white horse logo

Looking back to Kilnsey Crag from the path climbing up out of Conistone
Looking back to Kilnsey Crag from the path climbing up out of Conistone

Menu:

National Parks

| 2001 walks | 2002 walks | 2003 walks | 2004 walks |
| 2005 walks | 2006 walks | 2007 walks | 2008 walks |
| 2009 walks | 2010 walks | 2011 walks | 2012 walks |
| 2013 walks | 2014 walks | 2015 walks | 2016 walks |
| 2017 walks | 1993-2000 library | Find a Route |
| A few Routes to print out | Request a Route... |

Route No. 424 - Tuesday 21 Jun 2011
Grassington, Dales Way, Conistone Dib,
Conistone circuit - 11km
Wharfedale, Yorkshire Dales. . .

Route map from Ordnance Survey Open Space service.

Map: OS Explorer OL2 Yorkshire Dales Southern & Western areas


Main Street in Grassington
Main Street in Grassington

The old forge or Smidy owned by Tom Lee
The old forge or Smidy owned by Tom Lee who was
hanged in the 1760's for the murder of the local doctor

The walled track called Bank Lane
The walled track called Bank Lane

At the end of Chapel Street we turned right up Bank Lane still following the Dales Way route. Bank Lane became a walled track between the fields and at map ref. SE002646, the Dales Way route turns left off the track through a pedestrian gate to cross the fields. We stayed on the track which contoured around the hillside with lovely views over Grassington and down Wharfedale. After a few hundred meters the track rejoined the Dales Way at map ref. SD998651.

Today my mate, Jim, and I drove to the visitor centre car park at Grassington in Wharfedale at map ref. SE002637. It was a poor weather forecast with heavy showers expected almost anywhere. At least it was fine as we set from the car park up the village street which was completely congested with parked cars so that the traffic was held up in both directions. On foot we negotiated our way around all the vehicles and continued up the village street. We followed the Dales Way route out of Grassington. We turned left along Garrs Lane which became Chapel Street.

Setting out along Bank Lane
Setting out along Bank Lane

The walled track called Bank Lane
The walled track called Bank Lane

Looking across Wharfedale from the Dales Way
Looking across Wharfedale from the Dales Way

One of many such stiles on the Dales Way
One of many such stiles on the Dales Way

Dales Way heading for Conistone Dib
Dales Way heading for Conistone Dib

There were many decorative little snails along the track
There were many decorative little snails along the track

There is also a very solid old lime kiln with an iron plaque describing how it would have been used. At the head of Conistone Dib, the Dales Way crosses a track that come all the way over the moor from Middlesmoor and Howstean Gorge in Nidderdale to Conistone in Wharfedale.

From here we continued along the Dales Way route for about 3km to the head of Conistone Dib. Along the way there were limestone scars each topped with its limestone pavement. It's a very picturesque route.

 

Lime kiln by the Dales Way
Lime kiln by the Dales Way

Climbing up to the head of Conistone Dib
Climbing up to the head of Conistone Dib

Heading for the opening into Conistone Dib
Heading for the opening into Conistone Dib

The Dales Way between Grassington & Conistone Dib
The Dales Way between Grassington & Conistone Dib

Going down into Conistone Dib
Going down into Conistone Dib

Looking down Conistone Dib
Looking down Conistone Dib

The wide middle part of Conistone Dib
The wide middle part of Conistone Dib

Dry river channel in the lower part of the dib
Dry river channel in the lower part of the dib

Another multi-coloured snail
Another multi-coloured snail

The path down the dib finishes with a series of limestone shelves about 1.2m deep just before the path emerges into Conistone village.

As we approached this track we turned left to enter Conistone Dib. The public footpath descends down a rocky cleft in the ground. It's very steep to start with and it's really a short rock scramble down the rock cleft to more of a footpath below. The limestone rock was very slippery in this showery weather and great care was needed to descend safely. The gorge was eroded by a river of melt water at the end of the ice age and there's one place in particular where rocks caught in a whirlpool have eroded a dome shaped alcove in the limestone wall of the river channel.

Looking back to the scramble down into Conistone Dib
Looking back to the scramble down into Conistone Dib

Descending into the lower part of Conistone Dib
Descending into the lower part of Conistone Dib

Dome shaped alcove in the rock formed by a wirlpool in the old river
Dome shaped alcove in the rock formed by a whirlpool in the old river

Rock shelves near the bottom of the dib
Rock shelves near the bottom of the dib

The broad middle part of Conistone Dib
The broad middle part of Conistone Dib

Looking back to the dib from the village
Looking back to the dib from the village

An old barn near the edge of the village
An old barn near the edge of the village

Looking back to Kilnsey Crag
Looking back to Kilnsey Crag

Climbing away from Conistone
Climbing away from Conistone

Path around the rim of the Dib Beck valley
Path around the rim of the Dib Beck valley

Back along the path from Conistone we had a lovely view of Kilnsey Crag looking up Wharfedale. We climbed up to the edge of a deep valley flanked by limestone cliffs with Dib Beck running in the bottom. As we approached there didn't seem to be a way across but I have been this way before and the path skirts the top of the cliff to the head of the valley and makes an easy crossing.

About 100m from the centre of the village we turned left off the road to follow a path sign posted to Grassington, climbing up the hillside. On the hillside across the River Wharfe there is an ancient settlement and field system marked on the OS map. I can remember seeing the terraces and platforms picked out by the shadows of the banks on a previous visit but there was no sun today and I could not spot anything resembling an ancient field system.

The centre of Conistone village
The centre of Conistone village

Climbing away from Conistone
Climbing away from Conistone

Common daisies by the path
Common daisies by the path

Path around the rim of the Dib Beck valley
Path around the rim of the Dib Beck valley

Path around the rim of the Dib Beck valley
Path around the rim of the Dib Beck valley

Looking north from the top edge of Bastow Wood to the limestone scars towards Conistone Dib
Looking north from the top edge of Bastow Wood to the limestone scars towards Conistone

Heading back towards Grassington
Heading back towards Grassington

The end of Bank Lane in Grassington
The end of Bank Lane in Grassington

Then we returned to the car park at the Visitor Centre. The whole route had been 11km and it had taken about 5 hours including our stops. This is the longest and hardest walk I have done since my knee replacement operation at the start of the year, so things are still progressing. It's a long slow process.

The path climbed up along the edge of Bastow Wood and we followed it along a grassy track through limestone outcrops to cross the Dales Way path at map ref. SD998651. From there we retraced our steps along the walled track back into Grassington. We found a pleasant little cafe in the village centre for a coffee and a bacon roll.

Heading back to Grassington along Bank Lane
Heading back to Grassington along Bank Lane

Returning down Main Street in Grassington
Returning down Main Street in Grassington

The National Park Visitor Centre at the car park in Grassington
The National Park Visitor Centre at the car park in Grassington

Background Notes:
This is a walk of 11km of about 7 miles, from Grassington in Wharfedale through the limestone country to a limestone gorge called Conistone Dib. There's a large car park at the National Park Visitor Centre in Grassington and from there the route goes along the main street. Grassington is an attractive little market town and as you walk up Main Street look out for the iron plaque on a small stone building on the left which records that the building was the Old Smidy or forge owned by the notorious Tom Lee who was hanged in the 1760's for the murder of the local doctor. The route leaves Grassington along the Dales Way through an area of limestone scars and limestone pavements. After a couple of kilometers you pass a very solid looking lime kiln on the left with an iron plaque explaining how it was used. About a kilometer further on you reach a track that crosses the high moor all the way from Howstein Gorge in Nidderdale to Conistone in Wharfedale and in fact continues across Wharfedale and up across the hill tops again to Malham at the head of Airedale. This part of the track is known as Mastiles Lane, a well known green road that has been in use since pre-Roman times. Just a few metres before this track you come to the head of Conistone Dib on the left of the Dales Way path. Here you need to decide how adventurous you are. The route through Conistone Dib itself has a couple of steep rocky descents, but you can avoid the Dib gorge altogether by following the track to the North of the Dib down into Conistone village, but for me the best part of this walk is the path through Conistone Dib.The entrance to the dib is in a small grassy area enclosed by stone walls. At first glance there's nothong to see. It's just a rocky cleft in the ground. The public right of way goes down this cleft. The first 20m or so is a very steep rock scramble down the narrow cleft in the rock. Then there is a better path but still quite steep. The path goes through this upper part of the narrow limestone gorge for about 400m. After that it widens out to a grassy valley for the middle part of the descent for about 600m. Then the path again descends quite steeply into a narrown limestone river bed that was eroded by the huge torrent of glacial melt water at the end of the ice age. As you descend you can see the shape of the old river channel and in one place in particular there is a large dome shaped alcove in the rock wall where there was a whirlpool and the shape was worn by boulders spinning round and round trapped in the whirlpool. Near the bottom of the Dib there are several deep rock shelves that the path crosses before entering the village of Conistone. In Conistone village the old Methodist Chapel was put up for sale in 1980 and after a fundraising effort by local people is was bought by the Council for use as an activity centre and hostel by youth groups. It now sleeps over 20 people. Just beyond the chapel our route takes a footpath on the left to climb up the valley side. As you climb higher look across the river Wharfe from Conistone to where there is a "Settlement and field system" marked on the OS map and when the light is right you can see the shadows cast by the terraces and platforms but you really need an archeologist with you to explain what's going on. As you climb up there is a wonderful view looking back up Wharfedale to Kilnsey Crag and beyond to Great Whernside above Kettlewell. That's Great Whernside not to be confused with Whernside, one of the Yorkshire 3 peaks, although Great Whernside is the same sort of height as the 3 peaks. The path leads you to another steep sided limestone valley which looks as though there's no way across the cliffs as you approach but in fact the path skirts the rim of the valley to cross a shallow dip at the head of the valley. From there the path takes us along the edge of Bastow Wood across an area of rough pasture with numerous limestone outcrops and other grassy mounds. Apparently this whole area out along the Dales Way to Conistone Dib was occupied since the Bronze Age but again you need a friendly archeologist to explain what all the lumps and bumps were. Then we head back into Grassington where there are plenty of pubs and cafes to round off the walk.
Top of Page