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Dales Trails

The view west whilst climbing onto Eastby Fell/photo by Arnold Underwood/Oct 2003

Embsay Reservoir/from a photo by Arnold Underwood/Oct 2003


Fell Walking in the Dales

The Yorkshire Dales are known best for their Limestone Landscapes, but just a few miles from the classic scenery around Malham, the grit-stone Barden Moor provides a dramatic contrast. This less frequented expanse of upland provides a perfect location for a summer stroll, with wide-ranging views and the waters of Barden and Embsay Reservoirs shimmering below. Easy access to the expanse of Barden Moor can be gained from the village of Embsay.

Note that access to the moors may be restricted during the grouse-shooting season (not Sundays). To confirm, contact the Estate Office at Bolton Abbey.

Fact File

Distance 13km (8 miles)
Time 4 hours
Grade *** Moderate
Map OS Explorer OL2 (Yorkshire Dales Central)
Start/Parking Embsay village car park (Grid Ref: SE 009 538)
Terrain Field & moorland paths, tracks & minor roads
nearest Town Skipton
Refreshments Pubs, shops, station buffet - open only on days when trains are running - in Embsay
Toilets Embsay Station
Public Transport Pennine Bus 214 from Skipton (not Sundays)
Suitable for all (dogs not permitted on Barden Moor)
Stiles 6

  1. (Start) From the car park head east along the road and turn left for Eastby. Opposite the church a flagstone path cuts diagonally across fields towards Eastby. Rejoin the road and walk into the village. Just after the road dips to cross a stream, turn left into a cul-de-sac of a few modern houses. Keep left round the side of the houses and you enter an enclosed path via a stile. This path climbs steadily above the village with improving retrospective views across Airedale with Pendle Hill in the distance. The ground may be hillocky at times but the upward trend is made without difficulty. The path crosses a stile on the right to keep alongside a wall finally reaching open moorland via a ladder stile at Eastby Gate.

  2. (2km, 1 miles) The path is sketchy across the moor but the direction is straight forward, being basically due north alongside a line of grouse butts. Beyond the grouse butts you encounter a track, which is followed down towards two shooting huts. Keep to the main track as it swings downhill with a view up Wharfedale opening out ahead. Where another track joins from the left, turn here to head west across Embsay Moor.

  3. (3km, 2 miles) This shooting track is followed for two miles across the moor. Down to the right sits Lower Barden Reservoir with Wharfedale beyond. Easy walking brings you to the summit of the walk (1413ft) and ignoring other tracks to right and left, continue in a westerly direction. On the skyline ahead sits the monument on Rylstone Fell. The path descends towards a pair of traditional stone built, thatched, shooting-huts. These can provided much needed shelter if weather is poor - but please ensure that you leave the gates closed across the entrances.

  4. (7km, 5 miles) It is now time to turn and head south back towards Embsay. A clear track descends to cross Waterfall Gill, before climbing steadily to cross East Harts Hill. As you begin the final long descent, the path becomes sketchy. It is easy to veer too far left, but if you aim for the right-hand corner of Embsay Reservoir you should be able to keep to a faint path that picks its way down the hillside through heather and bracken. Note the dramatic profile of Embsay Crag to your left. At the bottom, cross a small stream and turn right alongside the boundary wall to a gate/stile.

  5. (10km/ 7 miles) Turn left down the lane alongside the reservoir with the sailing club dinghies adding a splash of colour to the scene. Pause by the clubhouse to view the scene with the backdrop of Embsay Crag. Now continue down the road into Embsay, a distance of about 1 mile. The vicinity of the mill is quite attractive with the millstream alongside the road, overlooked by imposing house with a 1665 datestone. Continue through the village back to the car park. (8 miles)

    Along the Way

    Embsay is a large straggling village just a few miles north of Skipton. Industry in the past was centred on the mills and quarries, but today its main claim to fame is being the home of the Yorkshire Dales steam railway, which chuffs the few miles along the valley to Bolton Abbey.

    Arnold Underwood/LWC (Oct 2003)

This page was created by
Arnold Underwood

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