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Sample route guide: Barden Bridge to Burnsall
Barden Bridge to Burnsall - Maps 5-7
The stretch from Barden Bridge to Burnsall and beyond can accurately be described as classic Dales Way terrain. This is walking at its most serene and care-free, the ground flat and easy, the scenery absorbing, and with little to disturb the tranquillity. Your soundtrack on this stretch will be that of birdsong, and of the river bubbling lazily on your left; while keeping you company are the riverbank wildflowers that nod gently on the breeze and the butterflies – the small tortoiseshell, large and small whites, and maybe even the odd peacock and red admiral – that flit between them. (I am assuming, of course, that the weather will be good when you take this path – otherwise, the reality that greets you may be less serene than the picture painted here.)
It’s all very straightforward and, in the right climate, idyllic. If you’re enjoying it as much as I did you may want to stop, and luckily there are two options about a mile from Barden Bridge on Stangs Lane. The first is a simple mobile home (Map 6; tel 01756-720294; sleeps 5) just before you hit the road, in which a handwritten sign is displayed in the window offering it for £120 for the weekend (£315 for a week) – though they may, if bookings allow, offer it for less time. As you reach the road you’ll also notice a footpath that takes you up to Howgill Lodge (see Map 6; tel 01756 720655, web www.howgill-lodge.co.uk; 3D/1Tr, all en suite; bath; wi-fi), which offers B&B in a 17th-century converted barn. Rates are from £41pp (single occ £82), two-night minimum booking at weekends. Note that they don’t do evening meals and it’s just over a mile to Appletreewick. They also offer camping (late Mar to late Oct) from £7 per night for hikers; dogs are allowed on the site for free if kept under close control.
Back on the path, and after passing some rapids that interject a brief note of sound and fury on an otherwise peaceful stretch, it’s not long before the trail delivers you to the tiny but lovely village of Appletreewick.
APPLETREEWICK [Map 6]
Little more than a one-street village, Appletreewick – often shortened to Ap’wick by the locals – boasts a fair history for a place of less than 250 souls. The most celebrated son is Sir William Craven, whose meteoric career saw him Sheriff and Lord Mayor of London at the beginning of the 17th century, and whose life is believed by some to have been the basis for the Dick Whittington legend. On his return from London, Sir William spent some of his fabulous wealth enriching the area (in 2000 The Sunday Times named him as one of the 100 richest people who have lived in England since 1066, with a personal fortune in today’s terms of around £6.3 billion). It was he who was responsible for building Burnsall Bridge and the nearby school too, and he also repaired St Wilfrid’s Church in Burnsall. More recently, in fact in 2009, Appletreewick was awarded the title of ‘Britain’s Friendliest Town to Drive Through’, a result based upon UK-wide data collected on road-rage incidents, driver communication, average speeds and so on.
Today, the village plays host to two pubs, a phone box (outside The New Inn), one very good campsite and …. not much else, though the 75 bus service calls here (see pp47-50).
The campsite is Mason’s (tel 01756 720275; web www.masonscampsite.co.uk; dogs £1), a very popular place, unsurprisingly so given its location (by the river, near a great pub and abutting the Dales Way) as well as the quality of the facilities on site (the showers are particularly lovely). They have also adopted the concept of glamping in a big way, with yurts (sleeping two people) and a safari tent (sleeping up to six people) available for rent (£75-169 depending on the time of year). For walkers arriving on foot, the price is a more digestible £8pp.
As for the pubs, at the eastern end of town is The New Inn (tel 01756 720252, web www.the-new-inn-appletreewick.com; 1T/5D or T, en suite; dogs; wi-fi), a friendly-enough place where rates are £42.50pp (sgl occ £55) including breakfast. The food (daily from noon to around 8pm) is fine, with some interesting platters for sharing (fish platter £12.95, Tex-Mex platter £13.95), but what really marks this place out is its fine collection of world beers, including some from the Goose Eye Brewery in nearby Keighley.
However, as good as the grub is here, it suffers by comparison to the 16th-century Craven Arms (tel 01756 720270, web www .craven-cruckbarn.co.uk; food daily noon-9pm, Sun to 8.30pm), back down the hill. Indeed, this is pretty much the most fascinating pub on the trail, built with stone-flagged floors and real oak beams and equipped with a large open fire and pleasant beer garden – and all of it still lit by gaslight. Always the centre of the village, until 1926 the Court Leet was still held here to deal with local minor crimes, the wrongdoers being punished in the stocks that still stand to the left of the building. There is no accommodation at the pub but what they do offer – fine food and good beer – are areas in which they truly excel. The menu alone is enough to get the tastebuds tingling; try the whole roast grouse with onion purée, roast artichokes, fondant potato, wild mushroom and whisky cream (£19.95), for example. Suffice to say it’s the first time in adulthood that I’ve literally licked a plate clean. If I have a criticism, it’s that it gets so busy you need to get here early to secure a table. That, and the fact that the dishes tend to be tasty rather than hearty; though, to be fair, the puddings are of the same quality as the mains that preceded them and can top up any holes left unfilled by the main course.
The river meanders a lot in this section, drifting here and there as if reluctant to head downstream, like a schoolchild on his way to an exam for which he hasn’t revised. Soon, however, you leave the river for a brief stroll through farm and fields on the way to lovely Burnsall.
BURNSALL [Map 7]
Though bisected by the B6160, the main road that runs along the length of the Wharfe from Addingham to Buckden and beyond, Burnsall is one of the most exquisite villages on the Dales Way. It can be quite beautiful at times, particularly in the late evening when the bridge glows a pale honey hue in the evening light, or during the day when kids splash about in the water while on the nearby green the parents gently sizzle and get sozzled under the scorching sun.
Surprisingly for such a small place, Burnsall has most things a trekker could want, including a decent pub, a tearoom, a fast-food kiosk, a couple of friendly B&Bs, a smart hotel, a pizzeria and a small shop (Mon, Tue, Thur-Sat 8am-4pm, Sun 10am-2pm), of limited stock but with a good range of pork pies for around £1.30 each. The 74/74S and 874 bus servicescall here en route between Ilkley and Grassington; the Sunday 874 service continues to Buckden via Kettlewell. For details pp47-50.
For accommodation, there are four options. The Green (tel 01756 720163; www.burnsallaccommodation.co.uk; 2D en suite; bath; wi-fi; Ⓛ) is right in the heart of the action, just down from the tearoom and next door to the village shop; they charge £37.50pp (sgl occ £40). About 100m past the primary school, Wharfe View Farm House (tel 01756 720643, web www.burnsall .net; 1T en suite, 1T/1Tr share facilities; dogs prebook £5; wi-fi; Ⓛ; from £35pp, from £40 sgl occ, more at weekends) has amiable hosts and large rooms. They also have a holiday cottage (1T/1D; bath; no dogs) that they offer as B&B when free.
Dominating the centre of the village, The Red Lion (tel 01756 720204, web www .redlion.co.uk; 1S/13D or T, en suite; bath; dogs £20; wi-fi in the public areas; Ⓛ) was originally a ferryman’s inn built in the 16th century (ie before the bridge was built) and remains the focus of village life today. Some of the rooms are a little small but the rates are fair (with B&B at £76-81pp, single £70, sgl occ is £10 less).
The owners also run the Victorian Manor House (8D/3D or T, all en suite; bath; wi-fi in public area; B&B £37.50-51pp, sgl occ rates on request), just over 100m away, with most of the rooms boasting river and village views. In addition they also have four cottages (2D or T) in the village and the three-bedroomed Old Police House (1S/1D/1T), both of which they are willing to let for one night’s B&B (£60-85pp) if vacant.
Finally, on the outskirts of town is the Edwardian Devonshire Fell Hotel (tel 01756 718111, web www.devonshirefell.co .uk; 14D/2T/1Tr, all en suite; bath; wi-fi; dogs) Another place named in honour of the local aristocrats, the hotel’s bold décor is said to have been chosen by the Duchess of Devonshire herself. Rates vary greatly according to demand and season but start at around £44.50pp (from £76 for sgl occ) for B&B, check online for special offers.
For food, Katie’s Kiosk (tel 07793 408910; Mon-Fri 9am-5 or 6pm, Sat 10am-4 or 6pm, Sun 9am-5 or 6pm) is a simple snack shack in a car park selling mugs of tea for 50p and Yorkshire Dales ice-cream for a pound. The sarnis are only £2.20-3.90, with a bacon, sausage and egg butty only £3.60. For something slightly more formal, Wharfe View Tearooms (tel 01756 720237; Sat-Wed 9.30am-5.30pm) does a good Yorkshire cheese on toast for £5.50 and a homemade steak and potato pie for £6.50. Note that they accept only cash here.
The Red Lion has two menus, one for the bar (Mon-Fri noon-2.30pm & 6-9.30pm, Sat noon-9.30pm, Sun noon-9pm), where their beef & venison casserole with port, apricots and mashed potatoes is delicious (£15.50); and one for their restaurant (noon-2pm & 7-9.30pm, Sun to 9pm), with all the bar menu dishes plus more imaginative options including pan-fried pigeon breast with black pudding, broad beans, watercress, hazelnuts and cauliflower puree (£16.50) and corn-fed guinea fowl supreme, artichoke & truffle ravioli, serrano ham and wild garlic hollandaise (£16.10). The riverside seating out back by the path is lovely on a warm summer’s evening. They also offer pizzas at their River Café (see Where to stay; Fri, Sat & Sun 5-9pm), to eat in at the Manor House or take away.
- Practical information for the walker
- Sample route guide: Barden Bridge to Burnsall
- Sample Trail Profile & Overview Map
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