Grassington, North Yorkshire Sunday 26th April 2015

Today’s Walk

Strenuous Leader: Rowland Nock   Distance: approx. 11.0 miles

From the car park we head out northish through Grassington village along the Dales Way as far as the ‘Dib’, which we then descend to Conistone. Please note that the initial descent is fairly steep but short, and is on limestone, so take care especially if wet!

From Conistone we gradually ascend southish into Grass Wood Nature Reserve and then descend west through the reserve to the banks of the River Wharfe. We then follow the meandering river to Linton Bridge, which spans Linton Falls. Crossing over the bridge we will take the track to the iconically beautiful Linton Church. Hopefully we can then return to the coach via the stepping stones for our well-earned refreshment. If the river level is too high to safely cross the stepping stones we can always re trace our way back to the car park.

Moderate Leader: Hazel Anderton   Distance : 8 miles

We start our walk along the River Wharfe towards Burnsall, keeping eyes peeled for a kingfisher. Burnsall would be a nice place to stop for lunch as it has a tea shop, a refreshment cabin, loos and a pub. But beware the landlord! Do not use his picnic tables alongside the river unless you have purchased something. Next we make our way over pastureland to the picturesque hamlet of Thorpe. From Thorpe we cross some moorland, where it is likely to be a bit wet for a short stretch, then come down along fields, until we come to Linton. Finally we make our way back to Grassington taking in the Linton Falls.

Leisurely Leader: Philomena Walker   Distance: 7 miles

After leaving the top of the village we make our way to Grass Woods, go thru the woods and round Dewbottom Scar and come out onto the side of the River Wharfe. We follow the Dales Way, pass Linton Falls and continue along the river towards Burnsall. At the suspension footbridge and the stepping stones we cross the river and pick up the path to Thorpe, then another path to Linton and finally back to Grassington. There is some lane walking but mainly it is paths and woods.

Easy Leader: Jackie Gudgeon   Distance: 5 miles

We will leave the coach park to walk up through the village of Grassington, to pick up the Dales Way footpath. This is first a stony lane and then a lovely wide grassy path with good views all round. We then cross over into Bastow Wood, a delightful area of open woodland, before dropping down into Grass Wood – a much denser mixed woodland, through which we descend to eventually arrive at the River Wharfe. We follow the river bank back into Grassington.

Notes On The Area

Known as the “capital of Upper Wharfedale”, Grassington is a large village on the hill-side sloping down to the north-east bank of the River Wharfe. It had its most prosperous period in the lead mining era of the late 16th to the 18th centuries, and during this time many of the delightful stone properties were built. Its bridge dates from 1603. After 1850 the economy declined, but it received a lift from the construction of the Yorkshire Dales Railway between Skipton and Grassington, now closed. In medieval times the village was an important market town.

The path down to Linton Falls from the car park at Grassington is known as the Snake Walk and was used by millworkers walking to and from Linton Mill. Now replaced by cottages, this former textile mill was powered by a weir upstream. Linton Falls is a natural limestone feature where acrobatic swallows and low-flying dippers are frequent visitors. The Falls were used to provide hydro-electricity for the village from 1909 until the National Grid came.

About a mile north of Grassington lies one of the most outstanding Romano-British field systems in the Dales. The land is privately owned but a footpath skirts the site, where Celtic fields are clearly divided into squares and rectangles by stone banks. Among the fields are indications of a settlement, for circular outlines of hut foundations, perhaps prehistoric farmsteads, have been traced. On the hillside near Linton ‘bands’ can be seen on the side of the fields.

It was near here where the ladies known as Calender girls lived.

Today, Grassington is a popular choice with visitors who come to admire its traditional buildings and enjoy the lovely countryside round about. The village centre has been designated a Conservation Area because of its special architectural and historical interest and particular efforts are made to protect and enhance its appearance. The stone used is local, predominantly limestone and sandstone.

Features to look out for are heavy flagstone roofs, narrow 17th century mullioned windows and decorated door lintels often inscribed with a date. The Square, recobbled through the efforts of the Chamber of Trade and voluntary groups in 1973, is one of the village’s finest features. The old lamp post, locally known as Old Gormless, and the old pump (actually a syphon fountain that used to bring water from the underground stream into horse trough) survive as relics of former years.

The Upper Wharfedale Museum Society has opened a Folk Museum in the Square. An interesting survival from the past can be seen by walking up Garrs Lane from the Square. Near the top on the left are two cottages which once constituted a theatre at which Edmund Kean appeared. Almost opposite the Post Office in Main Street is Salt Pie Hill where the salters’ wagons used to deposit the village’s salt supply.

St Michael’s Church, Linton, is one of the finest churches in the Dales. It has a bell turret but no tower, and stands on what was almost certainly an Anglo-Saxon, possibly even a pagan site, which explains its distance from the four villages it originally served – Grassington, Linton, Threshfield and Hebden. The stepping stones over the River Wharfe formed part of the ancient Parishioners’ Way to Hebden Village until its own church was built in the last century.

There is also a lively social calendar to attract visitors. The Grassington Festival is a two week event in June with music, performances and visual arts with many well-known personalities taking part. In September there is a 1940’s themed weekend and in early December there is a two week Dickensian Festival.