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Upper Wharfedale seen from the slopes of Buckden Pike
Upper Wharfedale seen from the slopes of Buckden Pike

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Route No. 519 - Wednesday 4 September 2013
Buckden, Buckden Pike, Walden Road,
Starbotton, Kettlewell (linear route) - 13km
Wharfedale . . .

Route map from Ordnance Survey Open Space service.

Map: OS Explorer OL30 Yorkshire Dales Northern & Central areas

This is another delightful walk from my friend Ray Brown
Thanks Ray!


Signs in Buckden show the enthusiasm for 'Le Tour'
Signs in Buckden show the enthusiasm for 'Le Tour'

'Pride of the Dales' service bus in Buckden car park
'Pride of the Dales' service bus in Buckden car park

There, several signs proudly announced that Le Tour de France, the world’s greatest cycling event, will pass through the village in July 2014. From Buckden car park we took the stony track north which climbs steadily for about 1.2km, affording fine views of Upper Wharfedale and of the road from Cray up to the Causeway which the world’s best cyclists will tackle next year: but small beer compared with Alpe d’Huez.

Ray Brown wrote:- We day-walkers, especially those fortunate to have OAP free bus passes, can sometimes forget that our routes don’t need to end where they begin! Today we parked in Kettlewell, where the garage car park charges £2.00 – only half the fee of the public car park over the road - and took the 10.49 Pride of the Dales service bus to Buckden.

Setting off towards the stony track up Buckden Pike
Setting off towards the stony track up Buckden Pike

The route up Buckden Pike crosses five field boundaries
The route up Buckden Pike crosses five field boundaries

Map ref. SD 9565 7916 where the final climb begins
Map ref. SD 9565 7916 where the final climb begins

The route crosses five field boundaries and passes a National Trust "Upper Wharfedale" sign and a small abandoned stone quarry on the right before reaching a wall at SD 9565 7916 where, on veering right alongside the wall, the final climb to the Pike begins and includes a few steep sections.

At the crest of the track a signpost directed us away from the Cray High Bridge path to send us right on a steady climb towards Buckden Pike. Soon the path curves to the left but remains distinct all the way to the summit.

Looking down to Cray from the path up Buckden Pike
Looking down to Cray from the path up Buckden Pike

One of the steep sections near the top of the climb
One of the steep sections near the top of the climb

At the summit cairn on Buckden Pike
At the summit cairn on Buckden Pike

Work in progress to pave the ridge path
Work in progress to pave the ridge path

Following an unusually fine summer our route presented no difficulties. After crossing a couple of field boundaries we turned left over the wall using a ladder stile to pay respects at the memorial for the Polish aircrew who, but for one survivor, died when their Wellington bomber crashed during a training mission in 1942.

From the summit of the Pike we continued south with a stone wall on our left, passing many massive bales of Yorkshire stone, we presume ferried by helicopter and intended to be laid over sections of the path which become impassibly muddy after periods of rain.

Memorial to Polish crew of a crashed WW2 Wellington bomber
Memorial to Polish crew of a crashed WW2 Wellington bomber

Joining the Walden Road bridleway at map ref. SD 9655 7766
Joining the Walden Road bridleway at map ref. SD 9655 7766

The route is distinct except when it crosses a patch of bog where the path veers somewhat right to a small cairn at SD 9618 7714 which leads down to a large cairn and a gate. The continuing descent to Starbotton affords stunning views of the water courses feeding Cam Gill Beck.

From there we walked south-west with a stone wall on our right until we reached a small gate in the wall at SD 9655 7766. After lunching there, we passed through the gate, now only propped vertical by its sole remaining hinge, and descended to Starbotton by the rough bridleway known as Walden Road.

Small and large cairns leading to a gate
Small and large cairns leading to a gate

Moors above Starbotton
Moors above Starbotton

Traveller rests above Starbotton
Traveller rests above Starbotton

Starbotton footbridge over the River Wharfe
Starbotton footbridge over the River Wharfe

We were careful to follow the mown track rather than the river bank because this stretch of the Wharfe meanders considerably. Here the delightful scenery of river and dale is unsurpassed: a fitting conclusion to a walk which had everything - Ray Brown.

On reaching the B6160 road we walked along it to the left for about 0.3 km before turning to a path on the right, signposted to Arncliffe, Buckden and Kettlewell. After crossing the River Wharfe by a footbridge we turned left along its west bank on the Dales Way path towards Kettlewell.

Tree bows to the Wharfe
Tree bows to the Wharfe

Meandering Wharfe between Starbotton and Kettlewell
Meandering Wharfe between Starbotton and Kettlewell

Entering Kettlewell from the riverside path
Entering Kettlewell from the riverside path

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