Driving between Skipton and Grassington, the eye is drawn to two monuments high on the moors to the east. Cracoe Monument and the cross at Rylstone lie on the fringes of Embsay Moor and are easily climbed from the dale below.

Park near the Angel Inn at Hetton and take the footpath heading east across open land, crossing a small river and climbing into the village of Rylstone. Despite its size, Rylstone has a few claims to fame: the Women’s Institute (shared with Cracoe) provided the inspiration for the hit film Calendar Girls, whilst the poet William Wordsworth wrote the "White Doe of Rylstone", an ode to the northern uprising against Elizabeth I in 1569. More practically, St Peter's Church is a fine building listed by English Heritage.

Darlington and Stockton Times: Cracoe walk map

From the village walk south along the busy B6265 for 300 metres before taking a lane to the left. After a further 300 metres the lane bends right, take the second (signposted) farm track heading just south of east up the fell side. As you climb past a small copse the track becomes increasingly indistinct and a footpath continues the climb on the edge of the vast moorland that is Embsay Moor.

It can be a bleak or lovely place depending on the weather. Fortunately the walk does not head on this remote plateau. Join a footpath that is circling the edge of the moor and turn left (north) and a short climb to the spectacularly situated Rylstone Cross.

Rylstone Cross has a chequered history. Originally a stone cross was built to commemorate Rylstone Man but after an interlude where a wooden cross replaced the stone, the fine monolith which exists today was built in 1947.

Darlington and Stockton Times: Rylstone Cross over Cracoe

On leaving the cross the path heads north east close to the edge of the moor, it can be muddy at this time of the year. The second striking feature of the scar (and the views from the valley below) is the stone obelisk of Cracoe Monument. There is no doubt as to the history of this, it is a fitting memorial to the locals who died in the First World War. Their names are carved in to the Yorkshire gritstone.

From the monument it is worth walking east for a short while to views over the large reservoirs of Upper and Lower Barden, set amongst the heather of Embsay Moor. North of the reservoirs is the highest point on the moor, Thorpe Fell, but it is largely trackless with rough walking and not really worthy of a visit.

Darlington and Stockton Times: Rylstone Cross, the Memorial

Return to the path north of the obelisk and drop steeply just north of west down the steep, trackless slopes towards a farm track (Fell Lane). The going is a little rough but improves on the track which leads in to the village of Cracoe. Once in Cracoe turn left on to the main road running through the village and just after it drops to cross a stream take the minor road to the right. This will lead back to Hetton and the start part of your walk.

Walk facts:

Distance: Roughly seven miles.

Height to climb: 370m (1,200 feet).

Start: SD 959587. Park on the road near the Angel in Hetton.

Difficulty: Medium. There is a trackless descent from Cracoe Monument but the rest is on good - if often muddy - paths.

Refreshments: The Angel at Hetton is one of the best restaurants in the Dales.

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