A 3 mile circular walk around the wooded Pennine valley of Hardcastle Crags, near Hebden Bridge in West Yorkshire. Owned by the National Trust the valley comprises a beautiful shallow river, Hebden Water with steep wooded valley sides and you will have chance to discover lots of wildlife plus some industrial archaeology along the way. If you have children with you, you may wish to bring along crayons and paper as there are several engraved markers around the site, showing the various leaves and seeds in the woodland.
Dalby Forest and the Bridestones
Distance: 6 miles
Duration: 3 hours
Level of walk: Medium View Walks Key
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If you want a walk with a sense of wild freedom, where your pooch can enjoy extensive time off the lead on long grassy tracks and paths, this is the one for you. In spite of the title, there is little time spent in the actual forest – most of the walk is in peaceful open countryside with great views of the North York Moors and the almost ‘other-worldly’ Bridestones.
There is a charge of £4 (Feb 2012) per car to enter the Dalby Forest complex, but once in parking is free.
The Bridestones are knobbly sandstone outcrops formed 150 million years ago, and can be seen along the nature trail in Dalby Forest surrounded by 300 acres of moorland. There are many walking trails in Dalby Forest for you and your dog to explore.
- Take the footpath from the car park and head towards the trees, passing a National Trust sign for The Bridestones. Continue ahead on the path and at a kissing gate, bear right to a fork by a National Trust information board. Take the left path and head uphill, bearing right near the top of the climb through an area of birch trees heading for the open moorland.
- Continue on towards the impressive Low Bride Stones, now in sight ahead. From here there are great views of Bridestone Griff below and the North York Moors. Having past the stones, there is the option of a quick detour to the left to view the High Bride Stones as well. The walk however, continues to the right at this point following a yellow way-marker along a narrow path through the heather on Bridestones Moor, making for the tree line in front.
- The path comes out on to a broad track. Turn left and follow it along the edge of a forest for around ½ mile. This is a great area for your dog to romp around!
- At a National Trust information board by a gate, turn left along an uneven path and keeping the wire and post fence to the right, head towards a pond. The path wiggles downhill and stays close to the fence. At a National Trust marker-post, bear right towards a way-marked stile. There is no dog-gate here, so pooches will have to jump or be carried over but smaller dogs will probably be able to squeeze under – just as Izzy did!
- Turn left immediately through a metal gate leading to an enclosed farm track with wide grass verges on either side. This is another great opportunity for some bounding about! Approaching some farm buildings, turn right following a yellow way-marker into a field following the hedge line and fence to the left. Look out for cattle at this point. At the corner of the fence, follow another yellow way-marker to the left on a grassy path along the edge of bank which slopes away to the right.
- With a wire and post fence to the left, head towards the tree line in front while looking for a stile at the bottom right hand side of this rectangular enclosure. Cross the stile into the next field – again there is no dog-gate so most pooches will need a hand to get over. Keep straight ahead along the edge of the field respecting the landowner’s request to ‘use the grass verge’ with the fence and dry-stone wall to the right. Bear left, staying on the edge of the field, but now with buildings in view ahead and to the right. Head towards a wooden gate.
- Pass through the gate and turn left along a single track road (Pasture Road) for a short distance. After the road dips and bears right, follow a green and white public footpath sign to the left along a wide enclosed farm track. Keep ahead through the farm towards a wide metal gate by a National Trust Bridestones sign. Follow the track – it is safe for well-behaved dogs to be off the lead again here – downhill through another gate towards a house.
- After bearing right past the front of the house, turn immediately left. After passing chicken coups at the rear of the house, the path turns into a grassy track as it heads downhill towards a stream. Use the stepping stones to cross the stream, and continue ahead, with trees and a wire and post fence to the left, towards a kissing gate. Pass through the gate and head back along the path to the car park.