In Upper Wharfedale you can enjoy some delightful riverside walking on a one way/linear walk followed by a short climb and a longer stroll through some lovely limestone country. There is a real satisfaction in taking a bus or train before returning by foot.

Take the bus from Grassington and walk back, it takes any stress about missing your return. The buses from Grassington presently leave at 10.10am or 12.10pm, leaving plenty of time to return.

Buckden is an attractive village at the head of Wharfedale so worth a quick look around before starting the walk. From the car park (bus drop off) cross the river and just over the bridge turn left on to a riverside path.

Darlington and Stockton Times: Grassington from the Dales Way

For the next four miles the path follows the west bank of the River Wharfe all the way to Kettlewell. Keep the river close and you cannot go wrong. The glacial silt has left a rich but often wet valley bed, perfect for bird watching. On a recent visit I was able to spot a curlew, lapwing and even viewed a heron gracefully exiting the river.

Read more: Amazing limestone scenery on Settle Loop walk

After two miles a footbridge leads over to Starbotton, one of the most attractive and unspoilt villages in the Dales, well worth a ten-minute detour. Another village which is worth exploring is Kettlewell which is slightly larger than Buckden and Starbotton and has a fine history stretching back over 1,000 years.

For the walk, cross the river to its east side on the quiet road opposite the bus stop (right fork leading to a small roundabout). Follow this road for nearly a mile, passing the popular religious retreat at Scargill House, a spectacular-looking building.

Darlington and Stockton Times: Buckden to Grassington walk map

The hard graft on this walk comes next, a track climbing 100 metres up the hillside through open fields and finally into the woods. There is a gate just before emerging from the woods, take the path to the right and do not continue climbing directly up the hillside.

For the remainder of the walk keep heading just east of south on an obvious path (the Dales Way), enjoying the continually wonderful views of Wharfedale, Littondale and some of the best limestone scenery the Dales can offer.

Read more: A walk to find the hidden treasures of Malham Tarn

This is at its best after one and a quarter miles at the Conistone Pie, a distinctive outcrop that can be seen for miles around. Across the valley to the right is Kilnsey Crag, an overhanging cliff popular with climbers.

Darlington and Stockton Times: Conistone Dib from above

There are five miles of walking to Grassington with distinctive features and consistently excellent views. The first can be seen soon after passing Conistone Pie, a dry deep valley on your right known as "the Dib" leads steeply in to the dale below. Further along the path passes an impressive limestone kiln, one of many in the area.

The limestone was heated in the kiln and quicklime was produced, the lime diluted and spread in the nearby fields to improve the fertility of the soils for agricultural purposes. Look to your left and a second kiln is visible on the hillside. From the kiln the track carries on south until the track starts to descend.

Follow the well marked signs over a number of dry stone walls (mix of stiles and gates) as it drops in to the top end of Grassington.

Walk facts

Distance: Roughly 11 miles.

Height to climb: 230m (750 feet).

Start: SE 003637. The car park in Grassington where the bus also leaves from.

Difficulty: Medium. Quite a long walk but straightforward and easy to follow.

Refreshments: Grassington has a good range of places to eat and drink, as does Kettlewell mid way on the walk.

Be prepared: The route description and sketch map only provide a guide to the walk. You must take out and be able to read a map (O/S Explorer OL2/OL30) and in cloudy/misty conditions a compass. You must also wear the correct clothing and footwear for the outdoors. Whilst every effort is made to provide accurate information, walkers head out at their own risk.

Please observe the Countryside Code and park sensibly.

  • Jonathan Smith runs Where2walk, a walking company based in the Yorkshire Dales. He has published three books on walking in the Dales, The Yorkshire 3 Peaks, The Dales 30 mountains and Walks without Stiles. All these books (and more) are available direct from the Where2walk website. Book a navigation (map and compass skills) training day near Settle (final available date October 14) or a bespoke day for a private group. All dates and details are on, which also features hundreds of walks across Yorkshire and beyond, from easy strolls to harder climbs.