Simons Seat overlooking Wharfedale
Simons Seat overlooking Wharfedale

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Route No. 337 - Wednesday 28 April 2010
Barden Bridge, Simons Seat,
River Wharfe circuit - 10km
Wharfedale . . .

Route map from Ordnance Survey Open Space service.

Map: OS Explorer OL2 Yorkshire Dales Southern & Western areas at 1:25000


Setting off along the road from Barden Bridge
Setting off along the road from Barden Bridge

. . . so my friend, Jim, and I drove to Barden Bridge (map ref. SE052574) and claimed one of the few remaining parking spaces at about 10.00am. We set off along the road climbing up overlooking the river Wharfe.

April has been a very pleasant month and today was another fine sunny day. I spotted this short walk with a decent climb described in this month's edition of the Dalesman magazine. It was just what I needed for today . . .

Looking down on the River Wharfe as the road begins to climb
Looking down on the River Wharfe as the road begins to climb

Looking down on the River Wharfe as the road begins to climb
Looking down on the River Wharfe as the road begins to climb

Leaving the road on the track to Howgill
Leaving the road on the track to Howgill

After about 450m we came to a junction in the track at map ref. SE063591. Here we turned right to begin the steep climb up through the woods. From this junction to Simon's Seat the route climbs about 330m.

After about 1.5km, at a point where the road curved down to our left, we turned right off the road at map ref. SE060588, to follow a track towards the hamlet of Howgill.

Start of the climb to Simon's Seat from Howgill
Start of the climb to Simon's Seat from Howgill

Looking down Wharfedale from the track up to Simon's Seat
Looking down Wharfedale from the track up to Simon's Seat

Track up through the plantation
Track up through the plantation

Track leaving the plantation  for the moor
Track leaving the plantation for the moor

After about 150m along the top of the wood the track veered away to our right, but the path up to Simon's Seat continues straight on. The first few metres may be a bit indistinct. (The track does go to Simon's Seat via Truckle Crag)

As we climbed the views over Wharfedale just got better and better. The track emerged from the woods onto the moor and followed the top edge of the wood.

Path round the top of the plantation
Path round the top of the plantation

Looking down Wharfedale from the top of the plantation
Looking down Wharfedale from the top of the plantation

Looking up Wharfedale from the edge of the moor
Looking up Wharfedale from the edge of the moor

Path to Simon's Seat paved with sandstone slabs
Path to Simon's Seat paved with sandstone slabs

Just over 1km from the top of the wood we came to the rocky outcrop of Simon's Seat.

We continued up this popular path which is now mostly paved with heavy sandstone slabs.

Simon's Seat with the trig point  on top
Simon's Seat with the trig point on top

Simon's Seat with the trig point  on top
Simon's Seat with the trig point on top

Looking across the Parcevall Hall and Trollers Gill from Simon's Seat
Looking across the Parcevall Hall and Trollers Gill from Simon's Seat

Trig point on Simon's Seat
Trig point on Simon's Seat

After our break we retraced our steps to pick up a paved path around the southern end of the Simon's Seat rocks and begin a steep descent down thw hillside towards Dalehead Farm directly below.

We scrambled up to the trig point to admire the view. It was quite windy on the top and after a few minutes we found a sheltered spot with a view across the Parcevall Hall and Trollers Gill to sit out of the wind for our lunch.

Start of the path down to Dalehead Farm
Start of the path down to Dalehead Farm

Lord's Seat seen from Simon's Seat
Lord's Seat seen from Simon's Seat

Looking back to Simon's Seat from the path to dalehead farm
Looking back to Simon's Seat from the path to dalehead farm

Path down to Dalehead farm
Path down to Dalehead farm

Path down to Dalehead farm
Path down to Dalehead farm

I wondered if they had been here since before these hills were cleared of forest around 4 or 5000 years ago? By the time we reach the farm access road at map ref. SE074604 my old knees were feeling the strain of this steep descent.

The view across Wharfedale was lovely and as we descended I was surprised to see a few isolated clumps of woodland flowers, wood sorrell and wood anemonies.

Male grouse defending his patch
Male grouse defending his patch

Path down to Dalehead farm
Path down to Dalehead farm

Wood Sorrell on the moor
Wood Sorrell on the moor

Path down to Dalehead farm
Path down to the track at Dalehead farm

Path down to Dalehead farm
Path down to Dalehead farm

Track from Dalehead farm to Howgill
Track from Dalehead farm to Howgill

Track down towards the River Wharfe
Track down towards the River Wharfe

This time at the junction we turned right to follow a track down to towards the River Wharfe.

At the access road we turned left to walk along the road back towards Howgill. After about 1.5km (map ref.SE063591 ) we came to the junction in the track where we had started the climb up to Simon's Seat.

The mile stone shows that the track was once a through route to Pateley Bridge
The mile stone shows that the track was once a through route to Pateley Bridge

Wood anemonies by the path
Wood anemonies by the path

Footpath by the River Wharfe
Footpath by the River Wharfe

Angler in the River Wharfe
Angler in the River Wharfe

Ducklings on the R.Wharfe
Ducklings on the R.Wharfe

Path by the R.Wharfe near Barden Bridge
Path by the R.Wharfe near Barden Bridge

The whole route had been about 10km with a climb of around 350m in total up to Simon's Seat and it took us about 5 hours to walk including our breaks. The scenery at every level was just magnificent.

The track brought us to a minor road which we crossed and followed the track past a few dark green painted caravans to the path beside the river. We followed this riverside path for about 1.5km back to the car at barden Bridge.

Ducks on the River WHarfe
Ducks on the River WHarfe

Footpath by the River Wharfe
Footpath by the River Wharfe

R.Wharfe near Barden Bridge
R.Wharfe near Barden Bridge

Path by the R.Wharfe near Barden Bridge
Path by the R.Wharfe near Barden Bridge

Barden Bridge over the R.Wharfe at the end of our walk
Barden Bridge over the R.Wharfe at the end of our walk

Background Notes:
This is a figure of eight walk of about 10km, 6 miles, from Barden Bridge a few miles north of Bolton Abbey on the river Wharfe, where there is some free roadside parking. At busy times like bank holidays the Bolton Abbey estate opens a field by the river for parking but of course there is a charge. This lovely stone arch bridge was built in 1659 and apparently needed major repaire in 1676 only 17 years later, but they must have done a good job because it's still here. The name Barden apparently is derived from "Boar's Den". From Barden Bridge we walk along the road above the River Wharfe towards the hamlet of Howgill. From the road there is a very pleasant view across the river Wharfe around a bend in the river to look up Wharfedale past the village of Appletreewick. Above the hamlet of Howgill our route turns right to climb steeply up the side of Wharfedale, through a large conifer plantation to the open access land of Barden Moor. This was a permissive path before the CRoW Act. The Bolton Abbey estate was helpful to walkers and now the whole of Barden Moor is designated as open access land. It's a hard climb up on to the moor top but well worth the effort. The path leads to a large rocky outcrop with a concrete trig point at the rocky summit called Simon's Seat. I've heard it said that Simon was a legendary Celtic shaman or druid and there are other prominent hill tops in Northern England called Simon's Seat, notably in the Howgill Fells. They probably all had some religeous significance in Celtic times. It's an amazing view point particularly looking northwest up Wharfedale over the village of Appletreewick. The land falls away in a sheer gritstone cliff at first and then a steep rock-strewn hillside down towards Skyreholme. Our route follows a sandstone paved path round the southern end of the Simon's Seat rocky outcrop and down the hillside to a farm access road above Skyreholme Beck. We follow this farm road back to Howgill where our route turns down to the River Wharfe. We follow the footpath along the river bank and just where we first meet the river there are stepping stones across the river to the hamlet of Drebley on the other side. The river bank is a place to go quietly and look out for wildlife, perticularly birds. One that you may see on this stretch of river is a dipper. This is a brown bird with a white breast about blackbird size or a little smaller. They perch on small rocks at water level then dive into the water and disppear to bob up nearby a few moments later. They grasp the stones on the river bed with their feet to stay down and feed on the insect lavae that live there. Then there is always the chance of seeing a gooseander flying upstream over the water. I've mentioned them before when we looked at a walk just down stream of here to The Strid. We follow the river bank for about a mile, 1.5km back to Barden Bridge and the end of our walk.
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