A short but super walk exploring the fantastic limestone scenery above Conistone in Wharfedale including Gurling Trough, Conistone Dib and Conistone Pie.
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When I suggested to my daughter Rhiannon that we go for a short walk on Sunday afternoon I was more than pleasantly surprised when she said yes. Even better she began to make plans to for us to make a little video of the walk.
I picked this route because it was short, not too far away to drive to and, more importantly, it packs a lot of interesting features in to a small area. It had also been a few years since I’d last been this way and I wanted to get some more up-to-date pictures for the ‘Limestone’ section that I’m currently working on for this website.
“On the way back Rhiannon spotted what she thought was a mouse on the path. What her keen eyes had spotted was in fact a shrew.”
Starting from the west side of Conistone Bridge, where I parked the car on the roadside, we walked through the village to take the stony track signposted for Conistone Dib. Already we had filmed a couple of short scenes for what had now become the first episode of ‘Adventures with Rhanny’!
The entrance to Conistone Dib is via Gurling Trough, an atmospheric little limestone gorge which is one of my favourite places in Wharfedale. After passing through Gurling Trough and into the Dib proper Rhiannon was already complaining she was hungry (to be fair it was 12.30pm). At her suggestion we scrambled halfway up the steep grassy bank on our right to a spot where we had a fine view of the dry valley whilst we ate our picnic.
After lunch we continued our way all the way up the Dib to the simple but still quite exciting little scramble at the end. After a brief detour to look back down the valley we then crossed Scot Gate Lane to follow the Dales Way north to Conistone Pie.
Conistone Pie is a prominent limestone outcrop on a grassy knoll with a superb view of two valleys – Littondale and Wharfedale. We spent quite a while at the Pie, enjoying the views, taking photos, recording more video clips and scrambling about on the rocks.
Eventually we decided to head back to Scot Gate Lane. On the way back Rhiannon spotted what she thought was a mouse on the path. What her keen eyes had spotted was in fact a shrew. I’ve come across a few dead shrews during my travels and caught fleeting glimpses of others but this was the first time I’d got a good look at one.
Indeed we got a very good look at this busy little character, which we named Stuart, as he rushed about sniffing the ground and us. Indeed it was so unafraid of us that when I sat in the grass it ran around me, under me, over my trainer and briefly on to my leg. Rhiannon fell in love with it and later said it was one of the best things she had seen in her life.
After spending over ten minutes in the company of the shrew and taking dozens of blurry photos we decided to part company with our little friend. The route back was simplicity itself, following Scot Gate Lane all the way back into the village. Along the way we had some more great views of Conistone Dib and also saw some Zwartbles sheep.
This was a super walk. Apart from a brief five minutes of feeling lazy post-lunch Rhiannon not only did not complain but also really enjoyed herself, taking in and appreciating the surroundings. The encounter with the shrew was an added bonus. For my part I’ve long held the limestone country around Conistone in high regard and it was a real joy to share it with my daughter.