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Burnsall village and Burnsall bridge
Burnsall village and Burnsall Bridge

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Route No. 203 - Saturday 11 November 2006
Burnsall, Hebdon, Grassington
(via High Lane), River Wharfe circuit - 11km
Wharfedale, Yorkshire Dales

Map: OS explorer OL2 Yorkshire Dales Southern & Western areas
Route Map on 'Landranger' base from OS Open Space service
Open this route in Google Earth


Burnsall Bridge
Burnsall Bridge

Anyway after all this excitement we didn't start walking until 11.15. We crossed Burnsall Bridge and took the path on the left immediately over the bridge at map ref. SE 033611. There is a little gate in the wall that leads to a long flight of stone steps with a very wonky handrail down to the river bank. There was a stone plaque built into the bridge which said "THIS BRIDGE WAS REPAIRED AT THE CHARGE OF THE WEST RIDEING 1674"

The weather forecast today was for strong winds and blustery showers getting more frequent later in the day, but it was a chance for my wife and me to have a walk together. We drove to Burnsall on the river Wharfe and parked in the car park next to the river at map ref. SE 031610. We were late setting off this morning because I now qualify for a winter flu jab as I am now advancing into decrepit old age. There are so many people in that category where I live (my son calls it 'the elephants graveyard') that the doctors decided to do everyone mass production style today. It was very efficient and worked very well. Everyone had an appointment timed to the minute - mine was 9.49am - I've never seen so many elderly, infirmed people in the same place at the same time!

Stone plaque built into Burnsall Bridge
Stone plaque built into Burnsall Bridge

Looking back to Burnsall Church
Looking back to Burnsall Church
Looking back over Burnsall as the path climbed up above the river
Looking back over Burnsall as the path climbed up above the river

Footbridge over Hebden Beck
Footbridge over Hebden Beck

The path brought us out on to the village street at map ref. SE 026629. We walked along the village street to its junction with the B6265 and turned left to follow the main road up the hill for about 200m to map ref. SE 024631. Here we turned off the road to follow a for almost 3km to Grassington.

We followed this path climbing up the river bank to the road at map ref. SE 033617. We walked along the road for about 600m and then took the path across a field to a farm access road at map ref. SE 029622. We approached the farm (Ranelands Farm) and took the path across the fields to join a path in a little valley that follows hebden Beck up the valley to Hebden village.

Start of the track from Hebden toward Grassington
Start of the High Lane track from Hebden toward Grassington

The valley of Hebden Beck seen from High Lane
The valley of Hebden Beck seen from High Lane
Conservation area in the old hospital grounds
Conservation area in the old hospital grounds
The hills above Thorpe village seen from High Lane
The hills above Thorpe village seen from High Lane

The main street in Grassington
The main street in Grassington

A group of four ladies came by as we sat there and it turned out that they were trainee national park volunteer rangers learning how to schedule maintenance defects in public footpaths and bridleways. It's good to know that the National Park authority takes such good care of us. The paths are usually in good shape in the park area. After our break we continued on into Grassington and joined the main street at map ref. SE 003641. We walked down the main street to the junction with the B6265 at the bottom and walked about 300m to the car park and visitor centre (toilets here).

The track joins a walled track called High Lane about 800m before we reached Grassington. The path crosses what used to be the grounds of a hospital but is now a conservation area for meadow flowers. Just beyond this area we stopped in the shelter of a wall for our lunch. It was very windy and we were glad of the protection of the wall.

Weir and footbridge below the car park in Grassington
Weir and footbridge below the car park in Grassington

Weir below the car park in Grassington
Weir below the car park in Grassington
Bend in the river Wharfe below Grassington
Bend in the river Wharfe below Grassington
The Dales Way path by the River Wharfe
The Dales Way path by the River Wharfe
The Dales Way path by the River Wharfe
The Dales Way path by the River Wharfe above Hebden

The Dales Way path by the River Wharfe
The Dales Way path by the River Wharfe

Fortunately the wind had been on our faces on the way out to Grassington but now it was on our backs. The only part of us to feel the cold driving rain was our legs and it was not long before the wind had driven the rain through our 'waterproof' trousers. We passed many people coming the other way with their heads down forcing their way through the wind and rain. There was one tiny elderly lady in particular walking on her own with all the right gear, but clearly buffeted by the wind and gamely heading toward Grassington.

From the car park we followed the footpath down to the footbridge over the river Wharfe at map ref. SE 001633. We did not cross the footbridge but instead turned left to follow the Dales Way path along the river bank for about 3km to the pedestrian suspension bridge over the river below Hebden at map ref. SE 025623. We had been congratulating ourselves on missing the showers all the way to Grassington, but as we began the walk back along the river bank the rain started.

Squally hail by the suspension bridge at Hebden
Squally hail by the suspension bridge at Hebden

Squally hail by the suspension bridge at Hebden
Squally hail by the suspension bridge at Hebden
Squally hail at the suspension bridge at Hebden
Squally hail at the suspension bridge at Hebden

River Wharfe at Loop Scar near Burnsall
River Wharfe at Loop Scar near Burnsall

This part of the River Wharfe is one my favourite places and I wanted to linger a while to take it all in, but my wife was fed up of the wet trousers making her legs cold so we had to press on back to the car PDQ. It had been a lovely walk and even the weather added to the experience. The whole route had been about 11km and it had taken us four hours to walk including our lunch stop.

As we approached the suspension bridge near Hebden there was a sudden heavy squall of hailstones swirling round the trees and kicking up spray from the surface of the river. Two fishermen huddled against a tree on the river bank as the hail battered their umbrella. The squall was starting to ease as I crossed the bridge but it still swayed worryingly in the middle as I crossed. Then in just a few minutes the wind eased and the hail stopped and there were breaks in the cloud and even a little sunshine as we finished the last 2km back into Burnsall.

River Wharfe at Loop Scar near Burnsall
River Wharfe at Loop Scar near Burnsall

River Wharfe at Loop Scar near Burnsall
River Wharfe at Loop Scar near Burnsall
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