Walking: Top marks for this Yorkshire Dales adventure

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A lovely autumnal day of sun and scudding cloud ensured that this circuit was one of the best of the year.

A combination of good weather, outstanding scenery and a delightful mix of terrain left all members of our party with no option but to give it top marks. Hope you find the same conditions.

Rylstone was named by the first Saxon farmers – it was originally known as Rilston which means village or settlement (from the Saxon “ton”) by the brook (from rill, a small stream). Its most famous residents were the ill-fated Nortons who lived at medieval Rylstone Hall on a site now occupied by Manor House Farm. In a field opposite the farm, on the eastern side of Chapel Lane, can be seen the indentations and hollows of the hall’s fish ponds.

The Nortons played a leading role in the complex politics of the Tudor years until they meddled once too often and lost their lands and, in one or two cases, their heads. First, in 1536, they joined the Pilgrimage of Grace, an attempt to halt Henry VIII’s suppression of the monasteries. The rebellion failed but the Nortons, who had stayed very much in the background, escaped the executioner. Others didn’t - the northern leader of the revolt, Robert Aske, of Aske, near Richmond, was hanged in heavy chains at Clifford’s Tower, York, until he died.

The Nortons’ luck ran out when they next took the field, this time in the Rising of the North of 1569. This small-scale version of the Pilgrimage of Grace – a second attempt to re-establish the old Catholic religion – was led by Henry Norton, of Rylstone, and Thomas Markenfield, of Markenfield Hall, near Ripon.

Elizabeth I crushed the revolt and 900 rebels were put to death in Yorkshire. Norton fled to Holland, but two of his sons were detained and executed in 1570. The family lands were forfeited to the Crown and their Rylstone estate was subsequently purchased by the Cliffords of Skipton Castle, with whom the Nortons had feuded for years over hunting rights and land boundaries.

Note: The Eller Beck on Linton Moor is crossed by makeshift stepping stones – the beck is narrow and the passage easy. But it could be problematical after lengthy heavy rain, so time your visit for a dry spell. Otherwise, it’s boots off for a paddle.

Parking: Use the layby on the lefthand side of the B6265 on the northern edge of Rylstone on the way through to Threshfield. Alternatively, park in the road to Hetton by the village pond.



8 miles: Allow 3 ½ – 5 hours. Map: O/S OL 2 Yorkshire Dales Southern and Western areas.

From the layby, cross the busy B6265 with care, turn right along the grass verge for 50 yards and then turn left at fingerpost for Manor House Farm along an access road to St Peter’s Church.

The church looks medieval but is, in fact, an impressive rebuild of 1852. A priest was first recorded at “Rilston” as early as the 12th century. In 1524 Geoffrey Procter, a member of a prominent Dales family which had its main seat nearby at Friars Head, Winterburn, paid for chantry masses to be said at “the chapel at Rilston”.

At the church, leave the road and walk alongside the church wall, through a walkers’ gate at end of church wall and through the gate ahead and then go straight across to a fingerpost at a gateway (Manor House Farm to your left).

Press on along vehicle track to a gate across the track and then continue on a fine green lane (Chapel Lane). Follow it for a good half mile to arrive at a fingerpost pointing back to Rylstone just before entering the B6265. Turn right at fingerpost along a good track and follow it through the back of Cracoe, avoiding any leftward options.

The lane eventually sweeps left (don’t go straight on up the private access track) to arrive at a T-junction at an Access Land notice. Turn left to the B6265, cross it to the farm shop entrance (cafe) and turn right along pavement.

At the lefthand bend, cross the road with care and take the lane opposite (Thorpe Lane) past a blue cycle route sign for Appletreewick. After about 500 yards, as lane sweeps right, go straight ahead along farm access drive at fingerpost for Linton.

Follow the concrete drive into the farm complex at Threapland to a two-sided fingerpost and take the lefthand path straight ahead to caravans. Take the tarred track going straight ahead, between vans, to gain a two-sided fingerpost on your right.

Turn right through gate and then turn left along wall to gain a fingerpost and walkers’ gate and then go a quarter right along a green sward (as per fingerpost) through the reeds with the giant Swinden Quarry ahead. As you near end of field, spot the fingerpost with yellow top to your left.

1: Gain it, go through copse, through a walkers’ gate, over footbridge, up the banking to fingerpost and turn right along vehicle tracks to red-and-white posts. Go under the “goal posts”, past fingerpost, and onward along vehicle tracks to next fingerpost and go half right to a gated stile.

Press on with wire fence on your right, go past a lone stone gate post, and straight across field to a wall and stile, leaving the fence. Go through the stile at the wall and then on along a narrow path through the vegetation to a broken fingerpost.

At the armless fingerpost, there is a split in the path – take the right fork to continue with the wired-off Mires Beck to your left. The narrow path through the vegetation is always strong over the ground. It leads to a fingerpost, stile and footbridge.

Now turn left into field corner and then turn right to gain next fingerpost, cross a footbridge and onward in line of fingerpost. At next fingerpost, cross the stile and turn right along wall, over footbridge, and go straight across field to fence corner and keep on with wire fence and broken wall on your right.

Go through a gated stile and on by fence to next stile and continue by wall and then turn right round wall corner and follow the wall and then fence to a gate to right of a cabin. Go through gate and follow walled track into Linton. Go straight on past Fountaine Inn into road and turn left.

After about 400 yards, go off right along vehicle track at fingerpost for Tarns Lane, soon crossing bed of the old Skipton-Grassington railway. Do NOT sweep right with the main track, but go straight ahead between walls. Follow this strong track to regain the B6265 (Tarns Lane) and take the broad track opposite (Moor Lane).

Follow the walled track to its end and then continue over Linton Moor on a green track with the ridge of the huge Swinden Quarry to your left. Part of quarry soon appears to your left, as does the Cracoe War Memorial on Cracoe Fell.

2: Now stay alert! When you are level with the start of the small wood to your left across the Eller Beck, spot a narrow path going half left down to the beck. Ignore it – it is too steep – and continue for another 60 yards, past stones over a boggy patch, and then go half left to strike a cross path within 30 yards and turn sharp left down to the Eller Beck.

Cross beck via do-it-yourself stepping stones, turn left for a few paces and then swing right up the banking, through gate and then go half left up a diagonal rake to wall corner. Continue on the green sward with barn on skyline.

As you approach a wall with barn up to your right, there is a vague fork in the green track – take the right branch going up towards the barn to gain the wall. Turn right along wall to barn, pass to its left and then continue along righthand side of the wall ahead (pass to the right of a stone gate post; two more gate posts to its left).

When wall on your left turns left, go a quarter left down the field to a wall and spot the gate ahead. Pass through to enter a brilliant walled track, Swinden Lane, and follow this to arrive – eventually - at gate and fingerpost. Turn right, still along the walled track. Continue to pass under the Swinden Quarry railway, the only surviving section of the old Skipton-Grassington railway.

Press on to the B6265 on edge of Cracoe and turn right along the minor road signposted Hetton and Gargrave. Although quiet, this road requires care. Walk single file, facing the traffic.

After a good half mile, just before level crossing, turn left at fingerpost for Rylstone and follow wall up the field with Rylstone Cross on skyline. The cross was erected in 1813 to mark the Peace of Paris and victory over Napoleon Bonaparte. Peace didn’t last long – Napoleon escaped captivity on the Isle of Elba, raised a new army and was finally defeated at Waterloo in 1815.

Go through gate to enter an enclosed track (Mucky Lane) and follow this to the finishing layby.