There are two routes to the "Dales 30" summit of Yockenthwaite Moor. One from near Yockenthwaite Farm to the south, which is straightforward but lacks interest, and this one from Semer Water to the north. A remote walk which can be boggy in the peat hags at this time of the year.

Park in the small hamlet of Marsett, cross to the south bank of Marsett Beck and head east to cross the main stream out of Semer Water. Semer Water is the second largest natural lake in the Yorkshire Dales (only Malham Tarn is larger), is 800m long, has a nature reserve to its south and attracts anglers, water sport enthusiasts and nature lovers alike.

There are very few natural bodies of water in the area due to the porous nature of the bedrock (mainly limestone). Climb steeply east up a path joining a track leading into Stalling Busk.

Darlington and Stockton Times: Yockenthwaite Moor start of the hags

From Stalling Busk head a few metres north on the road then join a footpath climbing steeply south to the old drovers' track linking Wensleydale and Upper Wharfedale. Follow the track for a little over two miles of easy walking. At a sharp 45-degree bend and gate leave the track and follow a wall turning into a fence heading SW. The first three quarters of a mile is straightforward on good turf. However, as the fence gradually bends towards the west, the terrain deteriorates into peat hags.

Peat is an organic soil that forms in cold, acidic, waterlogged conditions. Mosses and plants such as sphagnum grow and die creating the thick layers of peat. Peat itself is good for the environment with its high carbon content and its capacity to absorb and hold water reducing flooding on lowlands. However, much of our peat has been used as drainage, grazing and moorland burning creating a drier peat that breaks down, giving the unpleasant peat bogs. The flatness of some of the high moorland accelerates this breakdown and creates the "rivers" of peat which make walking on Yockenthwaite Moor so tricky.

Darlington and Stockton Times: Yockenthwaite Moor map

It is important to keep the fence in sight and pick the best route, there is no path. Ignore the newer fence coming in from your left, do not follow these (check your compass) and head west to the summit trig point, one mile of peat walking.

Darlington and Stockton Times: Yockenthwaite Moor Trig Point

From the trig point follow the fence, which turns into a wall, north for a further three quarters of a mile. A gate in a wall running at right angles marks the start of shooting country. From here continue north past some shooting butts to another wall after half a mile. Follow the wall NE (to the right) to an obvious access road. This road leads downhill, past some forestry on the left, to Raydale House. Take the main access road to the farm and follow it for one mile back to Marsett.

For a memorable day it is possible to park at the NE end of Semer Water and include a pleasant circuit of the lake in the walk as described in "the circuit of Semer Water" walk published four weeks ago.

Walk facts:

Distance: Roughly 9.5 miles.

Height to climb: 430m (1,420 feet).

Start: SD 903862. Park considerately in the village, there are some spaces.

Difficulty: Hard. The terrain is rough for a good proportion of the walk. A map and compass are essential.

Refreshments: Head back to Bainbridge or Askrigg with their choice of pubs and cafes.

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 is the owner of Where2walk, a walking company based in the Yorkshire Dales. He has written 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 or a bespoke day for a private group. The first available day is March 23. Join our Dales 30 Weekenders in Hawes and Sedbergh. also features hundreds of walks across Yorkshire and beyond, from easy strolls to harder climbs.