In the heart of the Yorkshire Dales are the infamous Yorkshire 3 Peaks of Pen-y-ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough. Right in the middle of them, in the bottom of the dale is the spectacular Ribblehead Viaduct.
An ancient monument that was built between 1870 and 1874 and is an icon of the Yorkshire Dales. To take a spectacular walk in this area does not just have to involve climbing up high.
You can walk circular and linear walks in all directions around the viaduct and along the lower slopes of the big peaks. No matter the weather the views are expansive and wonderful.
Limestone paving, pastures green, historic structures, rivers and becks.
For one such example to show you what I mean, take a look at this article on Baldhiker. Walking beneath a snowcapped Ingleborough and Whernside and through the viaduct itself.
Where South Yorkshire meets the Peak District, not too far from Barnsley is the beautiful setting of Langsett Reservoir.
Combine a walk through the glorious woodland here with a climb up to Pike Lowe on the open moorland and you will have a great 9 mile day out in the fresh air and one full of rich variety.
The starting point: Langsett Reservoir Car Park. On the A616 near to where that road meets the A628 roundabout. This car park is more of an overspill normally for the much busier Langsett Barn car park.
There is a full GPX of this route on the walkshire.com website.
Here is a taster and overview.
From the car park you cross the main road carefully and straight into the conifers and woodland around Langsett Reservoir. Turning left when you reach the water you get a great warm up and start to the walk.
Through the green of the trees, along the shores of the water blue and very flat. This section is very accessible. Eventually you reach the end of the reservoir and turn right to walk along the impressive dam.
After the dam you follow the road just a couple of hundred metres then turn right and back onto the track and pathways.
Away from the hustle and bustle of the main part of the reservoir the paths get much quieter now.
Now. Rather than carry on with a full walk around the reservoir, this walk will take you on a left turn and up into the open access land and the moors. You will see the summit of Pike Lowe up on the tops and a pathway that takes you there.
However: Yes this pathway is clear and open. But you will find this.
Not just this sign but others too all in a row basically saying the landowner has said ‘no dogs’.
If you see this sign and the path is a public right of way (I use OS maps as a rule) then as long as you stick to the path strictly with a short lead then you are OK. But on this occasion the path up to Pike Lowe is visible and allowed but not shown on OS as a public right of way.
So unfortunately, from my walks here, I have never been able to complete it fully since I have been with Malc and co unfortunately. I love the walk, the memories of it, and know you will love it. But if you with dogs alas you can’t sorry, grouse hunting is more important to some.
When you get to the top of Pike Lowe you get expansive views all over the open moorland and South Yorkshire. Fresh air, breeze on the face. Invigorating and worth every step.
From the summit you take the path west and walk back down to Langsett Reservoir via Mickleden Edge. More top views of the Reservoir and the Beck.
Once down it i straight on back to the car park you started at.
I live for the outdoors and I love to get out hiking as much as possible. In the wild, within nature and pastures green.
Yorkshire is, of course, one of the best walking areas in the UK. Hills and dales, moors and coast.
It has everything a walker would want. Miles of open countryside and pathways to enjoy whilst creating wonderful memories.
With the great increase in people enjoying walking, the extra footfall does have an impact on the local areas with walkers and landowners both having a responsibility to make our great walking areas safe and enjoyable for all.
A small minority of walkers being disrespectful to the land and livestock can create problems for the local people and workers. On the other side there are a small minority of landowners and farmers that create problems for the walkers and thus themselves too.
If you look on a designated map used by the government and highways agencies or even the Ordnance Survey maps, you will see that public rights of way are everywhere.
These paths cross many farms and land owned by people but they are still a right of way. It is important for both sides to work together within the rules to live in harmony and make the countryside more enjoyable for all.
If you own land that you think is affected by a right of way then you should ensure it is clear where the path is and that it is not hindered or blocked. If you walk on the path, you should respect the land around the path and stay on it, following signage.
The Countryside Code
Let us start with the countryside code, a basic but necessary list of guidelines that people should follow when in rural areas.
Be safe – plan ahead and follow any signs
Leave gates and property as you find them
Protect plants and animals and take your litter home
Keep dogs under close control
Consider other people
Let us look at these in more detail from both sides:
Be safe – plan ahead and follow any signs
Being safe with good planning will enhance your walk immensely. Check the weather and take appropriate clothing (there is a reason Yorkshire is so wonderfully green).
Maps and routes: Plan your route in advance and check that the path has public access. Plus take a map. This will help you to avoid getting lost and to avoid walking where you shouldn’t be.
Signs and footpaths: Most good landowners will have erected signage and stiles to help you navigate and keep you on your right direction, avoiding straying on crops and worrying livestock unnecessarily.
Where there is a footpath in a field, you should keep to it even if it is really muddy. That path may be keeping you from trampling crops that are someone’s livelihood.
If there is no clear footpath where there should be then the local highways authority will need to be informed.
A landowner has many responsibilities too regarding public rights of way passing through their fields etc.
They are responsible for signage. If a definitive right of way map says there is a path, there is a right of way.
If they grow crops in a field with a right of way, they have to keep 1.5 metres clear for a footpath around the edge or through the middle, say diagonally. They should not cultivate right to the edge of a field in this case.
Here is an example I came across that is done really well. Clear for all.
All stiles need to be adequately maintained and clear.
It is actually illegal to put a sign up saying things like ‘bull in field’, just to deter walkers, when in fact there isn’t a bull in the field.
In the same vein, they are not allowed to erect fences or barriers where a public right of way should go.
The highways authority can remove illegal signage or fences that hinder a right of way.
I have seen many instances where farmers have put up signs and fences (or even taken down signs) to make it look like there isn’t a right of way.
I have also seen instances where walkers have taken another route away from the path and ruined crops etc. Just a little thought to the rules from both sides will enable the countryside to be safe and pleasurable for all.
Leave gates and property as you find them
This guideline really is about respect and a social responsibility to think of others as we do in all walks of life.
Please always close gates behind you if you come across them closed. There could, for example, be people’s livelihood in the field like sheep and we wouldn’t want them escaping.
You may not see the sheep on entering but there is always a reason to keep it closed.
Also bear in mind that a farmer may also want a gate left wide open, if you found it that way.
Let us turn to paths. Please stay on the designated footpath that the landowner has made visible for you. Going off the path may cause issues you may not see in that season.
Please use designated stiles to climb walls and fences etc. Simply climbing old stone walls can cause damage and in turn allow livestock to escape as well as create expense.
To help walkers and their right to pass through, landowners should make sure the signage is adequate and all stiles and gates are well maintained and clear.
Clear pathways help to guide walkers around fields away from areas you may not want them straying into.
Protect plants and animals, and take your litter home
One of the big reasons we love to get outdoors is to be amongst nature and wildlife. Please do not tamper with it though by removing rocks and wildflowers.
If you are in a field of livestock, do not go towards them unnecessarily or scare them.
Dropping litter is illegal and it should really be good social etiquette to take all litter home. Leave no trace of your presence except the footprints on the footpaths.
Litter is not just an visible environmental mess but it can also be eaten by wildlife and livestock, causing all sorts of issues.
Where possible you should, where possible, avoid having livestock near public footpaths. I know this is not always possible, so helping the walkers navigate around them is always helpful.
Keep dogs under close control
Dog owners must keep their dogs under control at all times and especially so when around livestock. Sheep get worried when a dog is too loose and if they are pregnant this can be an even bigger issue.
If your dog is not under close control and is worrying livestock, the farmer is legally allowed to take matters into their own hands and, occasionally as a last resort, with deadly force.
It is true that on a right of way, the law states the dog must be under close control but there is no mention of leads as some signs might say. But just because you can control your dog without a lead does not mean you should. It is best to play safe.
Open access land has extra rules that are worth reading up on if you are a dog owner.
Landowners have responsibilities for the upkeep of stiles but it is not a legal requirement to make them dog friendly. However, you do see dog gates and latches, where responsible landowners have thought about people accessing and exiting their land without a problem.
Consider other people
We escape to the outdoors to perhaps get away from our busy lives in the towns and cities. It should also be remembered though that here too is a place people live and work in.
We should respect the land as we would expect others to if people had the right to walk through our front gardens at home.
Don’t block gates with cars. Respect farmers moving their sheep and cattle.
Contribute to the local area as you take your walk over their land. Many local shops sell local produce, grown where you have walked.
It is a fact that many countryside landowners and farmers have public rights of way passing through their land. The law states they must help to guide them through and not hinder or block them.
When I have been on walks, the more signage and obvious pathways and stiles I’ve found, the easier and quicker I have passed through enjoyably.
Again, if you see anything purposely hindering a walkers’ right of way, you can contact the local Highways Agency.
The countryside is a wonderful place. And more and more people are getting out into it for health, enjoyment and physical exercise. It is great for our mental wellbeing too. I can’t see any reason anybody would want to deny people their right to enjoy, responsibly, the great outdoors.
If we follow the guidelines of the code on both sides and respect people, the animals, livelihoods and hobbies, there would never be any problems.
Alas, there will always be a small minority on both sides of the arguments that spoil it for all sometimes. Walkers not shutting gates, leaving dog faeces behind etc. Landowners hiding or blocking pathways or making you feel unwelcome.
These are a small minority and there are rights on both sides. It is a matter of respect and education rather than dividing lines.
13 and a half miles of wonderful canal scenery. From Bingley to Skipton, walk through time past sites of industrial heritage and finish at the ‘Gateway to the Dales’.
It may sound like a fair few miles, but with this route using a well-maintained and recently upgraded canal towpath, it’s virtually flat all the way. This makes it a great longer stroll for walkers of all abilities, including wheelchair and pram users.
The Ingleton Falls Walk, a firm favourite for me, especially on the quiet days away from the Summer holiday season. If you are in Yorkshire and feel like a shorter walk packed with gorgeous scenery and fresh air, get yourself to here, a super trail for the whole family.
A circular walk of just over 4 miles that leads up one river across and down another. Starting low it was off through the limestone woodland. Rich in trees and moss. Greens abound even in mid-Feb, you can imagine a different kind of beauty when the trees come to life with leaves. It is also hard to miss the songbirds singing in the trees above. You will see plenty no matter the time of year you go.
Spring, a time when many of Britain and Yorkshire’s migratory birds head back to our shores. Walking takes you into nature and nature often comes to you in return for you getting out.
One of the earliest to come in the season is the Sand Martin.
As a breed it is the cousin of the swallow and has the unmistakable flight pattern and shape as they dart through the air catching food. On the banks of the River Ouse, at Rawcliffe Park near York, you will catch hundreds of Sand Martins nesting in the sandy banks of the river.
I set up my camera to capture them more closely, take a look.
Lindley Wood Reservoir is the oldest of the reservoirs in the Washburn Valley. Built between 1869 and 1876. Further up the valley are three others named Thruscross, Fewston and Swinsty.
Lindley Wood reservoir is situated further down the valley and a quiet, lesser known yet beautiful area to explore. There is no direct path covering the whole circumference of the water’s edge but this 6 mile circular walk takes in not just the reservoir but the surrounding area too providing expansive views of the lower Washburn Valley as well as the reservoir from above.
This walk has so much all in one walk. Open countryside, a reservoir, forest paths, woodland paths and riverside paths and a bit of history. Perfect!
There is a small parking space for around 4 cars at the Dob Park Rd junction with Weston Moor Road. The Otley to Blubberhouses Road. (SE 195 492). If heading out of Otley, go up the hill on the Blubberhouses Road, past the turn off for Clifton. The road will bend right sharply then afterwards as it bends left sharply the junction is on your right. It is a dead end road and the spaces are immediately on the right as you enter the road.
Walk down Dob Park Road for 100m and take the right turn where the signpost says The 6 Dales Trail.
Follow the track and keep to the right hand track when there is a divergence. This will give you outstanding views down toward the reservoir as well as a unique view of Almscliffe Crag in the near distance.
The track then leads you down into Crag Farm. Pass through and past the farm and as soon as the track bears left you take the gate the first gate on the right.
Pass through this field keeping the wall to your right and in the next field, turn left, and you will see a high ladder stile to go over.
As you walk through these fields you get a real good views down to the reservoir below but also over the whole lower Washburn Valley. Forest covered hills and green fields in every direction.
Head down the slope. Keep to the right hand side of the field as it bends round to the right.
At the end of the field in the corner you will see a stile with home made handrails that leads onto the road. Go straight across the road taking care and onto the footpath directly across.
Walk through the next two fields and through the gate onto the lane where you will turn left and walk down it until you cross the bridge.
Immediately after crossing the bridge you will see and take a path that heads left off the lane and into the woods. Signposted Norwood Bottom.
This is the reservoir path proper and you follow it all the way along. Lindley Wood itself is enchanting at any time of year.
A very quiet footpath that provides a great forest walk combined with views across the reservoir.
Follow this track all the way to the end where you will meet the road again and turn left across the bridge.
Immediately after the bridge turn right over a stile and onto a path by the River Washburn.
You will eventually come to a bridge that takes you across onto the right hand side of the river and carry on. Keeping the river to your left.
You will eventually come to a ford with a pretty setting by the river and an old moss covered 17 century packhorse bridge. A perfect place for a picnic by the water.
Cross that bridge and follow the track that goes uphill and turns into a tarmac lane. This leads you all the way up and back to your starting point. This will be the steepest part of the trail so take your time and enjoy turning around and looking back across the valley.
Nearby Places to Stay and Eat
The nearest town is Otley in West Yorkshire (3 miles away) which in itself is a lovely place to take in if visiting the area. There are many shops, cafes and restaurants to choose from as well as a great bustling market on certain days. There are a few bed and breakfasts to choose from too.
The other way north for around 5 miles is Mackenzies Smokehouse Farm Shop at Blubberhouses. A huge place selling not just farm and food products but many housewares and unique items. The cafe is fantastic and can highly recommend their roast Sunday dinner.