Weekend walk: River Wharfe & Elbolton

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Elbolton is one of a chain of strange conical hills on the south side of the River Wharfe which stand out because of their green grass against the surrounding brown moor, the result of the underlying geology being limestone.

The view from the summit (1142ft/348m) is one of the best in Wharfedale and makes the strenuous climb well worthwhile. Elbolton Cave, just yards off-route, was found to have been occupied and used as a burial place in the late Neolithic and Bronze Age. Note that the ascent of Elbolton, though brief, should only be undertaken by experienced walkers with a head for heights. The approach to Elbolton is along the River Wharfe and through the peaceful hamlet of Thorpe. Birds encountered include rooks and jackdaws, wheatears in summer, kingfishers and dippers on the river.


Summit cairn, with Grassington in the background

Elbolton Summit cairn, with Grassington in the background

1. From the car park at Linton Falls turn left to walk to the west end of the village and turn right to cross the River Wharfe. (If beginning from Grassington walk down Sedber Lane from the car park). On the north side of the bridge walk eastwards along the riverbank, following the signposted Dales Way.

2. Cross the suspension bridge over the Wharfe and on the other side turn left then look for a footpath on the right. Follow it uphill, angling towards the left corner of a wall. Cross into the next field and walk with the wall on your left to emerge through a gate onto the B6160.

3. Cross the road with care and follow a narrow lane to the hamlet of Thorpe. At the small walled green go left and follow the village street almost to the top. In front of a garage look for a signposted footpath on the right and follow the walled path out through a gate.

4. When the path gradient becomes less steep look right for a fold in the side of Elbolton and walk up the steep slope, keeping some scree on the left and aiming between two small limestone outcrops. Near the top Elbolton Cave is just below the limestone on the left. On the ridge angle left, cross a wall and aim for the summit cairn. Leave Elbolton by going back to the wall, turning right and following it down to rejoin the path.

The entrance to Elbolton cave

The entrance to Elbolton cave

5. Turn right, and when the path starts to descend find a stile next to a sheep enclosure. Cross over and follow the fence on the left and continue on a clear path over several fields to arrive on Thorpe Lane. Turn right and follow the quiet road to take a walled bridleway on the left. When the walls ends angle left downhill to the bottom left corner of the large field. Cross the B6160 with care and take a footpath bearing left over fields back to Linton Falls.

Difficulty rating: 4 stars

Distance: 5 1/2 miles

Time: 2 1/2 hours

Looking down on Thorpe from Elbolton

Looking down on Thorpe from Elbolton

Maps: Ordnance Survey Explorer sheet(1:25,000) OL2 Yorkshire Dales Southern & Western areas

Parking: Pay and display Linton Falls, off B6160 near Threshfield.

Public Transport: Grassington (on other side of river from Linton Falls) is served by 72 bus from Skipton, 74 from Ilkley. Trains to Skipton & Ilkley from Leeds, Bradford. For all times check www.wymetro.com or call 0113 245 7676.

Refreshments: Linton, Grassington

Toilets: Linton Falls; Yorkshire Dales National Park car park, Grassington.