An extended 13.5 mile walk up Langstrothdale and the Greenfield valley before returning via Cosh Knott Well, High Green Field Knott and Horse Head.
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In over 14 years of walking in the Yorkshire Dales I've not once set foot in the valley of Greenfield Beck, a stream that meets up with Oughtershaw Beck at Beckermonds to form the River Wharfe. To be fair few walkers seems to set foot in the valley, despite the fact that there are some rights of way and a quiet road that, at High Greenfield, turns into a byway that leads all the way to Horton-in-Ribblesdale.
I've also wanted to visit Cosh Knott Well for some time. Marked on the map immediately west of Cosh Knott I've seen this spring cited as the ultimate source of the River Wharfe. I thus decided that I could combine, not only a walk up the Greenfield valley with a visit to Cosh Knott Well, but also to visit two of my favourite trig points on the way back - Cosh Outside and Horse Head.
"There was a sudden loud crack of thunder which came out of nowhere. With the unappealing thought of being caught on the top of a hill in a thunderstorm I hurried on."
I started the walk from one of several parking spots on the roadside between Yockenthwaite and Deepdale Bridge. There is the option of following the Dales Way on the opposite bank of the river but I decided to walk along the riverbank on the roadside. Unsurprisingly, given the hot summer we've enjoyed, the Wharfe was looking very low. Indeed there were a number of places over the next couple of miles where the riverbed was completely dry.
At Deepdale Bridge I left the road to continue along the Dales Way. This is a particularly lovely stretch of the infant Wharfe and the dappled sunlight and moody skies made for some lovely photos. All too soon I reached the spot where Greenfield Beck meets Oughtershaw Beck to form the Wharfe. It was a slight shame there was hardly any water at this important spot. Definitely a place to return to when the river levels are a bit more normal.
Crossing Greenfield Beck at a ford below a footbridge I walked up into the tiny settlement of Beckermonds. Turning left on the road I headed into the Greenfield valley, or as some maps would have it, the upper reaches of Langstrothdale. The valley sides are covered in plantations but there were also some nice opens views. Indeed the three miles of road walking from Beckermonds to High Green Field was most pleasant.
Eventually I reached High Greenfield Farm at the head of the valley. So far during the walk there had been a couple light showers. Suddenly I was hit by a real downpour so I scurried through the farmyard to seek shelter in the trees on the far side. After five minutes it began to slacken off a little so I continued on the track, a restricted byway called Harber Scar Lane. Presumably so-called because it leads all the way to Horton-in-Ribblesdale via Harber Scar.
I'd imagined this section, through the plantations to be a bit claustrophobic. However, there were some nice areas of open meadow and all in all it was quite enjoyable. Having crossed, at some indeterminate point, the main Pennine watershed I finally emerged out of the trees on to Birkwith Moor. Here I left the track to climb the pathless moor on my left heading for the corner of the plantation above. It was an easy enough climb with only one slightly awkward wall as an obstacle. As I climbed higher the views opened out to include Ingleborough, Whernside and Blea Moor.
Reaching the wall corner I swung around to head north-east heading for Cosh Knott which could be seen clearly ahead of me. Just below Cosh Knott I met a broken wall just below which was a tiny stream. It is this stream that emerges from Cosh Knott Well so I followed the stream to its source. If it is the source of the Wharfe it is quite unusual to find that the views are almost entirely of Ribblesdale on the opposite side of the watershed to the Wharfe.
From the spring it was a short steep walk up to the magnificent stone pillar on Cosh Knott. For some reason the Ordnance Survey have decided to omit this fine construction from their maps. Together with the nearby trig point on Cosh Outside, it is one of my favourite viewpoints in the Yorkshire Dales with Three Peaks country seen particularly well.
After taking numerous photos on Cosh Knott I continued up to reach the trig point. The panorama from which is even more extensive and which now also included views of Littondale and the hills above Wharfedale. By this time I was now enjoying a nice spell of sunshine. It was also very windy and I had a little bit of trouble keeping the tripod to stand up so I could take the obligatory shot of me next to the trig point.
From the trig point I continued on to a modest limestone crag before heading for the nearby wall. This wall stretches all the way from Cosh Outside to the southern end of the lengthy ridge which divides Wharfedale from Littondale. Following the wall I soon came to the unmarked top of High Green Field Knott. Continuing on I descend to the broad tussocky col with Horse Head Moor. Here the path became faint and for the first time in the walk awkward underfoot.
After what seemed a long time I finally left the tussocks behind to begin a gradual climb on easier grass. This was also the point where the weather took a turn for the worse. Indeed there was a sudden loud crack of thunder which came out of nowhere. With the unappealing thought of being caught on the top of a hill in a thunderstorm I hurried on. By the time I reached the Horse Head trig point the threat seemed to have passed and the sun briefly made another appearance.
Continuing on to Horse Head Gate I began the descent back down into Langstrothdale. With the valley lit with sunshine and the bonus of a fine rainbow it promised to be a nice finish to the walk. However, my right knee suddenly began to hurt and then the thunder, this time joined by lightning, began again. It seemed to chase me, as fast as I could hobble, back down into the valley. I almost made it but 400m short of the car I was caught by a sudden and violent hail shower. Then, just as suddenly it stopped and the sun came out again - the final change of what had been a very changeable day weather-wise!
This was my first walk for several weeks and also one of the longest I've done this year, two things that probably contributed to my knee issues at the end of the walk. Despite this I really enjoyed this outing. Not only did I cover new ground but visited two of my favourite spots in the Dales. The changeable weather meant that the light and views were constantly changing, to my mind far more interesting than wall to wall sunshine. It was also blessedly cooler than recent weeks, indeed the wind was at times so cold I almost regretted leaving my gloves at home!