Starting from the quintessential Dales town of Grassington the route quickly strikes up the hillside to the remote and well-named farmstead of Bare House, which conjures up the atmosphere of Wuthering Heights. From here an easy track is followed to Yarnbury, a grander house built in the late 18th century for the Duke of Devonshire’s mineral agent, who was responsible for overseeing the extensive lead mines on Grassington Moor. Beyond here the route passes through an area of old mines with helpful interpretation boards to explain things. More lead mining ruins dominate Hebden Gill, which is followed to the village of Hebden. The return to Grassington is along easy field paths and a green lane. In winter the only birdlife encountered on the moors is likely to be carrion crows and the occasional kestrel. In spring and summer curlews, lapwings, meadow pipits and wheatears dominate.
1. Turn left out of the car park then right to walk up Main Street. At the top go left at the Devonshire Institute to walk along Chapel Street. Near the end turn right uphill. The lane bends right past houses and becomes a walled track.
2. In front of a metal gate turn right. Town End Beck flows down here, so it is necessary to find a route close to either wall when in spate. Pass one gate on the left and proceed to the next one. On the other side the path bends left and slants uphill through an ancient field system where medieval field walls overlay prehistoric field boundaries. Ignore a path forking right and keep on this course to Bare House.
3. Pass Bare House and take a track on the right leading past High Barn and swinging right. Through a gate this becomes a walled track leading down to another track known as Old Moor Lane. Turn right to Yarnbury.
4. Opposite Yarnbury House go left over a cattle grid and follow the track past old lead mine workings. At a fork go right and another fork go left. At a gate turn left to follow the path downhill past spoil heaps and swing right to walk beside Hebden Beck. Cross the beck at the ford and follow the track then metalled road through Hebden Gill to arrive at the village of Hebden.
5. Turn right on the B6265. Walk past the Clarendon Hotel to find a walled path forking right on the edge of the village. Continue on this path across fields, cutting through Grassington Park Estate meadows, grounds of the former Grassington Sanatorium. A stile leads out to a field and a path leading to a track which becomes High Lane. At Grassington continue downhill via Garrs Lane and Main Street and turn left to return to the car park.
Difficulty rating: 3 stars.
Distance: 7.5 miles
Time: 3 hours
Maps: OS Explorer sheet OL2 (1:25000) Yorkshire Dales Southern & Western areas or OS Landranger (1:50000) Sheet 98 Wensleydale and Upper Wharfedale Sheet.
Parking: Grassington National Park Centre (pay-and-display).
Public Transport: 72 service to Grassington from Skipton or 74 from Ilkley. Behind the National Park Centre. By rail from Leeds & Bradford, Skipton is on the Airedale Line; Ilkley is on the Wharfedale Line. For all times check www.wymetro.com or 0113 245 7676.
Toilets and Refreshments: Grassington.