A hugely enjoyable walk from Grassington to Conistone via the ancient woodland of Grass Wood before returning via Dib Scar and the limestone pastures of Lea Green.
|Parking:||Car park, Grassington|
|Route:||Download Route [GPX]|
Strong winds and frequent spells of showery rain were the forecast for the last Saturday of April. I'd already organised to go out for a walk with a couple of friends and with my wife also able to join us I didn't want to have to cancel because of the weather. I therefore came up with a wet weather plan - to start from Grassington and have a walk in Grass Wood. We would then have the option of extending the walk to Conistone if the weather wasn't too bad or, if it was very wet, to remain under tree cover as long as possible before returning to Grassington along the river.
It was raining quite heavily in Harrogate just before we all met up so I wasn't feeling particularly optimistic. However, there was not much rain encountered on the drive out to Grassington. Having parked the car at the main car park in Grassington we walked to the top of the main street. Following the road round to the left on to Chapel Street we continued on until we'd pass Dales Dairies. Just afterwards we took an enclosed lane on the right called Cove Lane.
"The path led us superbly above the deep partly wooded cleft with some impressive limestone scars opposite. This was new to me and I loved it."
We followed the lane past a few old abandoned barns before it turned into a grassy path entering Grass Wood. Grass Wood is a designated nature reserve managed by the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust. The wood has a feel to it which is almost unique in the Yorkshire Dales. One aspect of Grass Wood that always strikes me is the amount of moss covered limestone. In places these hide the scanty remains of iron age settlements, including the so-called Fort Gregory. I think that even the trained eye would struggle to differentiate which stones represent the ancient dwellings and which occur more naturally.
This was mine and Lisa's third visit to Grass Wood and by coincidence it was two years to the day since our previous visit. On this occasion we didn't detour to visit Fort Gregory but remained on the public right of way. Along the way we came across plenty of bluebells, dog-violets and primroses. We also saw, for the third time in a row, a red deer.
When we reached the bottom of the path where it comes down to Grass Wood Lane we had to make our decision to continue in the woods or to extend the walk to Conistone. There hadn't been any rain as such so we decided to push on. Therefore coming down to the road we turned right. A short distance on we took a stile into a field which cut out a short section of road. Back on the tarmac it was then an easy walk to Conistone. The highlight of this section were some long-haired sheep at the farm at White Nook. I'm not an expert on sheep breeds but I think they might have been Devon and Cornwall Longwools.
Just after passing the first few houses in Conistone we took a track doubling back up to the right. This climbed away with the wall before levelling out. A gentle climb then ensued with some dramatic views of the showers further up the valley over Kilnsey Crag and Buckden Pike. At the same time some small patches of sunlight began to appear over Kilnsey Moor on the opposite side of the valley.
Just before arriving at the head of the steep little valley marked on the map above Dib Beck we took shelter behind a wall to have our lunch. A passing shower was the only real rain we encountered on the whole walk. It was worth waiting out the shower as the sun came out above us just as we reached the rim of the steep little valley that hitherto I'd only seen on the map. Not named on the map this is Dib Scar. The path led us superbly above the deep partly wooded cleft with some impressive limestone scars opposite. This was new to me and I loved it.
All too soon though we reached the head of Dib Scar. The path then climbed up between a gap to run for a while alongside a wall. Coming to a junction we passed through a gate on the left to enter the open limestone pastures of Lea Green. The fine grassy track swung round to the right to cross a brow and begin a glorious descent back towards Grassington. Ahead of us were Grassington and Threshfield backed by the moorland heights of Thorpe Fell and Cracoe Fell. Finally, after exiting open access land, the green track gave way to field paths across several pastures to return to Grassington on Bank Lane. This brought us back to Chapel Street just above Dales Dairies.
Given that we soon found ourselves driving back to Harrogate in very heavy rain showers we got incredibly lucky with the weather. While it is always nice to visit Grass Wood the highlight for me was definitely Dib Scar and the lovely descent from Lea Green.