Buckden Pike and Hubberholme - the waterfall walk
This is undoubtedly my favourite walk in Wharfedale. A circular route starting at the
amazingly pretty hamlet of Hubberholme, walking along the banks of the Wharfe to Buckden, then climbing Buckden Pike by way of a series of spectacular waterfalls,
and finally returning to Hubberholme via Cray.
This is also a very little known walk. That's because the path up the waterfalls has always been
just that, a path rather than a public footpath. Now it's access land so the status is no longer in doubt. Or maybe the lack of popularity is down to
having to climb the third waterfall. Who knows. To be fair, there is a route round the third waterfall,
but it's not half as much fun.
The walk being circular you can start from anywhere. There's a large car park in
Buckden, but it does get full, and you have to pay. There's free parking for about a dozen cars
available at Hubberholme, so that's where we start from. If Hubberholme's full,
take the road on the church side of the bridge and there's some more unofficial
parking a few hundred yards away at Stubbing Bridge.
Hubberholme is a tiny hamlet, deep in what was once a Royal hunting forest.
It has but two buildings of note, the Church and the Pub. Both are things of beauty.
The church is a squat Norman structure with a delightful rugged beauty all its own.
In fact it's rather like a smaller version of Linton Church, and that was old in
Norman times. The church has a few claims to fame.
It has a lovely rood loft dating
from 1558 which must make it one of the oldest in England. According to
Wikipedia, in church architecture a "rood" is a wooden or stone gallery
designed to support a cross, and this is the only one I've ever seen in Yorkshire.
The church is also the last resting place of
J B Priestley's ashes, and the pews are by
Robert Thompson the mouseman of Kilburn. That's not bad for a small
Over the bridge from the church is
The George. An ancient pub serving decent beer, but it can get awfully crowded,
and it's just too early on the walk to stop for a pint.
From the George, head down the road towards Buckden. This is a nice quiet road,
and after a few minutes you pass Kirkgill Manor on the left. This proudly proclaims
how it was restored by Bishop Heber a former Bishop of Calcutta; one of those Victorian
gentlemen who spent their days earnestly civilising heathens in every corner of
the Empire. Shortly after passing the manor, the Dales Way joins from the
left, and we follow it all the way to Buckden along the banks of the Wharfe. Behind
Buckden is the massive bulk of Buckden Pike which we will be climbing.
Buckden is quite unusual a village. It's very open, and linear, whereas all the
other villages in a Wharfedale are more compact. Anyhow it's very pleasant, and
we walk up the lane behind the
Buck Inn (still too early for a pint) and enter Buckden Gill (aka Buckden
Beck) a massive cleft in the side of the hill.
This is where the real walk starts. Ignore the signposted path to Buckden Lead Mine
and Starbotton, and follow the stream. The beck contains a series of three
big and half a dozen small waterfalls. I've never seen better in Yorkshire, but
now that so much more access land is open who knows what I might find. They make
idyllic picnic spots, so idle and soak in their beauty. The first two big waterfalls
are quite easy to walk round, the third less so. I always climb the third one by
the fairly easy route just to the left of the fall. But if you're more sensible than me, retrace
your steps until you can clamber up the left (North) side of the valley to just below the
fence. There you'll find a path which takes you above the fall.
The country now becomes wilder. We're out of the sheltered valley and onto exposed
moorland. Continue following the stream uphill past another waterfall, and then
all the way up to the slagheap that marks "Buckden Lead Mine". Climb the slagheap
and enjoy the old workings. I love these old workings and find them so evocative.
At this point we're actually on a permissive footpath, which has waymarkers at intervals.
As you face the mine, the path goes off at about 10 0'clock over the brow
of the hill and up to the summit. If you can't see the path for any reason just head for
the right-angle where the two field walls meet and climb up from there.
The summit is not so much a summit as a plateau about 1200 yards long running parallel
to the valley. At the northern end of the plateau is the trig point and a cairn,
and at the Southern end is a memorial to a bomber that crashed in WWII killing all
the crew bar one. Having climbed all this way it would be churlish not to take a
good look at both.
One point to note, the
cairn's on the near side of the wall while the memorial's on the far side. Near the cairn is a stile, make use of it as it's the only way over the wall. Interestingly
enough, the stile's also on a bridleway, so if you're planning to do this bridleway on horseback make sure you're mounted on a top class show jumper.
After exploring the summit, we head for Cray. The path to Cray goes straight off
the Northern end beyond the cairn, and is a broad well used path. If you follow
it all the way it leads to the car park in Buckden, which is the most common way
up the hill. We don't do that, we follow it down until we're directly above the
hamlet of Cray in the valley down below. At this point leave the path and make a
beeline for Cray. It's nice open country, and contains more rabbits than I've ever
seen anywhere else in my life. As you reach the bottom, there's a short path leading
directly down to the bridge at Cray, and finally, finally, a well deserved pint
at the White Lion.
The White Lion is one of those superb Dales pubs that's so far pretty unspoilt.
They do good hearty food, accommodation, good beer, you can camp in the back garden
and it's dog
friendly. There are plenty of tables outside, and even though they've
rearranged the inside it's not been spoilt.
However, the last time I visited, dripping
with sweat on a hot June day with a thirst like no other, they served me a pint
so abominable I actually considered not finishing it. The beer was pale, murky and
very burnt tasting. Golden Pippin from Copper Dragon Brewery it was, and if they
renamed it "Toasted Whippet" it would be more apt. I've had other beers from Copper
Dragon before and been well pleased, and I've had some fine pints at the White
Lion, but this was beyond the pale. How it ever got past quality control is
After leaving the White Lion the path goes behind the pub and follows a beautiful
little stream all the way down to Stubbing Bridge. Keep your eyes open as the stream
is generally heaving with Trout. Turn right at the bridge, head
down the road and in a few short minutes you're back at Hubberholme, and if you're
not driving there's the pleasant prospect of one for the road at The George.
Pictures of Hubberholme, Buckden Pike and Cray