Walking in Yorkshire: Enjoy the green rolling landscape of border country

Once upon a time, the good people of Paythorne could describe themselves as proud Yorkshire men and women.

But then, in 1974, in the great local government shake-up following the Maud Report, they were turned almost overnight into Lancastrians!

Yes, folks, this is the confusing corner on the western edge of Yorkshire - some 10 miles west of Skipton - where communities swapped allegiance from White Rose to Red Rose with hardly a say in the matter. To be deprived of your Yorkshire status must have been a hard pill to swallow indeed.

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However, this part of the Yorkshire-Lancaster border still looks and feels very much like the county of the White Rose. In fact, it is a continuation of the green landscape of the Yorkshire Dales – the National Park boundary is less than four miles to the north-east at Hellifield – rather than the dark, satanic hills of the adjoining South Pennines.

This is a quiet land of gentle footpaths and bridleways wending their way through an attractive environment sheltered from the rush and rigour of the 21st century. On offer, besides the peace and tranquillity, are long-distance views towards the Three Peaks and Barden Moor. A further inducement is the handy local, the Buck Inn, situated opposite the parking area.

Paythorne is ancient with roots stretching back to before the Norman conquest. It was recorded in Domesday Book, the Conqueror’s great land survey of 1086, as the property of one of the most important barons of the period, William de Percy, whose main seat was Spofforth Castle near Wetherby.

The Percys were later ennobled as, first, Earls and then Dukes of Northumberland. They purchased Alnwick in Northumberland in 1309 and, as their power and influence increased in the north-east, they made it their main house, as it is to this day.

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PARKING: Take the A59 west of Skipton to Gisburn. On entering village, at first roundabout, turn right on the A682 (for Kendal and Settle) and follow it for 1.7 miles – don’t overshoot! - to a road sign for Paythorne and, here, turn left to the village. Park on spare ground opposite the Buck Inn.


5 ¾ miles: Allow 2 ½ – 3 ½ hours. Map: OL41 Forest of Bowland

From the parking area opposite the Buck Inn at Paythorne, walk back along the road by which you entered the village with the Methodist Chapel (1830) on your right. Continue on road, descending to the sharp lefthand bend and bridge spanning the River Ribble. Do NOT cross the bridge.

Instead, turn right through a gate (bridleway fingerpost) and go straight ahead, over a tiny stone bridge, and onward up a sunken track. Follow the track all the way, eventually through a gate across the track, to arrive at a cross track with a “Permissive Access” arrow pointing left. Ignore it!

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Instead, cross over the vehicle track and go through the gate ahead (blue arrow). Follow fence on your right, past a field barn, and then bear left with the fence and follow it to a bridle gate (blue arrow) to left of a five-barred gate with Loftrans Farm to your right.

Pass through and go straight ahead to join the farm access track and press on, soon passing through a gate (open, on our visit) with three blue arrows on fence posts on your right. Thirty yards beyond these blue arrows, turn left through a bridle gate and go straight across the field (no path).

On crossing field, turn right through rough, grassy ground, crossing a tiny stream, and continue along what looks like a wide, open green lane. There is a fence and beck on your left. The going soon improves under foot. This is an ancient byway, the unmade Loftrans Lane.

After a few hundred yards, you will pass through a gate with blue arrow pointing straight on – STOP! Unfortunately, the way ahead is badly overgrown and walkers appear to escape to the right to use the farm access track. However, just before entering farm track, it is possible to press on through the vegetation, with the route opening up after about 100 yards.

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Note: The going still remains overgrown and uneven, so the farm track may be the best option, but remember it is not a public right of way. The choice is yours!

Both bridleway and farm track join at a cattle grid – press on along the farm track which soon becomes a tarred lane and follow it emerge in the Bolton-by-Bowland to Hellifield road.

1: Turn left for about 150 yards and then turn right along a tarred access track, over cattle grid, for Lord Farm (footpath sign on lefthand side of road). Soon, Penyghent opens up to your right.

After a short half mile, with Lord Farm to your right, cross a cattle grid and then, after 50 yards, cross a footbridge and stile on your right. Put your back against the stile and go half right over the field to a gate which can be seen 40/50 yards to the right of a black barn at Lord Farm.

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Go through this gate into the farm track and turn left to the farm, pass to the right of the farmhouse, and exit premises through metal gate (tiniest of buildings to right of gate).

Go straight ahead along right edge of field and follow the fence all the way to a gate on far side of field. Do NOT go through gate – continue alongside the fence, keeping fence on your right. Follow the fence to a gate and continue along right edge of field to next gate and cross the stile a few yards beyond left side of gate.

Continue down right edge of field towards a farm (Hengill Farm). Go through gate into farm premises and go straight ahead down concrete drive to its end and then turn right along vehicle track to exit premises.

Follow the vehicle track in fine style over Hyles Moor with Penhill appearing to your right. At a T-junction of farm tracks, turn right and follow the vehicle track out to the Bolton-by-Bowland to Hellifield road.

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Turn left for about 200 yards and then turn right along the track to Tewit Hall Farm. At the farm, go through gate to right of farmhouse into farm yard and go straight down the small farm yard to a gate ahead and exit premises between barns into field and a vehicle track.

2: Immediately, leave the vehicle track and go down left edge of field, passing a burnt-out tree trunk and a huge log and continue with fence and ditch on your left. When fence turns left, go slightly right over the field (yellow arrow out of line) aiming for what looks like a collection of wooden gates and fences well to the left of a right-angled concrete wall and concrete base.

On arriving in field corner, you will find a waymarked stile and gate. Either use the gate (easier) or the stiles (the correct way!). If you use the gate, immediately turn left down edge of field with a ditch on your left (if you use the stiles, go straight ahead down left edge of field).

At field end, go through old metal gate (bath tub) and continue by fence on your left. Go through next gate (beck to your right) and continue down a wide, open green lane, scattered with trees (the unmade Intake Lane). It is much easier to go down the field edge just to the right of the green lane. A caravan park pops into view.

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Enter caravan park via a stile and go straight ahead with caravans to your right and a line of trees to your left. After about 80 yards, turn left up steps and then turn right alongside hedge.

Go up more steps - and ignore the yellow arrow pointing straight on as it is no longer possible to pass along the backs of the caravans ahead. Instead, go half left between caravans into the park road with the park’s Information Suite to your left.

Turn right to the end of the row of caravans on your right and then turn right for a few yards to spot a waymarked stile on your left. Cross it and go down left side of field (as arrow) and then go diagonally left down field to stile and fingerpost visible in bottom corner. Turn right along road to finish.