Upper Wharfedale from the path from Buckden towards Cray
Upper Wharfedale from the path from Buckden towards Cray

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Route No. 292 - Wednesday 13 May 2009
Buckden, Cray, Yockenthwaite,
Hubberholme circuit - 11km
Upper Wharfedale . . . .

Ordnance Survey route map on the Landranger series map base.
View the route in Google Earth

Map: Ordnance Survey Explorer OL30 Yorkshire Dales Northern & Central areas at 1:25000


Path leaving the car park at Buckden
Path leaving the car park at Buckden

We arrived in the car park (map ref. SD942773) at the Northern end of the village just before 10.00am. From the car park we set off heading generally northwards along the path leading up Buckden Pike.

My neighbour, Jim, and I made an early start this morning and drove to Buckden in Wharfedale in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. It's about an hour and a half by car from home.

Beginning the climb up from the car park at Buckden
Beginning the climb up from the car park at Buckden

Climbing up through Rakes Wood at Buckden
Climbing up through Rakes Wood at Buckden

We could see down the valley over Buckden and up Wharfedale to Yockenthwaite. The weather was perfect for walking with clear skies, warm sunshine and a stiff breeze to keep us cool.

We climbed up through Rakes Wood and as we came out of the wood at the top of this climb the path turns to the right. Here we were clear of the trees and from the bend there was a great view of Wharfedale.

Suckler herd of cattle between Buckden & Cray
Suckler herd of cattle between Buckden & Cray

A substantial stone gate post on the path from Buckden to Cray
A substantial stone gate post on the path from Buckden to Cray
Approaching the hamlet of Cray from Buckden
Approaching the hamlet of Cray from Buckden

Stepping stones across Cray Gill
Stepping stones across Cray Gill

We continued on a path that contours round the hillside to a point above the hamlet of Cray. At map ref. SD943790 we turned left to follow a path down the hillside to some stepping stones over Cray Gill by the road in Cray.

A few hundred metres beyond the bend at map ref. SD940784, the path up Buckden Pike turns right to climb directly up the steep hillside, but our climbing was already done for today.

Dales barn between Cray & Hubberholme
Dales barn between Cray & Hubberholme

Path contouring round the hillside from Crook Gill to Scar House above Hubberholme
Path contouring round the hillside from Crook Gill to Scar House above Hubberholme
Path contouring round the hillside from Crook Gill to Scar House above Hubberholme
Path contouring round the hillside from Crook Gill to Scar House above Hubberholme
Path contouring round the hillside from Crook Gill to Scar House above Hubberholme
Path contouring round the hillside from Crook Gill to Scar House above Hubberholme

Looking across Wharfedale from Scar House above Hubberholme
Looking across Wharfedale from
Scar House above Hubberholme

Then we continued along the path following the edge of a limestone scar above the village of Hubberholme to Scar House.

We crossed the road in Cray and took the path along the access road behind the pub and through the cluster of buildings. We followed the path around the hillside to Cross Crook Gill at map ref. SD934791.

Young lambs at Scar House
Young lambs at Scar House

Woods between Scar House and Yockenthwaite
Woods between Scar House and Yockenthwaite
The limestone banks were peppered with primroses, orchids and bluebells
The limestone banks were peppered
with primroses, orchids and bluebells
The limestone banks were peppered with primroses, orchids and bluebells
The limestone banks were peppered
with primroses, orchids and bluebells

Path from Scar House to Yockenthwaite
Path from Scar House to Yockenthwaite

In Yockenthwaite we joined the Dales Way route and followed this along the riverside for just over 4km back to Buckden.

From Scar House we continued along the top of the scar for another 1.5km until we joined a track down the hillside into Yockenthwaite.

The limestone banks were peppered with primroses, orchids and bluebells
The limestone banks were peppered
with primroses, orchids and bluebells

The village of Yockenthwaite in Upper wharfedale
The village of Yockenthwaite in Upper Wharfedale
The young River Wharfe near Yockenthwaite
The young River Wharfe near Yockenthwaite

A mallard paddling in the River Wharfe
A mallard paddling in the River Wharfe

After about 2km we came to Hubberholme. The path led us into the village past the church and across the River Wharfe on the road bridge.

This part of the River Wharfe is a limestone stream with a rocky bed where the clear water weirs over the steps in the rocks. It was all very pretty in the sunshine.

The young River Wharfe near Yockenthwaite
The young River Wharfe near Yockenthwaite

The church at Hubberholme
The church at Hubberholme

We put a large flat stone from the roadside verge under the gate to block the gap and continued on our way through a gateway on the left hand side of the road. From here we followed the path along the river bank again until we came back to the road at the bridge over the River Wharfe on the edge of Buckden.

From here the route took us along the road for about 600m. There was a young lamb loose on the road and it was in a great panic to get back to its mother in the field. We stood back to give it space to sort itself out and after a little while it found the spot under the gate that was just big enough to wriggle through.

Chervil growing by the roadside
Chervil growing by the roadside. It has a distinctive aniseed scent.

River Wharfe between Hubberhole and Buckden
River Wharfe between Hubberhole and Buckden
Bluebells on the river bank
Bluebells on the river bank
Campion on the river bank
Campion on the river bank

Plantains on the river bank
Plantains on the river bank

The whole route was about 11km and had taken us about four hours to walk including a couple of stops. On the way home we stopped in Pateley Bridge for a coffee and a toasted teacake to round off the day.

By this time the sky had clouded over and it looked as though the forcasters' prediction of rain this evening would be correct. From the bridge we walked along the road back to the car park in the village to complete our walk.

Speedwells by the road side
Speedwells by the road side near Buckden

Approaching Buckden from the road bridge over the River Wharfe
Approaching Buckden from the road bridge over the River Wharfe

Background Notes:
This is a walk of 11km, about 7 miles, from Buckden in upper Wharfedale. There's a big car park on the northern edge of Buckden. The walk starts from there along a good track, called Buckden Rake, that climbs quite steeply from the car park towards the tiny hamlet of Cray and Kidstones Pass. And in fact this track was once part of the Roman road that ran all the way from Ilkley, known to the Romans as Olicana, and across the high moor called Stake Moss into Wensleydale and the Roman fort at Bainbridge (Virosidum). As the track climbs up from Buckden there are lovely views both down Wharfedale to the south and up Langstrothdale to the West. The scenery here is just stunning. It would be a shame to miss the views on a wet misty day. We follow the route of the old Roman road as far as Cray. Our route drops down to cross the stepping stones over Cray Gill and follows a path along the limestone scars above Cray and Hubberholme to Yockenthwaite. All the way from Buckden the route is along paths elevated above the valley floor on the limestone scars giving amazing views all the way. It's just such a lovely place to be. Upstream of Buckden the valley stops being called Wharfedale and becomes Langstrothdale. From Norman times this whole area was a Royal hunting forest called Langstrothdale Chase and Buckden was founded by the Normans as the administrative centre for the hunting forest. Our path follows the limestone scar and above Hubberholme it passes Scar House, which in the 1650's was visted by George Fox, who founded the Quaker movement, after that it became a Quaker meeting House with a Quaker burial ground next to the cottage. Now it's a National Trust holiday cottage. When you reach Yockenthwaite there's a little detour you can do if you wish to a stone circle about 600m in a westerly direction along the Dales Way from Yockenthwaite. It's on the grassy hillside just above the path and consists of a ring of large stones about 6m diameter. It's thought to be Bronze Age, but no-one really knows what it was. One idea is that there was a large ceremonial stone cairn and the stone circle is the kerb stone that was around its base, but who knows? Our route follows the River Wharfe downstream to Hubberholme. Here the Norman church is worth a closer look. The first thing to note is that the ashes of the writer J B Priestley were scattered in the churchyard here. Inside the church we have a link with a route I talked about a few weeks ago when I suggested the workshops of Robert Thompson wood carvers at Kilburn as a place to visit. Here Hubberholme church has a set of oak pews made by them and each one has the little carved mouse trade mark. As you leave Hubberholme look at the vegetation on the verges beside the road. There's lots of the plants up to a metre tall with white multiple flower heads in fact it's a herb called wild chervil, or cow parsley and if you crush the leaves in your hand they give off a very strong scent of aniseed. There's so much of it here that you will probably be able to smell the aniseed in the air as you walk by. A word of warning though, one of the most poisonous plants in Britain, Hemlock, looks very much like this but without the lovely aniseed scent. From Hubberholme the walk follows the River Wharfe back to Buckden via the 'Election Bridge' at Buckden. The story goes that towards the end of the 1700's the bridge over the River Wharfe was washed away by a flood. There was a parlimentary election pending and a candidate offered to contribute £200 for a new bridge if he was elected. The bridge is there so I assume he was duly elected.
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