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Dent and the Dales Way

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Dent and the Dales Way
Author: clairesharpuk, Published: 11 Jul 2015 Walk rating : Rating:star1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar0 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK
Cumbria, Yorkshire Dales
Walk Type: Hills, valleys and dales
Dent and the Dales Way
Length: 7 miles,  Difficulty: boot iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK boot iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK boot iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK
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A 7 mile circular walk from the quaint Yorkshire Dales village of Dent in the south-east corner of Cumbria. The walk climbs high into the surrounding hills, following a beautiful old track across the top ridge with magnificent views across Dentdale and then descending through classic sheep pastures. The return leg follows a section of the River Dee, part of the Dales Way, taking in riverside pastures and hay meadows with plenty of wildlife to enjoy.

The walk includes one quite long and steep ascent to start, followed by a much more gradual descent and finishing with a relatively flat stretch. Some sections are very high and exposed so ensure you have appropriate clothing with you. The paths are a mixture of stone paths/tracks and unmade paths through fields, the latter of which can get very muddy. You will need to negotiate several gates, kissing gates, steps and footbridges plus two tight stone squeeze gaps (humans and dogs may need to breathe in!) and two stiles (one of which is enclosed with wire fencing so dogs may need a lift over). You will be sharing many of the fields with sheep and cattle so take particular care with dogs. There are public toilets available in the car park at the beginning of the walk. Approximate time 3.5 hours.

The small village of Dent is located in the county of Cumbria, but on the western slopes of the Pennines within the Yorkshire Dales National Park. It is about 5 miles south-east of Sedbergh. The access roads to the village are very narrow, so do take care as you are driving. The village becomes very busy in the height of the tourist holiday seasons, so if you are planning to walk during the holidays, arrive early to make sure you are able to park. The walk starts and finishes at the Dent village pay and display car park, opposite the Memorial Hall. The fee is £4.50 for the whole day (correct June 2015). Approximate post code LA10 5QJ.

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Walk Sections

Start to Fell Top Track
Start to Fell Top Track

Start point: 54.2787 lat, -2.4559 long
End point: 54.2677 lat, -2.465 long

Before you set off on the walk itself, you may wish to explore the tiny village of Dent, with its picturesque narrow cobbled streets and tiny stone cottages. The village has a heritage centre for visitors, which tells the varied and quirky tales of the history of Dent and its surroundings.

The village is most famous for being the former home of Adam Sedgwick, considered to be the father of British geology, but Dent is also known for its knitting. Two centuries ago, Dent was a place where men, women and children were all knitting at a furious pace, even when walking or doing other daily tasks. The villagers were the most famous hand knitters of the Dales, able to knit with one hand (the other needle being fixed to a belt) whilst carrying out farming or household chores with the other hand and so generating a second income. The knitting boom was at its peak during the Napoleonic Wars and Dent's woollen socks kept the feet of the British army warm while they fought Napoleon.

Leave the car park via the vehicle entrance, cross over the road and take the lane directly ahead (passing to the left of the 1845 Memorial Hall). The lane leads you past a number of properties and the village green (on your left). At the end of the green, keep straight ahead on the no-through road signed to Flinter Gill.

On the left you will see the 1835 Zion Chapel. The lane dog-legs right then left and becomes a stone path leading you up into trees (still signed to Flinter Gill). Take care on this path as the stones can become slippery when wet. Through the trees down to the left you may be able to make out the stream of Flinter Gill.

Pass through the gate ahead (NOTE: you may come across sheep grazing from this point) and continue on the stone track which now winds steeply uphill. Half-way up you will pass an old stone barn on the right (this may be open for you to view its collection). Pass through the gate ahead and you will see an old lime kiln on the left. Dating from around 1750, constructed from limestone walls with a bowl of sandstone, the kiln was used to produce quicklime (a substance valuable as both a fertiliser and building material).

Towards the top you will emerge from the trees and will be rewarded with your first glimpse of the views you will be enjoying for much of this walking route. The path’s gradient becomes more shallow and it swings right to lead you through the next gate. Continue on the path, with a stone wall running on the left. Eventually, at the top of the slope, you will come to another gate ahead (with a handy bench should you want to pause and catch your breath). Go through the gate to reach a signed junction with another track running along the top of the fell.

Fell Top Track to Underwood Footpath
Fell Top Track to Underwood Footpath

Start point: 54.2677 lat, -2.465 long
End point: 54.2726 lat, -2.4881 long

Turn right to join the fell top track, signed to Keldishaw, running between stone walls. You will be following this track for 1.5 miles, so take your time to appreciate the views during this easier stretch of the route.

From this vantage point, you can appreciate the exposed and rugged landscape. Making a living in Dentdale has never been easy. Situated in one of the most remote and beautiful areas of Yorkshire where the rolling limestone Dales meet the more rugged grit stone fells of eastern Cumbria, life on the little farmsteads followed a relentless seasonal pattern.

Eventually the track leads you out to a T-junction with a quiet tarmac lane. Turn right along this, taking care of any traffic, and follow it just as far as the crest of the slope. Here you will find a fingerpost on the left, marking a path to Underwood.

Underwood Footpath to Combe House
Underwood Footpath to Combe House

Start point: 54.2726 lat, -2.4881 long
End point: 54.2826 lat, -2.4906 long

Turn left through the gate (NOTE: this field is likely to be holding both sheep and a few cattle) and follow the grass track across the field at about 1 o’clock (bearing slightly away from the wall on the left). The track swings steadily right, passing a collection of rocky outcrops on the right.

The track leads you to the furthest left-hand corner of the field where you will find a kissing gate. Pass through this and bear left, following the line of a crumbling stone wall on the left. After about 150m (and just before the field ahead begins to rise more steeply) the path swings right to become a stone track running along the contour of the hill.

Follow this track which leads you steadily left along the hillside ridge, scattered with windswept hawthorn trees. Across to the right there are magnificent views across the valley and back to the village of Dent.

At the far side of the hill, pass through the gate ahead and follow the grass track with a stone wall running on the right. Follow the grass track all the way to its end, where a wide gate leads you into a complex of stone farm buildings. Pass to the left of the first barn and then fork right, passing to the right of the farmhouse (Combe House) to reach the next gate.

Combe House to Dales Way
Combe House to Dales Way

Start point: 54.2826 lat, -2.4906 long
End point: 54.2916 lat, -2.4908 long

Go through the gate and follow the stone track which leads you down the hillside. Take time to enjoy the views ahead to the north, which on a clear day will include several peaks within the Lake District National Park. Just before you reach the tree line at the bottom of the valley, look out for a waymarker post on the left. Fork left here to join the small path which swings left alongside the stream.

Cross the stream via the small sleeper bridge and head up the steps which lead you through a gate into the grounds of Tofts Farmhouse. Keep straight ahead through the stone courtyard, go through the gateway and continue on the concrete access track, leading you down the hillside. As soon as the path levels out (nearing a fence on the left) turn sharp left down a stone slope to reach a gate with a yellow waymarker arrow alongside.

Go through the gate and head diagonally left through the field, passing just to the right of a ruined stone building in the field’s centre. Further along, the path becomes a surfaced vehicle track and then swings left to reach a T-junction with an access drive. Turn right along this for just a few paces to reach a T-junction with a quiet lane.

Turn left along the lane, taking care of any occasional traffic. At the fork, bear right and follow the lane winding downhill. The lane levels off and, later, leads you through a pair of old stone gate posts. Continue for a further 100m, then turn right across the grass verge to reach a fingerpost alongside a footbridge, marking the point at which you join the Dales Way.

Dales Way to Stone Bridge
Dales Way to Stone Bridge

Start point: 54.2916 lat, -2.4908 long
End point: 54.2858 lat, -2.4704 long

NOTE: Some of the riverside pastures from this point are likely to be holding dairy cattle. Being the Dales Way this is a busy footpath and, perhaps unsurprisingly, the cattle seemed pretty relaxed when we walked through with our dog. All the same, do take the usual care if you are walking with a dog.

Cross the footbridge and stile and cross the field at about 1 o’clock to reach the tree line at the far side. Turn right and follow the path along the left-hand edge of the grass pasture with the River Dee running parallel on the left. This River Dee (one of many with this name in the UK), rises at Dent Head Farm, passing through Dentdale and then on to meet the River Rawthey at Sedbergh.

Some way along, pass through the small wooden gate and continue along the riverside path. Follow the path through another couple of pastures, passing though another two gates to do so. Within the next field, look out for a Dales Way sign on the left which leads you down some wooden steps to join a stone path immediately alongside the river. Continue in the same direction through the next few pastures and hay meadows (passing through another five gates) then head up the steps and through a stone squeeze gap to reach a stone bridge which carries a quiet lane over the river.

Stone Bridge to End
Stone Bridge to End

Start point: 54.2858 lat, -2.4704 long
End point: 54.2789 lat, -2.4559 long

Cross the lane, go through the squeeze gap ahead and down the steps to reach the first hay meadow of this next stretch of the route. Stay on the obvious path, passing through gates to cross the second meadow and enter the third.

Within the third meadow, the path heads diagonally right and then continues following the line of the river on the left. Three more gates lead you through the fourth and fifth meadows and then out to the road. Turn left along the road edge (taking care of any traffic) and, after just a short distance, fork left again passing through a kissing gate to rejoin the riverside path.

Continue through the first and second fields and then a stile (with a dog gate alongside) leads you into the third field. Turn immediately right, following the stone path along the right-hand edge of this third field, with the stone wall running on the right.

At the top, pass through the kissing gate and continue along the right-hand edge of the next pasture. As you reach the fence ahead, turn right through the gate and almost immediately turn left through a kissing gate. Follow this stone path, with a stone wall running on the left (beyond which you will be able to see the car park). At the end of the path, a gate leads you out to a junction with the village road. Turn left for just a short distance and you will come to the car park on the left where the walk began.

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Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2015 by the author clairesharpuk and may not be reproduced without permission.


The information in this guide has been provided in good faith and is intended only as a guide, not a statement of fact. You are advised to check the accuracy of the information provided and should not use this guide for navigational directions nor should you rely on the accuracy of the weather forecast. You are advised to take appropriate clothing, footwear, equipment and navigational materials with you according to the current and possible weather and nature of the terrain. Always follow the country code and follow any additional warnings or instructions that may be available. Some walks may be very strenuous and you are advised to seek medical advice if you have any doubts as to your capability to complete the walk.

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3 images to "Dent and the Dales Way"

4718_0Richard1436611327 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK Image by: Richard
Uploaded: 01 Jan 1970
There are some very impressive straight and long stone walls. I wonder how long it took to make these?
4718_1Richard1436611327 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK Image by: Richard
Uploaded: 01 Jan 1970
A view of Dent, June 2015. It really is quite remote.
4718_2Richard1436611327 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK Image by: Richard
Uploaded: 01 Jan 1970
The squeeze gaps on the bridge toward the end of the walk are quite narrow!

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