An elegant and distinctive house overlooking the large village green in West Burton that sleeps…
Many people regard West Burton as the prettiest village in the Dales. Its wide, irregular green, with a fat obelisk of 1820, is surrounded by small stone cottages, formerly homes to the quarrymen and miners of the district – but no church. Villagers had to make the trek to Aysgarth for services. West Burton has always been an important centre. It is at the entrance to Bishopdale, with its road link to Wharfedale. South is the road to Walden Head, now a dead end for motorists, but for walkers an alternative route to Starbotton and Kettlewell. At the end of the walk you'll travel for a short time, near Flanders Hall, along Morpeth Gate, the old packhorse route to Middleham.
Two Halves of Aysgarth
After crossing the wide flood plain of Bishopdale Beck, and crossing Eshington Bridge, you climb across the hill to descend into Aysgarth. A village of two halves, the larger part, which you come to first, is set along the main A684 road. The walk takes you along the traditional field path from this part of the village to its other half, set around St Andrew's Church. It's worth looking inside; it contains the spectacular choir screen brought here from Jervaulx Abbey, down the dale, when it was closed by Henry VIII. Like the elaborate stall beside it, it was carved by the renowned Ripon workshops.
The falls and The Wood
Beyond the church, the path follows the river beside Aysgarth's Middle and Lower Falls. The falls were formed by the Ure eating away at the underlying limestone as it descends from Upper Wensleydale to join the deeper Bishopdale. They are now one of the most popular tourist sights in the Yorkshire Dales National Park and the Upper Falls, by the bridge, featured in the film Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves (1991). Robin (Kevin Costner) and Little John fought here with long staves.
Mrs Sykes' Follies
On the return leg of the walk you pass below two follies in the parkland behind the house at Sorrelsykes Park. They were built in the 18th century by a Mrs Sykes. One is a round tower, with a narrowing waist like a diabolo. The other, sitting like Thunderbird 3 ready for lift-off, is known locally as the ‘Rocket Ship’. It is of no practical use, except for minimal shelter in the square room in its base, but it is just one of many folly cones throughout Britain. None of the others, however, have this elaborate arrangement of fins – presumably the builder had doubts about its stability
Leave the Green near the village shop. Opposite 'Meadow Croft' go left, signed 'Eshington Bridge'. Cross the road (B6160), turn right then left, to go through a gate and down steps. Go through a gate beside a barn, and continue to a stile at the bottom right of the field. Cross another stile, then bear right to meet a stone wall. Follow this then continue over a stile in the same direction to reach a road.
Turn left, cross the bridge and go up a narrow lane to a bend. Go ahead through a stile, signed 'Aysgarth'. Climb through another stile and left of a barn. Continue through a gate up the field and bear left to a gate near the corner, then diagonally across the next field. Keep left of an obvious wall gap to go through another gap by a small wood. Descend to a stile and footpath sign.
Continue in the same direction and up to a signpost. Follow the Aysgarth direction to a gateway and stile. Cross the field half left to a stile onto a lane. Turn left, then right, signed 'Aysgarth'. Go ahead through three stiles to a road.
Turn right into Aysgarth. Go past the George and Dragon then straight ahead to the Methodist church and bear right along the lane. Cross a stile by Field House. Follow the wall to another stile and continue along a short track, then follow a path through eight stiles to a road.
Enter the churchyard, pass right of the church and leave by a stile. Cross a field and go through a wood over two stiles. Follow the path downhill, walking parallel with the river. Take a signed stile right.
Follow the path by the river over several stiles to a signpost. Bend right across a field to the main road (A684). Turn left, cross a bridge, then turn right into woodland, signed 'Edgley', soon bearing left uphill to a stile. Bear right across a field to a gate in the far corner and join a road (B6160).
Turn right. About 150yds (137m) along, go left over a stile, signed 'Flanders Hall'. Walk towards the follies, then bear right just below the ridge, passing Sorrelsykes Park to your right. Cross a track to a signpost, bear left up the bank, then follow the fence. Bear right to a stepped stone stile, then follow the bottom edge of the field to a gate opposite a stone barn.
Descend through this and two more gates, then bear left along the field-edge to go over three stiles. Continue ahead to a lane. Turn right, cross a bridge and join the village road. Turn left, back to the Green.
Field and riverside paths and tracks, 40 (mostly squeeze) stiles
Two typical Dales villages, fields and falls on the River Ure
Dogs should be on leads
OS Explorer OL30 Yorkshire Dales - Northern & Central Areas
Centre of West Burton, by (but not on) the Green
None on route; Aysgarth National Park visitor centre is close
WALKING IN SAFETY
Read our tips to look after yourself and the environment when following this walk.
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About the area
Discover North Yorkshire
North Yorkshire, with its two National Parks and two designated Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, is England’s largest county and one of the most rural. This is prime walking country, from the heather-clad heights of the North York Moors to the limestone country that is so typical of the Yorkshire Dales – a place of contrasts and discoveries, of history and legend.
The coastline offers its own treasures, from the fishing villages of Staithes and Robin Hood Bay to Scarborough, one time Regency spa and Victorian bathing resort. In the 1890s, the quaint but bustling town of Whitby provided inspiration for Bram Stoker, who set much of his novel, Dracula, in the town. Wizarding enthusiasts head to the village of Goathland, which is the setting for the Hogwarts Express stop at Hogsmeade station in the Harry Potter films.
York is a city of immense historical significance. It was capital of the British province under the Romans in AD 71, a Viking settlement in the 10th century, and in the Middle Ages its prosperity depended on the wool trade. Its city walls date from the 14th century and are among the finest in Europe. However, the gothic Minster, built between 1220 and 1470, is York’s crowning glory.
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