Countryside Walk - Barbon
- Credit: Archant
A decision to increase the size of the Yorkshire Dales National Park is expected soon. Terry Fletcher takes a walk through the proposed new area
Campaigners who want to extend the Yorkshire Dales National Park westwards to the Lune Valley have been waiting a year to hear the government’s decision, but then they are used to waiting. They have viewed the inclusion of these western hills and valleys and all of the Howgill Fells in the Yorkshire Dales National Park as unfinished business ever since the current boundaries were drawn up just after the Second World War. Anyone who wants to know what all the fuss is about could do a lot worse than spend a few hours on this delightful circuit which showcases everything this beautiful area has to offer the discerning walker.
It begins even before you pull on your boots. Turn off the A65 at Devil’s Bridge, near Kirkby Lonsdale, and enjoy the short drive to Barbon up the pastoral valley with the fells stretching out ahead and park by the village hall.
From here turn left into the village, go right at the war memorial and then left up a lane immediately after the church. Follow it uphill round a bend with black and white painted barriers. At the next bend 100 yards further on take a signed bridle path rightwards into the woods. Stay on the main path as it follows the line of the beck, ignoring all paths and bridges to left and right. Eventually it escapes the trees to come into a more open area of typical Dales countryside of rolling fells and cropped green turf before reaching a road at a ford popular with picnickers and occasional campers.
Cross the footbridge and turn right up the lane over the small Blindbeck Bridge. A hundred yards further on take a bridleway on the left signed to Bullpot. The stony track climbs up onto the open moor with the magnificent sweep of Barbondale and flank of Middleton Fell behind you. The track becomes enclosed as a green lane until it reaches a junction by Bullpot Farm. Turn right up the metalled road. After a little less than half a mile at a bend on the brow of a hill the buildings of Gale Garth Farm appear down to the left. Here take a sign-posted path through the left hand of a pair of gates and follow the track as it climbs the fellside and then turns left to cross the shoulder of the hill. Go through a gate and on the crest of the hill where the sweep of Morecambe Bay comes into view ahead. Carry on down the track and the lakeland fells appear away to the north west. The track drops steadily before taking a sharp left turn through a gate to arrow downhill to rejoin the road.
At the road carry on downhill for about half a mile until at the bottom, after passing through small woods, it meets a cross lane, the un-surfaced Fellfoot Road. Turn right along this signed to Bents Lane for a beautiful mile or so, hemmed in by drystone walls and trees with the green valley stretching away to one side and the fells climbing above. Over the wall to the left is a series of small drystone pens, each enclosing a boulder, the work of internationally-renowned sculptor Andy Goldsworthy who created them almost 20 years ago as part of his Sheepfolds project.
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The track ends at a lane. Rightwards leads to Barbon, however, to avoid walking all the way on tarmac, instead turn left away from the village and walk down the road for a quarter of a mile passing a couple of cottages almost to Fell Garth Farm. Just before the farm buildings take a gate on the right signed to Barbon and pass through a succession of fields before crossing an avenue of trees by the Victorian mansion of Whelprigg. Cross the drive and go over a stile and head away half right following a line of trees to leave the meadow by a gate in the far right hand corner. From here follow the track round to the right of Low Bank House to pass through a stile and across the field to a gate in the left corner and along a short enclosed path to a lane. Turn right up this and follow it past the house and immediately left on a public footpath along the drive of a cottage to a gate on the right. Cross the bottom of the field and when the path emerges on a narrow lane turn left to reach the car park or, if you prefer the pub first, after a few yards cross a stile on the right heading for the church.
Distance: 8 miles/13km
Height gain: 810ft/250m
Time: 3-4 hours
Terrain: Moorland paths, farm tracks and quiet lanes
Parking: Village hall
Refreshments: Café and pub in Barbon, others in Kirkby Lonsdale
Map: OS OL2 Yorkshire Dales Southern and Western