Yorkshire Dales walk - Rylstone and Cracoe circular

A view from the top at Rylstone Edge (c) Matt O’Brien myyorkshiredales.co.uk

A view from the top at Rylstone Edge (c) Matt O’Brien myyorkshiredales.co.uk - Credit: Matt O’Brien myyorkshiredales.co.uk

Alan Friswell heads to the Yorkshire landscape made famous by the Calendar Girls in the heart of the Dales

The rugged terrain at Cracoe Fell (c) Matt O’Brien myyorkshiredales.co.uk

The rugged terrain at Cracoe Fell (c) Matt O’Brien myyorkshiredales.co.uk - Credit: Matt O’Brien myyorkshiredales.co.uk

Many will know Rylstone thorough its connection with its famous Women's Institute, the group whose nude charity calendar sparked a phenomenon and became the basis for the film starring Julie Walters and Helen Mirren. But for others, it holds more connection with William Wordsworth and his poem set during Elizabeth I's reign. If you're thinking of venturing on to the moors at this time of year, be prepared and take layers. But the bracing winds are well worth bracing as you'll see when you are rewarded with spectacular panoramas and the multitude of views.

Sunset at Rylstone Cross (c) Matt O’Brien myyorkshiredales.co.uk

Sunset at Rylstone Cross (c) Matt O’Brien myyorkshiredales.co.uk - Credit: Matt O’Brien myyorkshiredales.co.uk


1. You start this Yorkshire Dales walk in Rylstone, home of the original WI Calendar Girls, your car probably parked close by their 1994 tree by the pond (grid ref. SD969586). From here cross the main road and head up the lane opposite, passing the manor house on the right (whose springtime gardens are full to bursting with snowdrops),and make for Rylstone Church. Just beyond this turn right along a rough track, which you follow across a couple of fields to a second clear track. Turn left and follow this track to a gate on the left - the access area entry point. Follow the track through the reedy pasture, climbing steeply past a small plantation to a gate. From here the access area proper is entered. Continue up the track and when you arrive at a gate turn sharp left and walk up to the summit, keeping the wall on your left. From here make your way to Rylstone Cross.

2. Walk along the moor-side (east) of the wall following a well-worn path which undulates but gradually climbs the extra 350 feet to reach another stile giving access to the obelisk after about 20 minutes. This is Cracoe's memorial to the men who died in the First and Second World War. Their names are carved into the Yorkshire gritstone. You'll want to spend a few moments here, the views are magnificent.

3. The next bit is trickier as it is not marked on the OS map. Head along the slope from the obelisk parallel with the wall over to the right, along a faint trod. This, after a couple of hundred yards, turns sharply left, and becomes much more defined, a huge sled groove down which stone was once transported. The descent becomes very steep indeed before approaching a marshy area of taller grasses.

You can try following the apparently obvious path ahead, but my advice is, before you reach this Slough of Despond, you should leave the path and skirt left around the top of this marshy area. You will come to a small stream after about 100 yards - cross it and turn right. You should be opposite a distant walled green lane. At this point you should be able to walk relatively unscathed by deep water to the sheep pens and gates to the lane.

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4. The green lane shortly becomes a farm track. At a cottage it becomes surfaced and just before reaching the main road, at the access point notice, you turn left along a narrow lane. Go right at its end, then sharp left again as it runs behind the Devonshire Arms. At a junction at the end keep straight on alongside a stream.

5. At the main road, turn left and follow the walled lane of Chapel Lane. This quickly levels out and makes towards Rylstone. By the trees at the end take the gate ahead. Proceed along the wall side to Manor House Farm on the right and ponds on the left. From a gate at the end the lane-head at the start of the walk is rejoined. Follow it back past the church to the pond.



Start/finish: OS grid reference SD969586; BD23 6LH

Distance: 6 miles/9.8 km

Ascent: 1100 feet/333 metres

Terrain: easy/moderate

Parking: Grid ref SD969586

Refreshment: Devonshire Arms Country Inn, Grassington Road, Cracoe, BD23 6LA. There are also other cafes in the village.

Map: Map Ordnance Survey Explorer OL2