Yorkshire Dales Walk - Dentdale

Howgill Fells from the Ocky

Howgill Fells from the Ocky - Credit: Archant

Revel in the superb views of this lovely walk along field and riverside paths. Words and photographs by Terry Fletcher

Sedgewick Memorial stone, Dent

Sedgewick Memorial stone, Dent - Credit: Archant

If you want to know how beautiful Dentdale is there’s no need to ask a Yorkshireman; ask the Cumbrians instead. They already had almost the entire Lake District to themselves when England’s counties were carved up in 1974 but still could not resist pinching this delectable slice of Yorkshire’s north west frontier too. So today it is administered from Carlisle instead of Wakefield. But that does not mean it is not still part not just of the historic West Riding but also the Yorkshire Dales National Park and once you’ve done this walk you’ll understand why our light-fingered neighbours were so keen to have it.

The walk starts from Dent, or to give it its full name Dent Town, though it is really little more than a small village, albeit one of the Dales’ most charming communities with its still-cobbled streets and huddle of cottages. It was also the birthplace of Adam Sedgwick, one of the founders of modern geology. He was born in 1785, the son of the local vicar and went on to win a place at Cambridge where he eventually became Professor of Geology, doing much to further the understanding of Britain’s foundations. One of his more significant students was the young Charles Darwin, who himself went on to promulgate his now almost universally-accepted Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection, the so-called survival of the fittest. Sedgwick’s achievements are marked with a fountain set in a huge block of Shap granite that sits in the centre of the village.


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From the large car park in the centre of the village, cross the road and walk up the lane beside the memorial hall, passing the small village green, and continue uphill between cottages to where the road becomes a steep, stony track beside the wooded cascades of Flinter Gill. As it climbs, it passes the Wishing Tree whose roots form a tunnel through which you must pass for your wish to be granted.

Just before the top of the gill the views westward open up to reveal the vast green rock-studded flank of Middleton Fell, which it must be admitted does have more than a touch of Lakeland about it. To the north the cluster of the Howgill Fells above Sedbergh draw the eye.

A little further up the hill the gill reaches the broad green lane of The Occupation Road, known locally simply as The Ocky. Turn right along this and follow it easily with superb views to meet the Barbon to Dent road. Turn right down this for about 400 yards to where a signpost on the left signals the start of the footpath back into the valley.

Take the path diagonally across the field to go through a kissing gate in the opposite corner. Follow the left hand fence and remnants of a wall across the field to where it joins a wide track, which heads away rightwards across the slope. As it traverses it becomes a pleasant green shelf. Continue along it to the very attractive farm at Combe House. Pass to the right of the buildings and through a gate to drop down the access track to a second farm at Tofts. Just before reaching the entrance the path diverts to the left, signposted by yellow arrows to cross a stream by a footbridge and then climb between the buildings before re-joining the access track.

Wishing Tree, Flinter Gill

Wishing Tree, Flinter Gill - Credit: Archant

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Go down this and at the foot of a slope where the track ceases to be concreted and instead becomes stony take a gate down on the left marked by a yellow arrow. Drop down the field diagonally leftwards to pass below a ruin and carry on to join a track which is followed down to the road by Rawbank Farm. Turn left along the road for five minutes or so to where a finger post in a large mud lay-by points across a soggy field to the banks of the River Dee. The riverside track is part of the Dales Way long distance path and is followed all the way back to Dent.

Where the track is briefly forced back on to the road there is a choice of finishes, either following the tarmac into the village or, more pleasantly taking a longer diversion by the river to where a path leads up into the village.

Fact File

Start/finish: Village car park Dent

Distance: 6.5miles/10.5km

Time: 3 hours

Terrain: Steep climb out Dent then field and riverside paths

Parking: Pay and display

Refreshments: Pubs and cafés in Dent

Maps OS OL2 Yorkshire Dales Southern and Western