From forest to moorland – this Yorkshire walk is a Sunday afternoon delight

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Fancy a dawdling Sunday afternoon stroll?

This should fit the bill, a delightful sylvan circuit round the western ridge of the Washburn Valley, winding its way through two popular forests, the Beecroft Moor Plantation and Timble Ings.

There’s much more on offer here, though, than forest fare – the route touches upon wild Denton Moor and there is a lovely finish through deeply-rural High Snowden.

Timble is a Domesday Book settlement recorded in 1086 as part of the Honour of Knaresborough, one of the biggest Norman estates in the country. Later, it was incorporated into the Forest of Knaresborough, a Royal hunting chase, and it formed one of the outer reaches of the chase which stretched beyond Timble to Greenhow Hill.

The hamlet will always be associated with the Witches of Timble. This was a strange tale of unexplainable happenings from the first part of the 17th century. In 1622, the poet and scholar Edward Fairfax, a member of one of Yorkshire’s most illustrious families, who lived at Newhall Farm, now lost beneath the waters of Swinsty Reservoir, claimed that two of his daughters, Helen and Elizabeth, had fallen under the spell of a coven of witches from nearby Timble.

Fairfax said the girls had collapsed in a deep trance and had seen visions. The so-called Witches of Timble were tried twice at York Assizes but were acquitted on each occasion on the testimony of their parishioners and the Vicar of Fewston.

In the centre of the community, near the Timble Inn, is the Robinson Library named after a local man who emigrated to America in the latter half of the 19th century and became a successful businessman and head of two New York banks. He had the library built in 1891 as a gift to his home village and a lasting memorial to himself.

TIMBLE AND ELLARCARR PIKE

5 ½ miles: Allow 2 ½ - 3 ½ hours. Map: O/S Explorer 297 Lower Wharfedale

Park in the road in the centre of Timble in the vicinity of the red phone box and the Robinson Library near the Timble Inn. Set out along the road in a westerly direction - towards the Otley-Blubberhouses road - passing a red post box set into wall on your left and a covered well on your right to a fingerpost for Timble Ridge and turn right.

Go past right side of a property, passing to left of old metal gate, and then follow left side of a broken wall to a clump of trees and pass between wooden gate posts ahead and then go past a stone gate post.

Follow wall on your left up the field, enter next field and continue with wall on your left. At field end, cross a stile in wall corner (gate to right) and go half left over the field aiming just right of a farm (Ridge Top Farm).

Enter road, cross it into the Beecroft Moor Plantation (2-sided fingerpost), turn right into wood for 7/8 paces only and then turn left down through the wood with wall a few yards to your left. After about 50 yards, step over a fallen log and continue for 30 yards to a marker post and a cross path and turn left (note: this is a course laid out for mountain bikers, so take care).

You will soon join the wall on your left. Press on, eventually ignoring a stile and gate in the wall corner on your left. At this point, the path makes a sharp right turn into an “S” bend and continues to wind down to a cross track – bear left along it, passing white arrow on tree.

Soon, pass between logs (the lefthand one has two yellow “tabs”) and, within 10 paces, as track sweeps right, turn LEFT to exit wood. Now follow a walled track out to the Otley-Blubberhouses road at Rues Farm.

Turn left past Rues Farm for about 80 yards to an access drive on your right and turn right down this track, soon passing to the left of ornamental gates. Go past a house and then, as gravel track sweeps left, go straight on to gain a cross path and turn left.

1: This splendid path eventually becomes a packman’s trod of flagstones. Ignore a stile and arrow on your left below a house which is being renovated. The Gill Beck is on your right. Enjoy this sparkling interlude (should the sun be shining!).

The path soon turns left to pass between wooden gate posts at a blanked-out arrow to enter the forest at Timble Ings. Continue for a short distance to a vehicle track with a marker post with four white discs and turn RIGHT.

Follow this broad forest road to a junction with another forest road and go straight ahead for about 80 yards to a marker post on your right at a tiny parking area. Now bear left with the main forest track and follow it all the way up the slope for three-quarters of a mile to where the track ends in a clearing with an information board for Timble Ponds.

Turn RIGHT and follow the fine track through the wood until, eventually, with a wall ahead, you will arrive at a marker post on your right with faded arrow and a path going off right. Ignore this path. Continue on main path, turning left and right, and then, within 60 yards, turn left again through a bridle gate.

After 50 yards, turn right on to Denton Moor and follow the stout path into the moor to gain a prominent boundary stone (with “D” for Denton on it) on the ridge ahead (Lippersley Ridge). At boundary stone, turn left. This splendid path – known as High Badger Gate - runs down the spine of the ridge to close with wall and Timble Ings forest on your left.

2: Keep going, winding through the heather, with wall to your left to – eventually – pass a cottage (Ivy House) on your left to arrive on top of insignificant Ellarcarr Pike at wall corner with gate to your left.

Go through gate and saunter down the access track for about 700 yards to a cattle grid and ladder stile (on your right) and turn right over stile. Cross the field in line of arrow to next ladder stile (broken). Cross it with care and go half right over next field (as arrow) to a gate in field corner (yellow tape).

Continue in line of a metal arrow over the next field to the far field corner, go through gate in field corner and straight across next field (arrow) to a ladder stile. Cross the Otley-Blubberhouses road and take the path opposite and go down the wall to a walkers’ gate and stile with three arrows.

Turn LEFT along the narrow field to a gateway with arrow and continue with wall on your right through the area known as High Snowden. Go through the lefthand of two gates ahead and keep on by fence on your right. Go through a gate with arrow and straight across field, descending to pass through the next gateway just before a field barn.

Go past front of barn and along left edge of field, by the wall, to next gateway, pass through and turn left (arrow) to a stile in wall corner. Cross it and turn right (arrow slightly out of line) and walk down middle of field (no path) to end of field, avoiding any temptation to join trees to your left. At field end, spot yellow tape on a tree and a half-hidden path entering trees to your left.

Go down steps, cross a footbridge over the Timble Gill Beck and turn left up edge of field, past a post with yellow paint. Follow left edge of two fields up to Timble, entering road at a stile and fingerpost. Go straight ahead to the road junction and turn right to the finish.