedale from the edge of Conistone Moor

Limestone pavement above the Dales Way
Limestone pavement above the Dales Way
The Dales Way heading towards Kettlewell
The Dales Way heading towards Kettlewell
Kilnsey Crag seen from the Dales Way
Kilnsey Crag seen from the Dales Way
Looking up Litton Dale from the Dales Way
Looking up Litton Dale from the Dales Way

Looking up Wharfedale from the Dales Way
Looking up Wharfedale from the Dales Way

We had lovely views up Litton Dale and across Wharfedale until the Dales Way dropped down to the road in the valley bottom at map ref. SD 976709.

The track led us down throught the limestone pavement to join the Dales Way at map ref. SD 992682. We followed the Dales Way for about 5km back into Kettlewell.

The Dales Way track dropping down to the road near Kettlewell
The Dales Way track dropping down to the road near Kettlewell

The maypole in Kettlewell
The maypole in Kettlewell

Just as we left the cafe the entire Riley Owners' Club drove into Kettlewell in pre-war, 40's and 50's Rileys, many of them convertables. They looked fantastic! It took me right back to my car spotting days in the 1950's. Today our walk had been about 14km and had taken us four and a half hours to walk including two refreshment stops in the shelter of the stone walls to keep out of the strong wind. The scenery in this area is just amazing.

We walked a few hundred metres along the road and then took the Dales Way path across the fields (with lots of stiles) back into Kettlewell. We all had our traditional cup of tea and toasted teacake or scone in the little cafe opposite the car park before heading for home.

Park Gill Beck joins the Wharfe on the edge of Kettlewell
Park Gill Beck joins the Wharfe on the edge of Kettlewell

The Riley Owners' Club drives into Kettlewell
The Riley Owners' Club drives into Kettlewell

Background Notes:
This is a circular route of 14km from Kettlewell. The walk starts with a good stiff climb of about 200m, that's about 600 feet to Conistone Moor below the long ridge of Great Whernside. This is not Whernside of 3-peaks fame, but Great Whernside that forms the watershed between Wharfedale at Kettlewell and Nidderdale at Angram & Scar House reservoirs. Our path climbs to just over 500m and at that height it feels quite high and wild, but it's still another 200m meters to the summit of Great Whernside. Don't worry we're not going any higher! The climb up from Kettlewell is along a steep grassy track and very soon you are looking back down onto Kettlewell and the views just get better and better. At first there is a high steep grassy hillside to the right with limestone outcrops and away to the left, that's looking north, there is the great mass of high land called Cam Head rising up to the ridge above Starbottom. The final part of the climb is across rough marshy sheep pasture to the intake wall. This marks the limit of the land enclosed under the enclosure acts of the late 1700's and early 1800's. There is a gate through the wall and a track running along the open moor side of the wall. Above the track on the left are several large tall cairns. We follow this track at roughly the same height around Conistone Moor for about 2.5km to a trig point. All the way along this part of the walk there are stunning views over Wharfedale, starting with the series of limestone scars on Middlesmoor Pasture just across the valley from Kettlewell. Then comes Knipe Scar at the entrance to Littondale. Whilst on a wider perspective you can see the vast area of high limestone country between Wharfedale and Malham. It's simply breathtaking. At the trig point we turn to drop down the hill side and at this high point before we start the descent there is a great view down Wharfedale towards Cracoe, of Callendar Girls fame. We drop down a steep path for about 1.5km to join a walled track. This track, called Bycliffe Road, is an ancient pack horse route that comes over the moor from Nidderdale and crossed Wharfedale to join Mastiles Lane to Malham Tarn. We continue down the hillside along this track through and area of limestone pavement. These are formed where the flat bedding plane of the limestone has been exposed by glacial action and the joints, the cracks between the limestone blocks become erroded. The limestone blocks are called 'clints' and the erroded gaps between them are called 'grikes'. In these grikes the climate is very sheltered and a whole community of plants grows there that simply would not survive out in the open. Just below the area of limestone pavement we turn right to follow the Dales Way route. This long distance National Trail goes from Ilkley to Bowness on Windermere. The part of the route we follow goes along a wide grassy strip below a limestone scar. Ahead on the left is a large round pie shaped limestone knoll called 'Conistone Pie'. Away to our left the views across Wharfedale continue now from a lower perspective, with the sight of Kilnsey Crag and the entrance to Littondale and there's the view up Wharfedale past Kettlewell. The route drops down the hillside to a minor road past Scargill House, an Anglican Retreat Centre and then continues across the fields back to Kettlewell and the end of our walk.

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