The farmland around these three villages in Lower Wharfedale is one of the best places in Yorkshire for seeing red kites.
In 1999 the species was reintroduced on the Harewood Estate, which spreads along the ridge on the other side of valley, and there are now over 100 nesting pairs in the region. The route begins at Huby on the main Bradford-Harrogate road, and follows gently rising field paths to the village of North Rigton. From here, the path turns south and crosses the flat floor of Wharfedale to visit the quiet lanes of Weeton. As well as the kites look out for barn owls, common buzzards and kestrels.
1. From the car park turn left and walk along the A658. (If arriving by train walk north from Weeton Station to reach the main road). Cross with care to Strait Lane and walk uphill past houses. Past derestriction signs turn right to take a public footpath running between houses. Follow a hedge round to the left and join a private access road leading up to a tarmac lane.
2. Cross with care and continue on the signposted footpath which soon bends right and runs along the bottom of a field. The path descends another field and crosses a beck. Bear right across a field into trees. Follow a fence round to the left and pass through a kissing gate onto a drive. Cross to a stile and turn left to follow the path round the edge of Holly Hill Farm.
3. Pass the farmyard. Don’t fork right on a tempting drive but continue with a hedge on your right to pick up a path which runs across several fields to emerge on Crag Lane. Turn right and walk with care into North Rigton. Follow the road right at a bend and at a junction turn right down Church Lane.
4. On a bend take a gate on the right to follow a field path down to the A658. Turn right for a short distance then cross with great care to go over the railway line and pick up a footpath leading south past a farm. Turn left before a building then right to follow a fairly straight course to the edge of Weeton village.
5. Go left just before Juniper Farm and follow the path along a field edge and past gardens to swing right on Brook Lane. On reaching the main street turn right and walk past the green and old chapel. Turn right onto Weeton Lane and follow it as it bends left then right. Continue ahead on Woodgate Lane and opposite Woodgate Farm take a field edge path back to Huby.
Difficulty rating: 2 stars.
Distance: 5 miles
Time: 2 1/2 hours.
Map: OS Explorer 297 (1:25000) Lower Wharfedale & Upper Washburn Valley
Parking: Almscliffe Village Hall, Harrogate Road (A658), Huby. Satnav LS17 0EG.
Public transport: Weeton station (actually at Huby) is on the Leeds-Harrogate railway line. Huby is also served by buses between Harrogate, Bradford, Otley, Ilkley & Keighley. For information visit www.wymetro.com or call 0113 245 7676.
Refreshments: North Rigton.
Toilets: For refreshments customers.