WHARFEDALE splits at its head. To the east a road winds its way steeply towards Wensleydale via the long valley of Bishopdale. To the west the embryonic Wharfe continues up Langstrothdale for five miles before becoming lost in the marshes of Oughtershaw. On this interesting walk, however, all is laid out before you.

From the large car park in Buckden head north out the gate and onto the slopes of Buckden Pike. An excellent wide track rises gently for half a mile through some woodland before breaking out into the open countryside at a gate.

Already the views across the valley to Birks and Langstrothdale are excellent.

At a second gate ignore any temptation to leave the main track and take the path to the right climbing up Buckden Pike (the best of the Dales 30 mountains, but leave it for another day). After a further half mile of flat walking the first of a series of waterfalls appears on your right. This is Cow Close Falls, particularly impressive after many months of rain.

A dry stone wall stops you getting close to the falls but there is still a good view. Carry on a few metres to the road and Cray High Bridge where there's a good view of the second waterfall, the Cray Gill Falls. Again this is non access land so you're unable to get close, but you can enjoy the views.

Darlington and Stockton Times: Cray waterfalls, near the pub on the walk through Wharfedale

Follow the road downhill to the hamlet of Cray, which is little more than a large farm and an excellent pub (the White Lion).

More tumbling water can be seen on your left as you walk down, and opposite the pub it is possible to get up close to the river. It's a good spot.

Turn into the farmyard and follow the small footpath signs just uphill from the buildings. Just past the farm there's a divide in the footpath – keep to the right/higher path.

For the next two-and-a-half miles to Yockenthwaite Farm the footpath contours the hillside and opens out into consistently impressive views. To your left Upper Wharfedale is seen at its best, to your right the hillside marks the flanks of Yockenthwaite Fell (another Dales 30 mountain).

Darlington and Stockton Times: Wharfedale walk map

There are two marker points on this section of the walk – a footbridge near the start and an option at Scar House to cut the corner of the walk and drop down to the valley floor. It's best to carry on, though.

After entering some woods you will emerge above Yockenthwaite Farm which recently featured as Helen’s farm in All Creatures Great and Small, but is really more famous for its diversification into a breakfast cereal producer. You should try their granola!

On a wide farm track drop down into the farmyard and take the short detour over the pack horse bridge and to the famous red post box to take a photo. The farm looks stunning. Return to the farm and take the riverside path that starts to return all the way to Buckden along Langstrothdale. Keep to the northern banks of the Wharfe for one-and-a-half miles until you reach the hamlet of Hubberholme. The path is good and forms part of the Dales Way.

Darlington and Stockton Times: Yockenthwaite Farm postbox

At Hubberholme cross the river opposite the George Inn. Turn left along the road and walk for 400 metres until a signpost on your left directs you over a field and back onto the banks of the river. Follow this path back into Buckden.


Distance: Roughly eight miles.

Height to climb: 270m (885 feet).

Start: Buckden SD 942773. Large National Park car park.

Difficulty: Medium. On good paths throughout which can get muddy at this time of the year.

Refreshments: The Buck Inn in Buckden or the White Lion and the George Inn (both closed Monday and Tuesday) are en-route.

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 30) 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 of which, and more, are available direct from the Where2walk website.

Also on the site you can book a navigation (map and compass skills) training day near Settle or a bespoke day for a private group, the first available days for which are March 23. Look out for the new Dales 30 weekend in Hawes and guided walks across the Yorkshire Dales, including the Three Peaks.

Where2walk.co.uk also features hundreds of walks across Yorkshire and beyond, from easy strolls to harder climbs.