On Otley Chevin

Otley Chevin

Walk Summary

A short but never less than fascinating walk visiting some of the many features of Otley Chevin and the surrounding Chevin Forest Park.

Distance: 5.5 miles
Total ascent: 1300ft
Walk Rating: *****
Parking: Surprise View car park
Route: Download Route [GPX]

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Walk Report

We were planning a family walk with my daughter and her cousin and had considered Pen-y-ghent. However, with a forecast of strong winds and showery rain, we decided it probably would not be the best conditions for introducing them to Three Peaks country. Instead I plumped for something closer to home which would combine good views with plenty of woodland to act as shelter from any rain or wind.

There are a number of car parks to choose from when planning a visit to The Chevin. I decided to begin the walk at the Surprise View car park on York Gate. My reasoning being that we’d be able to enjoy the finest section of the walk at the beginning AND the end of the route.

“As we hadn’t arrived until midday the plan had been to have a bite to eat at the cafe. Unfortunately it happened to be closed that day leaving us with two hungry and disappointed ten year old girls.”

Fortunately we’d just missed one shower as we parked the car. Leaving the car park we immediately arrived on the edge of the escarpment with super views down the valley towards Almscliff Crag and to Otley below us. Turning left we walked up to the view indicator in the remains of Jenny’s House and then on to a small gritstone crag. This is a super spot and probably the best viewpoint of the entire ridge. It is a shame really that it is not the actual summit.

Continuing on for another five minutes or so I made a short detour from the main path to visit the highest point of The Chevin. It is found alongside a thin path above the remains of Yorkgate Quarry. An Ordnance Survey trig point once adorned the summit but this seems to have fallen victim to the quarry as long ago as 1969. Today the summit is unmarked and with nearby trees blocking some of the views is one of the least interesting aspects of The Chevin.

Returning to the main path we continued west for a short time before dropping down into Wilsons Wood. Along the left hand edge of the wood there were some large gritstone boulders which the girls enjoyed climbing on and exploring. Indeed at one point Shannon exclaimed ‘This is amazing!’.

After a few minutes we left the right of way to take another path, initially quite thin, contouring above some more crags which were largely hidden below us in the trees. This path gradually turned into a wide largely level track. Passing below the unseen rocks near Surprise View we came across the Vacca Wall, an unusual line of upright stones. I’ve not been able to find out much about this but presumably it is a vaccary wall, a type of enclosure dating back to medieval times.

At the end of the Vacca Wall we descended the long steep steps heading towards the White House. As we hadn’t arrived until midday the plan had been to have a bite to eat at the cafe. Unfortunately it happened to be closed that day leaving us with two hungry and disappointed ten year old girls.

Returning to the foot of the steps we took a path slanting upwards a short distance before taking a more level path heading for the car park at East Chevin Quarry. From the car park we carefully crossed the busy road to access a path a bit further downhill heading east into the trees.

This was another lovely section of woodland and along the way I noted a number of tree identification signs. I’d also noticed throughout the walk a number of signs showing the name of that particular wood, how many hectares it was and when it was planted. Another item of interest on this part of the walk was an information board at the site of an Iron Age settlement. Unfortunately, due to the rampant undergrowth nothing could be seen of the excavations.

Gradually the path slanted up below Caley Crags to join another path. I made a quick detour to the right to visit the top of some of the higher crags before we resumed heading east. As we came out of the woods we approached some power lines. Here we took a thin path to join another track before taking another thin path, below some more power lines to reach a junction of paths. Here we found another of a number of sculptures that are dotted about the woods.

Continuing on straight ahead we made another short detour to visit the Caley Deer Park trig point. Sadly this has been vandalised since my last visit with someone removing both the flush bracket and the spider. Back on the track we followed this all the way to a car park on East Chevin Road. Crossing over we walked uphill 100m to reach The Cheerful Chilli tearoom where we were finally able to get something for Rhiannon and Shannon to eat.

Recharged we crossed back over the road to descend on a thin path alongside the road before recrossing again to access Miller Lane. This enclosed lane rose gradually back up to the main Chevin ridge. The walk concluded with a pleasant stroll back along the ridge to the car park and a final treat from the waiting ice cream van.

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