The countryside around the Yorkshire Dales village of Grassington is dotted with pools and falls, making it an idyllic location for a spot of wild swimming. In the meadows south of Grassington, families mess about in rubber dinghies, skip over stepping-stones and throw themselves down water chutes.
Nearby Ghaistrill’s Strid offers exhilarating rapids, while Loup Scar tempts the more intrepid with a high jump and plunge pool. Enjoy all of the above on this riverside ramble along the banks of the Wharfe.
This 8.5-mile route follows the meandering River Wharfe ©Getty
1. Stepping stones
From Burnsall, walk towards the Red Lion Inn, turn right alongside the bridge then left on to a riverside path. Go through three gates to Loup Scar. On the opposite bank a limestone cliff towers over a deep pool and shallows for paddling. Follow the path to a bridge and stepping-stones.
Cross the bridge and turn left on a path that veers away from the river and crosses a footbridge and track. Go though a gate by a Dalesway sign, and follow the track as it bends left. Climb over a Dalesway-signed stile and head back towards the river. After two miles you reach a lane and car park.
2. Take a dip
Cross the lane through a gate. Beyond the waterfall are two weirs – the best swimming is in the pool above the second weir. Follow a grassy path away from the river, through two wooden gates to the start of the road bridge.
The River Wharfe near Grassington, Yorkshire Dales ©Getty
Cross the road and take the track opposite to a gate, signed Wood Lane. Rejoin the riverbank. After a footbridge, go through two more gates and over three stiles to an open area. The river rushes through a winding narrow channel, Ghaistrill’s Strid, and downstream there are rocky pools where snorkelling is possible and longer stretches of deeper water for swimming. The most adventurous pastime is to shoot through the strid on a rubber ring, which requires skill and nerve!
Go back over the stiles and gates to a path beyond a heap of boulders, towards a stone barn. After a stile bear right to pass left of the barn and through a gate. Aim left of the white house to a track leading to a T-junction. Turn right, then first left. The lane bears left then right. Bear right by the 30mph sign, then go straight ahead at the crossroads. You’re now in the village of Grassington.
Stop for a coffee in the village of Grassington ©Getty
Where the road divides at the Low Lane sign, bear left then turn left along High Lane. Follow the walled track, signed Hebden 1½. After a stile, walk ahead across the field at a signpost, bearing left towards a wall gap. Keep on the path as it goes left, off the track, to a stile. Cross a track and follow the path through woodland. Cross a lane and follow Hebden signs through four stiles to the main road.
4. Beyond the weir
Turn left, cross the bridge. After 100m turn right, signed Mill Lane. By a house, cross a footbridge, go up steps and turn left to a stile. Follow the streamside path to a kissing gate and footbridge by a weir, then take the path to the left of buildings, signed Hebden Suspension Bridge.
Hebden Suspension Biridge, Yorkshire Dales ©Getty
Go through two gates and between houses to a lane. Turn right and after 200m yards, go left at a Dalesway sign to the bridge. Cross and turn left back to Burnsall.
Click on the map below for an interactive version of the route.
Riverside paths, tracks, farmland paths and woodland. There is an alternative start in Grassington for shorter walk, omitting Loup Scar, or walk from Burnsall to Loup Scar and return.
The section of the walk from Burnsall Bridge almost to Loup Scar is accessible to wheelchairs and pushchairs.
HOW TO GET THERE
BY CAR: Burnsall is on the B6160 between Grassington and Bolton Abbey, northeast of Skipton and north-west of Leeds.
BY PUBLIC TRANSPORT: Burnsall is accessible by train from Leeds or by bus on the First Leeds X84 to Ilkley, then the Pride of the Dales service 74 (not Sunday) towards Grassington. Sundays, May-Sept, use Dalesbus 874
Red Lion Inn
The Bridge at Burnsall, near Skipton BD23 6BU
Ordnance Survey Explorer Map OL2.
Grid ref: SE 005 645