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Leyburn and Wensley
At 7½ miles this may seem a long walk, but its climbs are gentle and the stunning views around Wensleydale are well worth making the effort for. The paths meander through a blend of cattle and arable fields offering you and your pooch some healthy exercise amidst the beauty and freedom of the Dales. The views from The Shawl, overlooking Wensleydale, are stunning. The traditional Dales market town of Leyburn has many visitor attractions, and the village of Wensley makes for a pleasant stop off if desired.
What else you need to know
How to get there – from Richmond, take the A6108 to Leyburn. Alternatively from the A1, take the A684 Northallerton to Kendal road through Wensleydale to Leyburn. The No.159 bus from Richmond to Ripon operated by Procter’s Coaches passes through Leyburn. In the summer, a daily Dales Bus service (820) operates from West Yorkshire. Alternatively, why not combine your walk with a trip on the Wensleydale Railway?
Suggested map – OS Explorer Map Yorkshire Dales Northern & Central areas OL 30
Car park – Market Square in Leyburn town centre near the Golden Lion and Black Swan hotels – no fixed charges but there is a donation box (suggested contribution £1). If busy, there is a pay-and-display car park nearby, signposted from Market Square.
Start – Market Square car park
Length/time – 7½ miles, takes between 2½-3 hours depending on stops
Terrain /difficulty – MEDIUM, a varied walk mostly along clear paths and tracks, through fields. There is a short section next to the road in Wensley.
Dog friendliness – there is a dog bin near the gate house to Boulton Hall, in Wensley. Several stiles will be encountered but many have dog-gates or something similar. Being the Dales there will be sheep (!) so be prepared to put your dog on the lead.
Food and drink – Three Horseshoes at Wensley, Golden Lion, Black Swan and Sandpiper Inn in Leyburn are all dog-friendly, please see Directories for details.
Public toilets – in Market Square, Leyburn.
Other interesting info:
Leyburn Shawl is a bold limestone terrace extending almost unbroken for nearly two miles, gradually rising to a height of 870 feet above sea level. The limestone at this point is around 60 feet thick, forming a very bold escarpment overlooking the valley.
The Wensleydale Railway – discover the gateway to the Yorkshire Dales on this scenic heritage railway line from Leeming Bar through Bedale and Leyburn to Redmire.
- From the car park head across High Street and along Commercial Square towards the Dalesman’s club straight ahead. Keeping the club to the left, head along Shawl Terrace following a sign on the side of a house pointing the way to the Shawl. After passing a line of stone cottages, follow another sign for the Shawl and Playing Fields to the left then right through a metal kissing gate. Keep ahead on the stone path through a wooden gate on to the Shawl, and immediately take in the view of Wensleydale to the left.
- After passing the Leyburn Shawl information board, continue ahead along a wide green path passing a children’s play area to the right. Once beyond the play area, well behaved dogs should be able to be let off the lead. Pass through a way-marked metal gate and keep ahead along the edge of the ridge with a wire and post fence to the left and a dry-stone wall to the right. Continue ahead through obvious gaps in the wall towards the Leyburn Shawl Plantation.
- Keep a watchful eye out for sheep – especially in the springtime lambing season. The path keeps basically ahead along the edge of fields, which narrow to a gap in the wall next to a wooden gate. Taking the gap or gate, continue ahead along the wide path aiming for another gate by a pretty stone house to the right.
- Continue ahead, along the elevated path, which heads slightly uphill. There are several benches in this area on which to sit and enjoy the views. At a fork in the path next to a substantial dry-stone wall, head left downhill alongside another wall towards a way-marked metal gate with a makeshift stile – which some dogs will need a hand getting over. Enter the field and follow the path continuing downhill, diagonally across it towards the wall and tree-line to the left. Look for a way-marked metal gate in the corner of field, leading to a wide farm track.
- With a dry-stone wall to the left and arable fields to the right, continue along the farm track towards some farm buildings. After passing a cattle shed to the left, and with an unfinished stone barn with a corrugated roof ahead, turn left following a way-marker. As the track bears left, continue straight ahead keeping a dry-stone wall to the right. Head downhill, passing a gap in the wall on to an enclosed path near waterfalls. Continue past a ruined mill as the path loops round to a quiet road. Cross the road and follow a green and white public footpath sign through a gate and across a short field towards a wooden gate and stile ahead. Cross the stile then continue over the Wensleydale Railway and another stile on the other side of the track.
- Continue ahead along a clear grassy path crossing a field towards a way-marked metal gate leading to a road. Cross the road and turn left along it, looking for a public footpath sign. Turn right at the wooden sign, and head through a gap in the dry-stone wall along a clear path through the trees. Very soon head left along a wide clear track following a green and white public footpath sign towards a cattle grid – which has a convenient diversion around it through the field. Keep following the track round the edge of the tree line but at the next cattle grid take an immediate left following the faded direction indicator arrow. Do not cross the cattle grid at this point! Head around the dry-stone wall looking for a yellow way-marker and little wooden gate at the edge of a field.
- Pass through the gate and head downhill alongside a wire and post fence towards another gate by a green and white public footpath sign, pointing diagonally across the next field. Enter this field and aim for the big oak tree, passing it to the right before the path eventually crosses a gallop before passing through a wide metal gate on to a tarmacked track. Turn left along the track and keep going until it reaches a cattle grid, where there is a gate on the left near a dog waste bin. After passing through the gate, the track, which is actually the access road to the nearby Bolton Hall enters the village of Wensley.
- Immediately bear left with the village green and church to the right, and head uphill along a pavement next to the road. This is the busy A684 so make sure your dog is on the lead. After passing the Three Horse Shoes Inn on the other side of the road, continue to head out of the village. Just where the road starts to bear left, cross it and head for the grass verge on the other side which drops down to a minor road where there is a public footpath sign by a metal gate. Pass through the gate into the field and follow the line of telegraph poles – some of which carry yellow way-markers.
- Pass through a way-marked metal gate at the far end of the field, to a smaller wooden gate – with a big gap for dogs (!) beyond. Enter the next field and keep to the wire and post fence near the hedge to its right hand side. After passing to the right of a large tree, bear diagonally left across the field, and head uphill towards a waymarked kissing gate. After passing through, keep ahead on the obvious path and pass through a way-marked gap in the dry-stone wall heading for the Old Glebe Nature Reserve. Follow the still obvious path, across a wooden footbridge over a beck into a field and turn left – keeping the dry-stone wall to the left heading towards a yellow way-marker ahead.
- By the way-marker, pass through a narrow gap between two stones and carry on across the field towards a stile ahead. People will have to climb over the way-marked stile but Pooch will probably dive straight under it. Head left across this narrow field heading towards a tree ahead. After passing an old stile by a tumble-down dry-stone wall, head through a gap in the hedge and make for a new stile next to a metal gate ahead – while keeping the dry-stone wall to the left.
- Head across the next field to another way-marked stile and cross it – again, many dogs will be able to go straight under the fence. Continue ahead on a green path past a cattle farm – all livestock is fenced in, towards a gap in the dry-stone wall next to a hedge. Keep walking along the left hand edge of the next field towards a way-marked stile (with a dog-gate), next to a metal gate. Cross the stile and keep to the grassy path while heading for a yellow way-marker – by a gap between two pieces of stone. High up on the left, is the Leyburn Shawl where the walk began. Continue across this field towards a way-marker on the fence in the distance, following a wire and post fence to the left –while ignoring the track leading away to the left. Climb another stile – with a dog-gate, then head through a gated gap in the next wall which leads into a field near the railway line. Pass through a gate then climb a concrete flight of steps over the fence to cross the track before using a similar staircase to cross back over the fence on the other side. The steps were easy – even for a small dog like Izzy!
- Cross the next field, heading diagonally uphill towards a gate and the road – near to some houses to the right. Pass through the gate and turn right on to a path alongside but separated from the road. Follow it as it bears uphill and to the left, back into the centre of Leyburn.