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In this addition of Walk of the Month, we’re donning the waterproofs for a winter walk in the Yorkshire Dales, or more accurately, in and around the charming village of Aysgarth in the Wensleydale Valley. Made famous by its cheesy export, Wensleydale is an exemplary walking destination, offering undulating hills, postcard views and a sprinkling of slate-clad heritage villages. Aysgarth is just one of the settlements that offer excellent opportunities for walking in the valley, but its situation on the banks of the River Ure make it the ideal location for an invigorating country walk at any time of year.
Enjoy the rumble of the Aysgarth Falls as you take a contemplative stroll through the ever peaceful St Joseph Wood, keeping your eyes peeled for treecreepers, warblers and roe deer. Then, emerge from the canopy of trees and loiter awhile in the wild-grass meadow, enjoying fine views across Wensleydale toward the imposing keep of Castle Bolton- what could be a better place for a peaceful walk on a Saturday afternoon?
This 1.5 mile route may sound a breeze, but the rugged terrain and plethora of scenic distractions mean that it will take a minimum of 45 minutes to complete. Muddy sections of the route can be slippery, as can the man-made viewpoints overlooking the falls, so wear sturdy shoes or walking boots to ensure that you feel confident on the trail.
The walk starts on the banks of the River Ure in the car park to the north of the village. Follow the well-marked path until you reach the steps down to the Middle Falls, and spend a minute or two watching the surging rapids. Continue along the path, passing through a kissing gate until you reach the Lower Falls. You’ll want to snap a photo or two here; it really is a sight to behold.
Turn on to the grassy path signposted Castle Bolton and continue along the trail until you come to another gate. Take the footpath on the right and continue until you see a sign for Freeholder’s Wood. Here, lay down your picnic blanket for peaceful spot of lunch, or continue en-route to enjoy fine views of the majestic Castle Bolton.
Across the field, turn right and take the footpath signposted Aysgarth. Go straight ahead until you reach another path, where you’ll need to turn left and walk underneath the arch of an old railway bridge. From here, follow the path to your right as it meanders through the trees of St Joseph’s Wood, taking care not to disrupt the habitat of the wood’s inhabitants. Continue through the wood until you re-join the road, and rest your feet and recuperate at the National Park centre and café.
Download the comprehensive route and map for this walk here.
For the opportunity to enjoy this or any other walking route in the valley, why not rent a cottage in Wensleydale from Sykes Cottages? We’ve over 200 cottages dotted throughout the vale, providing you with the perfect base for a walking holiday in the Yorkshire Dales.