What a cracking circuit! Should you be lucky with the weather – as we were, in spades – you will have a day out to savour.
The highlight is a network of stout tracks enticing the walker to an adventurous journey over three wild moors – Threshfield, Boss and Linton – overlooking the heart of glorious Wharfedale.
These quiet uplands with far-reaching views offer the chance to blow away the cobwebs, escape the rigours of the workday week and recharge the batteries. The outlook is stunning throughout with wide panoramas eastwards to the silhouette of Cracoe Moor and northwards to the high ridges of Upper Wharfedale. Don’t miss this one!
The starting point, Linton (near Grassington) is one of the north’s prettiest villages, as a plaque on the village green proudly testifies. Here, you will find the quintessential country pub, the Fountaine Inn, a cluster of picture-postcard cottages and an expansive green running down to the clear waters of the Linton Beck.
The Fountaine, a firm favourite with walkers and Sunday lunchers, takes its name from a local-lad-made-good, Richard Fountaine, who was born at Linton in 1639. As a young man, he set out for London to seek his fortune and became a prosperous timber merchant, helping to rebuild the capital after the Great Fire of 1666.
But he never forgot the place of his birth and on his death in 1721 he left money to build a hospital for the poor of his home village. The extravagant design - you can see the fancy dome just beyond the pub - was the work of Sir John Vanbrugh, architect of Blenheim Palace and Castle Howard.
The hospital (or almshouse) provided accommodation for six old people. Nearly 300 years later, it still offers cheap accommodation for six local people - two sets of couples and two single people.
LINTON and THRESHFIELD MOOR
6 ½ miles. Allow: 3 – 4 hours. Map: O/S OL2 Yorkshire Dales southern and western areas
Park by the roadside in the centre of Linton, either along the top of the village green or in the road near the bus shelter. From the bus shelter, start out along the road in an easterly direction – towards Grassington – for a few yards only and, just before the road bridge, turn left at fingerpost for Threshfield along a vehicle track (Well Lane) with Linton Beck on your right. Across the beck to your front right is the imposing residence of White Abbey.
White Abbey is the former home of the romantic novelist Halliwell Sutcliffe who died in 1932. The son of a Victorian headmaster of Bingley Grammar School, Sutcliffe wrote some fifty historical novels, many set in the Dales. The name White Abbey gives a clue to the origins of the house - it is built on the site of a grange of Fountains Abbey.
Well Lane, on passing a high wall, narrows – press on in dream-like fashion to end of track, go through gate with a 2-sided fingerpost and take the lefthand path for B6265 and Threshfield. Follow the wall on your left and go over the bridge spanning the bed of the old Grassington railway.
The railway opened in 1902 to carry tourists into the Dales. Passenger services ceased in 1929, killed off by the new age of motor travel. Part of the line remains to take out limestone from the giant Swinden Quarry, near Cracoe, which we encounter later in this walk.
Now go a quarter right over the field and, on crossing field, pass through trees, between two broken walls - at an area of dirt where sheep have gathered - into the next field. Follow wall on your left with Threshfield to your front right and Grassington across the valley to your right. Pass through a broken wall and go half right down the field to enter the B6265 on edge of Threshfield.
Cross the road half left to a fingerpost for Grysedale Gate and go straight across the field (no path), passing just to the right of limestone boulder in mid field (wall now about 40 yards to your right). On passing the boulder, adjust your line to go a quarter left towards a cluster of farm buildings and the wall ahead. There is a line of trees along the wall – aim for right end of trees to root out a gated stile in the wall (yellow tape).
Cross the stile, descend the steps and go half left up the field (no path), winding between the tiny hillocks and with a barn down to your right. You will pass through scattered limestone boulders when a vague vehicle track appears over the ground. Gradually close with wall on your right and then follow the vehicle track by the wall to gain a 2-sided fingerpost.
Cross the stone stile and go straight ahead towards the gable end of a farmhouse (with barns to its right). Approach a gate and spot the stone-step stile and fingerpost to its right. Enter Grysedale Lane and turn right to Skirethorns.
The history of tiny Skirethorns stretches back to the days of the Viking invaders of the 10th century. The hamlet takes its name from the Old Norse skirr (bright or shining) and the Old Norse thorn – the place of the bright thorn bushes. It was first officially recorded in a land document of 1567.
1: At crossroads on edge of hamlet, turn left at fingerpost for Threshfield Moor and Grysedale Lane. Go up the walled track for 400/500 yards, past a property, to a fork in the track and take the left branch (fingerpost: Boss Moor), through a gate, and onward along the aptly-named Green Lane. The skyline to your left is Cracoe Fell and Rylstone Fell with the Cracoe War Memorial obelisk prominent.
A gradual climb now follows on to Threshfield Moor. At end of the walled track, go through the gate ahead on to the moor to enter Access Land where you have freedom to roam. Go straight ahead, soon crossing a plank bridge over the Grysedale Beck. Press on to strike a green vehicle track with a fingerpost just to your right and old pit workings (slag heap) ahead.
The pit workings formed part of Threshfield Colliery which covered a large area extending to your left. The colliery operated in the 19th century to produce cheap industrial coal to fire the smelt mills of the Grassington lead mines on the opposite side of Wharfedale.
Do NOT turn right. Instead, go half left, past the pit workings, to strike a vehicle track within a few yards and bear right along it up Threshfield Moor.
Go past a 2-sided fingerpost after 500 yards and press on up the moor, eventually gaining a 2-sided bridleway fingerpost at a fork and take the left branch. Now count out 100 paces or so to a flagstone “bridge” across a tiny culvert and, here, turn LEFT along tractor tracks down the moor towards a wall with ladder stile.
The tractor tracks lead to the wall, arriving at a gate – do not go through. Instead, turn left inside the wall and follow it across Boss Moor. Go past three ladder stiles to arrive at a gate where vehicle tracks come in from your right. Ignore gate.
Follow the vehicle tracks as they now leave the wall for a short distance. The tracks cross a tiny stream (Hamerton Hill Syke) just before another ladder stile – plough on by the wall to arrive in vehicle track at fingerpost at Hamerton Hill with a perfectly-sited lunch bench.
2: Turn left and follow the track down to a fingerpost and turn right along the bridleway to pass through a gate (or use stile). There is an immediately fork – take the right branch which goes straight on.
A good track now leads unerringly over the third moor of the day – Linton Moor – to approach, eventually, a copse of trees and the shallow ravine of the Eller Beck. Ahead is the back of the huge Swinden Quarry.
Just before the ravine of the Eller Beck and the trees, the track turns left to run along top of banking. It improves with every step to take us safely off the moor with Swinden Quarry on your right.
At end of path, pass through a gate to enter Moor Lane and stride out on a lovely downhill dash of just over half a mile to the B6265. Cross it and take the track opposite, flog up the hill and then enjoy the downhill gallop.
Enter a vehicle track and go straight ahead, over the old railway, to enter a road (Lauradale Lane) and bear left along it into Linton and the finish.