Birks Tarn on Birks Fell

Birks Fell via Moor End

Walk Summary

An excellent walk from Kettlewell on to Birks Fell via Moor End before returning along the Dales Way enjoying superb views of the dale throughout.

Distance: 12.0 miles
Total ascent: 1950ft
Walk Rating: *****
Parking: Yorkshire Dales car park, Kettlewell
Route: Download Route [GPX]

Photo Gallery

Walk Report

Although I’ve been up Birks Fell several times this walk allowed me to take a route of ascent and descent that I’d not used before. Combined with a nice stroll back along the Dales Way I thought it would be a good walk to take my work colleagues on as we continue to practice for the Nidderdale Way.

Starting at the Yorkshire Dales car park in Kettlewell we immediately left the village to cross over Kettlewell Bridge. Rather than taking the riverside footpath immediately over the other side we took the bridleway a bit further up to the right.

“Along this stretch we saw not just one but two common lizards running around on the dry stone wall. One even kindly stopped long enough for me to take a picture.”

At this point there are a few options for heading up on to Birks Fell, including the steep climb up to The Slit. On this occasion we continued on the broad stony track towards Moor End. This soon began to wind its way up the fellside giving excellent views up the valley and back down to Kettlewell.

It was something of a surprise when we did eventually reach Moor End. I hadn’t expected to find a large farmhouse so high up on the hillside. Although now empty and abandoned it is in a great location overlooking Wharfedale and we all agreed it would be a cracking place to live.

Beyond Moor End the now faint path actually dropped slightly through the next couple of pastures until it joined the Starbotton to Arncliffe bridleway. Turning left on this we began a steady climb up on to the broad crest of the long Birks Fell ridge.

Without passing through the gate in the wall we turned right for a gentle one and a half mile climb up to the Firth Fell trig point. By this time the views had opened out beyond Wharfedale to also include Fountains Fell and the Yorkshire Three Peaks to the west.

From the trig point we continued following the ridge wall to the north-west, briefly joining the Litton to Buckden bridleway. Along this stretch we saw not just one but two common lizards running around on the dry stone wall. One even kindly stopped long enough for me to take a picture.

Shortly after passing the ruins of a building we left the wall to head to the small rise topped with a cairn that marks the summit of Birks Fell. Having taken the obligatory group photo at the top we turned right on a thin path in grass heading towards Birks Tarn. I’d hoped to sit and eat lunch alongside this lovely sheet of water but there was a cold breeze so instead we took shelter behind the nearby broken wall.

After eating our fill we continued along the faint path just above the broken wall to once again rejoin the Litton to Buckden bridleway. Turning left on this we commenced an enjoyable descent with great views of Buckden Pike. Finally leaving the open fellside the bridleway wound its way down through woods and pasture to reach Dubb’s Lane, the narrow road connecting Buckden with Hubberholme.

Turning right we walked five minutes along the road to reach Buckden Bridge. Without crossing the river we turned right again to join the Dales Way. The following four mile return to Kettlewell along the Dales Way was as easy as it was delightful with the pastures full of newborn lambs.

This was a fantastic walk, made even more enjoyable by the superb weather and visibility. Walking conditions were perfect with plenty of sunshine but also some cloud cover and a cool breeze to stop one from getting too hot. Although Birks Fell is not the shapeliest of hills this route does allow for some great views, particularly of Wharfedale. For those wanting a more extended walk in Wharfedale this walk is highly recommended.

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