Sunday 9 April 2023

Dairy Days - A Walk in Wensleydale

 A Walk in Wensleydale - Askrigg Circular - 4 miles - Easy going

There are five walks in the Dairy Days series all centred on the once prolific dairy industry in Wensleydale.  They were produced by the Yorkshire Dales National Park to complement their Dairy Days Project that researched & recorded memories and stories of milk production and cheese making in the area.  Copies of the walk guides can be found in the Dales Countryside Museum in Hawes and there  is a set at Pry House Farm.

The walk starts in the delightful village of Askrigg (one of my favourites) with the iconic Skeldale House made famous in the BBC All Creatures Great & Small series as the home & vetinary practice of James Herriot.  Delightful also because it has a fabulous cafe, good pubs and beautiful craft shop.

Begin by walking out of the village towards Hawes (right as you look at this photo).  Shortly you will come to the primary school on your right. On the opposite side of the road look for a finger post, slightly hidden in some shrubs, marked Yorebridge.  Follow this path for a few yards to another flat stile. Climb over and bear right. You are now on the dismantled railway line which has long since grassed over. The walk takes you behind the old station (now home to Bainbridge Vets) and follows the railway embankment to Chantry Cottage.

   Pass through the gated stile at end of the Chantry Cottage and over this footbridge.  Look right and see the stong stone bridge supports that would have formed the bridge for the trains to pass over the stream.  If its time for a break or a paddle look right at the end of the footbridge to discover this gorgeous little packhorse bridge and place to sit and rest, refresh and cool your feet in the water! Don't miss it, its only a few yards off the path.

Back to the wooden footbridge and the path is easy to follow across the grassy field to Yorebridge where the bridge crosses the River Ure and the where the impressive Yorebridge House Hotel stands.

The path goes straight across the road to another gated stile and fingerpost opposite.  Please watch out for traffic on this busy-ish stretch of road.

Make your way up hill to the metal swing stile that is clearly visible. This is the only confusing part of the whole walk as the waymarker clearly points left along the dismantled railway line but our walk goes straight ahead to the farm at the top of the photograph.  This is Yorescott Farm.  Look out for the small gated stile next to the field gate that goes into the farmyard (on the right hand side of the house as you look at this photograph).

Walk across the yard and down to the road.  If the main gates into the farm are closed there is a small gate immediately to side of the Yorescott Farm sign. It might seem strange walking into someone's farmyard but its okay, this is a public right of way.  As you leave the farm turn left, walk up the road only a short way to the fingerpost which is clearly visible on the right hand side of the road.

Pass through the stile, across the field and follow the waymarkers through pastures that climb up to a stile at the top of the hill.  The path then follows a line to the edge of a small wood and a small stream to the hamlet of Skell Gill.

If the water is low you may be able to cross the stream here at the ford.  Otherwise just a little further on is a stone bride which when I did this walk in March 2023 it was being re-built.  Fortunately a temporary bridge had been provided so I was able to get to the other side without getting my feet wet!

Once over the water follow the quiet tarmac road for about half a mile until on a corner / junction you see a finger post pointing through a gate and along a track.  This track takes you to gated stile into Mill Gill wood.  Turn right through the gate and along the path although it is well worth the short diversion to Mill Gill Force, a very spectacular waterfall that, when in spate, can equal Hardraw Force.

The walk along the  woodland path, high above the steep ravine down to the river, is quite magical. If there are such things as fairies then I am sure they live here!  
The path takes you down to yet another wooden footbridge that crosses the fast flowing and ever fascinating stream.  Follow the track out of the woods and across a field to a gate that opens into a lane that leads back into Askrigg and journeys end. 
This blog describes the main circular walk and not the 1&1/2 mile extension around Askrigg bottoms as  shown on the right of the map which is also a very pleasant stroll along the river.  Enjoy!