GEORGE WILKINSON marks a walking milestone with a stretch out to Grassington
GRASSINGTON this week, because I asked my trusty navigator where she would like to go for our 750th walk and she said she really liked the grasslands north of Grassington. So do I, and so it was.
After a pop in at the Dales National Park Centre, we wandered up through the town; cobbled, charming, it was busy with visitors. On the northern perimeter is Dales Dairies, a big operation and not pretty; thereafter it was lovely every mile and after a glimpse of lush Wharfedale, we were on the grasslands.
A notice at the parks centre had read: “If there is enough blue sky to make a pair of trousers it’s a hay day”. At first there wasn’t enough for a handkerchief, the only blue being the harebells, but after a while there were sheets and the sun beat down. Limestone scars terraced the land and arched over contours as ribs of pale grey gleamed on the green.
A gully provided the only steepness of the walk, a short bit, and home to a dry waterfall.
After a couple of miles we got another look down into Wharfedale, where the river ran, and could just see Kilnsey Crag.
So far we had approximated to the public footpath, but now we turned and took a track across the open access land, and this took us through the most spectacular limestone and brought a surprise. Not a pleasant one because clouds of French partridge rose, hundreds of the birds, perhaps a thousand, and from land that is a Site of Special Scientific Interest.
On the plus side the views north to dividing valleys are ace.
Soon we reached the Dales Way and turned for Grassington. On the way you will pass a lime kiln with a plaque informing of the process. By it a young girl, devoid of sunhat, sheltered unhappy in its shade.
A little further along you will notice some crags to your right. Here, back in 2009, we witnessed and filmed a terrific aerial combat between a crow and a raptor. This time we did not see any such conflict.
All in all it was a super walk, smooth comfortable and vivid to the eye, a fine celebratory route. Back in Grassington, passing a walking shop, my ever-thoughtful navigator asked if, considering the day, I would like a new pair of socks.
When in doubt look at the map. Check your position at each point. Keep straight on unless otherwise directed.
1. From car park, left to pavement, right to Main Street, up through centre, passing Devonshire Arms.
2. Left to Chapel Street (waymark), ignore Intake Lane.
3. Right to Bank Lane (fingerpost Dales Way), becomes track.
4. On sharp right-hand corner, small gate on left (fingerpost Dales Way) into field, small footbridge, cross field, wall stile and left, gated squeezer near corner (fingerpost).
5. Join track (fingerpost) and cross field, gated squeezer, 11 o’clock across field, squeezer, 50 yards, squeezer (fingerpost) and onto open grassland (access sign), 100 yards.
6. Fork left, keep to a path fairly near to woods on your left.
7. Near fieldgate, over ladderstile on left (no sign) and immediately right, 50 yards, fork left. Squeezer and steep down into gully, uphill, gated squeezer (fingerpost) and left, path above gully to your left, then path curves right and beneath rock outcrop (2 waymark posts), fieldgate, fieldgate (fingerpost), (fingerpost in field), fieldgate.
8. Opposite large tree in field on left and 50 yards before fieldgate to said field, grass track on right (no sign), uphill, 400 yards, rickety fieldgate, flat grass field then up through rocks, 400 yards, crest small rise, 100 yards.
9. Right to good grass track (Dales Way but no sign), 100 yards, gated wall stile, gated wall stile, gate to fenced path.
10. Gated wall stile and immediately fork left (waymark).
11. Fork right to rejoin outward route.
Distance: Six miles.
General location: Yorkshire Dales.
Right of way: Public paths and open access land Dogs: Legal.
Date walked: August 2012.
Road route: Various.
Car parking: National Park pay and display.
Lavatories: Car park.
Refreshments: Inns and cafés in Grassington.
Tourist and public transport information: Parks centre 01756 751690.
Map: Drawn from OS Explorer OL2 Yorkshire Dales southern.
Terrain: Upland grasslands.
Please observe the Country Code and park sensibly. While every effort is made to provide accurate information, walkers set out at their own risk.