Climbing out of Waldendale

Brown Haw & Harland Hill

Walk Summary

A lovely walk up the Walden valley before a high level return via Brown Haw, Dovescar Moss and Harland Hill.

Distance: 10.5 miles
Total ascent: 2300ft
Walk Rating: ****
Parking: Roadside, Cote Bridge
Route: Download Route [GPX]

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Walk Report

Back in 2016 I led a walk of friends from work on a long route up to Buckden Pike from West Burton. As we passed through the scattered community of Walden Head I noted a track heading up the flanks of Brown Haw. At that point I’d only visited Brown Haw once and knew that one day I’d want to go up there again. Therefore I filed that track in Walden Head away in my memory banks for a future outing.

So it was that three years later I came up with this route. The idea was to walk up the valley before climbing up on to Brown Haw and returning over Harland Hill. To save a little bit of distance I didn’t start the walk in West Burton. Instead I parked the car on the roadside at grid reference SE018855 just over Cote Bridge.

“It was a lovely sunny day and visibility was excellent. The view panorama included the neighbouring heights of Little Whernside, Great Whernside, Buckden Pike and Naughtberry Hill.”

The initial part of the route was straightforward, I simply followed the road (Whiterow Road) to its termination at Nell Bank. The road only serves a handful of farms so was very quiet. It also runs above the valley floor so provides some superb views up and down the valley. As I approached Nell Bank the view of Buckden Pike at the head of the valley was particularly impressive.

While a track continues from Nell Bank to the next farms at Ashes, it is not a public right of way. I couldn’t find anyone to ask permission to walk along the track so instead I had to follow the public right of way which drops down to a bridge over Walden Beck before climbing up to Ashes.

From Ashes a thinner path passed through a number of pastures and one newly planted enclosure to gradually drop down to Temple Lane, the other road that serves the Walden valley. Turning left on this I continued on the road for another two thirds of a mile. Again the road was very quiet and there was no passing traffic. Not long after passing Uncles Farm House I came to a gate on my left leading to the track that I’d spotted three years before.

Passing through the gate I followed the track as it climbed steeply up the pasture. After a while the going eased somewhat as it arrived at another gate below some crags. Passing through this gate I turned right and followed the track as it slanted up quite superbly across Crag Brea. Again the views of the valley were fabulous.

At the top I left the track to commence a direct climb through pathless moorland grass and heather to the summit of Brown Haw. Finally I came to a fence, on the other side of which was a cairn marking the summit. It was a lovely sunny day and visibility was excellent. The view panorama included the neighbouring heights of Little Whernside, Great Whernside, Buckden Pike and Naughtberry Hill. Further afield I could make out the likes of Swarth Fell and Wild Boar Fell. Meanwhile, dotted around the cairn, was some cloudberry. This moorland plant is locally also known as knoutberry and is recorded in places names such as Great Knoutberry Hill and Knoutberry Haw.

Returning to the fence I carried on retracing my steps a short way to a quad track that I’d crossed over. Turning right on this I followed it for some way as it passed Precious Hull Tip and circled around the moorland bump of Great Fell Pot. As the path dropped down on to Dovescar Moss it looked like it was going to head towards another track at the top of Dove Scar. I therefore made my way towards the fence on my right. Turning left at this I then followed the fence all the way to where the bridleway from Braidley crosses over into the Walden valley.

Rather than turning left and returning via this bridleway I crossed straight over to carry on following the wall and fence over North Tarn Hills. Next I tackled the steeper slopes of Harland Hill. Reaching flatter ground I crossed over to the north side of the wall so that I could visit the small pile of stones marking the summit of Harland Hill.

From the top of Harland Hill I followed the wall to the north-east. Passing through the gate I then went in search of a track that is shown terminating at the 520m contour line. I eventually found it a bit lower than shown on the map. It proved to be a fine path, winding quite beautifully down towards Thupton Gill with some fantastic views over the foot of the Walden valley and across into Wensleydale.

After joining up with the bridleway at Thupton Gill I turned left to continue my descent to Whiterow Road. Just before reaching the road a ruin on the left proved to be the remains of Braithwaite Smelt Mill. Once on the road it was then a short walk back to the car.

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