Buckden to Kettlewell via Arncliffe

Old Cote Little Mor

This moderate but lengthy walk takes in some classic Yorkshire Dales country walking and visits several drinking establishments on the way. From high on remote limestone and shake hole-ridden hills, to beautiful wide open stone walled meadows and quaint picture perfect villages with friendly tea rooms and country inns, this route takes in all those unique novelties of the Yorkshire Dales. Starting at the village of Buckden below the mass of Buckden Pike, the route heads up onto the ridge of Old Cote Moor before heading down into the peaceful village of Arncliffe. From Arncliffe the walk ascends through Byre Bank Wood then over the ridge again down into the idyllic village of Kettlewell in the neighbouring Wharfedale. After indulging in the tasty offerings of the tea rooms of Kettlewell, the walk then follows the Dales Way long distance footpath alongside the River Wharfe back to Buckden at the upper end of Wharfedale.

Route Directions

  1. This walk starts from the quiet village of Buckden at the northern end of Wharfedale. There is a car park at the northern end of the village at grid reference SD 942 773.
  2. If heading to Buckden from the south, head north on the B6265 from Skipton. After eight miles you will reach Threshfield. Turn left here to head north on the B6160. After six miles you will reach Kettlewell, drive through Kettlewell still heading north, and after four miles you will reach Buckden.
  3. If heading to Buckden from the north, head south on the B6160 from the main A684 Sedbergh to Wensley road, where it leaves the road at a junction near Aysgarth in Wensleydale. After heading south-west for ten miles you will reach Buckden.
  4. From the car park walk in to the village centre take the minor road known as Dubb's Lane that heads west then north west towards Hubberholme. After two hundred metres cross the bridge over the River Wharfe and continue along the road for four hundred metres until you reach Redmire Farm.
  5. At Redmire Farm turn left towards the farm until you reach a junction of tracks. Here instead of going left towards the farm, follow the footpath signs straight ahead and ascend a steep track.
  6. After a while you will reach a gate at a large sheep pen. Pass through to the other side of the sheep pen and continue along the path through bracken and then up onto the open moorland of Birks Fell.
  7. Looking behind now over Upper Wharfedale behind you get a really good view of Buckden and its location below the mass of Buckden Pike. You will be able to see the small ravine of Buckden Gill heading up Buckden Pike and the old disused Buckden Gavel Mine.
  8. Continue on the steep ascent of Birks Fell towards Frith Fell and Old Cote Moor Top. This is an arduous two kilometre steep ascent, boggy in places, but improved recently in parts by stone flagging.
  9. When you reach the top of the ridge you will be at a junction consisting of stone walls and a gate. Don't pass through the gate, instead turn left and head south east with the stone wall on your right.
  10. After a hundred and seventy metres you will reach the familiar sight of a white OS trig pillar. This is the summit of Firth Fell, at 607m above sea level, the highest point on the walk. There is confusion as to the actual name of the hill upon which this trig sits. Some say this is the top of Frith Fell, others say it is the summit of Old Cote Moor Top.
  11. From the Frith Fell summit head south to south east. Keep the stone wall on your right close by for three hundred metres, then start heading south east, following the path to a protruding corner of two stone walls on Old Cote Moor Top.
  12. At that protruding corner of stone walls, cross the stile then continue heading south east along the ridge keeping the stone wall on your right. This path is rough and you need to take care to avoid the large shake holes.
  13. Shake Holes are large holes in the ground often found in limestone areas. They are formed when the ground falls into subterranean holes and caves. This is often the case in broken up and weathered limestone that has spent years being covered by grass and soil.
  14. After just over a kilometre and a half, the ridge starts to descend and reaches a very obvious bridleway that seems to cut across the ridge from left to right. Follow the bridleway to the right and descend it towards the village of Arncliffe in the neighbouring Littondale.
  15. As you descend, the village will come into view and it is a stunning setting. When you enter the village you need to cross the bridge over the River Skirfare, then turn right on a small road, passing houses on your way to the villages green.
  16. Arncliffe is a typical quaint Yorkshire Dales village with centuries old stone cottages. The hub of the village is The Falcon, a perfectly situated traditional Yorkshire Dales pub that still serves ale the traditional way, straight from the barrel. For real ale enthusiasts a visit is a must.
  17. The way out of Arncliffe is to follow your footsteps back down the lane passing the houses then cross the stone bridge over the River Skirfare. This time however, immediately after you have crossed the bridge, turn right and take a footpath along the river bank until you reach a gate out on to the small tarmac road.
  18. Take care here as the path really does just meet directly with a road that can be busy in summer. Cross the road and ascend the obvious path through the field opposite and over a stone wall. The path now heads up an exciting path through Byre Bank Woods, and at the top over the tricky Park Scar.
  19. After coming out of the woods you are again on open moorland. Head off to the right in an easterly direction and ascend once again to the top of the ridge. At the top of the ridge cross the tall stile and continue east down the other side of the ridge until Kettlewell comes into view.
  20. The ascent to Kettlewell is easy but made interesting by a small scramble through Gate Cote Scar. The views up and down Wharfedale show you exactly why people flock to these beautiful wide open valleys in the summer months. There is nowhere on earth that looks like the Yorkshire Dales with its masses of ancient stone walls and natural meadows dotted with small stone barns.
  21. When you reach the tarmac main road at the bottom of the descent, cross the bridge over the River Wharfe to Kettlewell and enjoy its many tea rooms, drinking establishments and even a useful outdoor gear shop.
  22. From Kettlewell head back over the River Wharfe road bridge, take the path to the right again, then follow the obvious way marks of the Dales Way which now follows the banks of the River Wharfe in a northerly direction.
  23. The Dales Way is now extremely easy to follow back to Buckden, and is a pleasant long walk, following the River Wharfe to the north end of the valley, and back to the start of your journey.
  24. After three kilometres you will reach the footbridge to Starbotton. If you have the time then cross the bridge over the river and take the short route up this path to the village. The Fox and Hounds pub awaits you with a friendly welcome.
  25. Return to the path crossing back over the River Wharfe and turn right heading north again. After two and a half kilometres make sure you stick to the river bank following the official right of way of the Dales Way. Don't keep on the track heading towards Redmire Farm.
  26. You will reach Dubb's Lane down which you walked earlier in the day. Here, turn right, cross the bridge over the River Wharfe, and after a few hundred metres you will find yourself back in Buckden at the start of the walk.
  27. In case those several drinking establishments were not enough for you, there is also the The George Inn at Hubberholme for quality home cooked food, well kept cask beers and comfortable accommodation. To find Hubberholme simply head back up the Dubb's Lane in your car for a mile.

Maps for this walk

Paper maps for this walk

Click to buy OS Explorer OL30 Map Click to buy OS Landranger 98 Map Click to buy Harvey Outdoor Atlas Yorkshire Dales Click to buy Pathfinder Guides Yorkshire Dales

GPS files for this walk

Route map of this walk

Photos & Trip Reports

Planning for a walk

Check the weather

The weather is a very important part of hill walking. Weather conditions and daylight hours will dictate where you walk, what gear you will need to carry, how far you walk, and may even decide if you go at all. The following links will help you gather information on weather conditions for areas of Britain...

Plan your journey

Planning your journey before you set off for your walk can save you vital hours on the day. You need to make sure you know the area surrounding your starting point as many factors can influence or change the place you park. Don't forget change for parking meters and fees.

Maintenance of your vehicle and being ready for breakdown situations when driving to remote areas is also vital. Pack a full spare petrol can in your boot, and take de-icing tools in winter, including a shovel. The Transport Direct website below is a great resource for anyone wanting to get to the start of their walk using public transport...

Pack the right gear

Carrying and wearing the right gear is essential for walkers to remain comfortable and safe while hill walking in Britain. However, the best gear in the world is of no use to anyone who doesn't know how to use and care for it. Knowing how to use your gear will give you a much more enjoyable experience. The following items are, in my opinion, the essential items to wear and carry for a hill walk in Britain. It would be foolish to head into the hills and mountains of Britain without these essential items and the knowledge of how to use them. Check out the gear section of this site for techniques and gear lists...

  • Footwear
  • Clothing
  • Rucksack
  • Warm Clothes
  • Waterproofs
  • Map & Compass
  • Emergency Kit
  • First Aid Kit
  • Food & Drink
  • Seasonal Gear

Know what to do in emergencies

It is good practise to tell someone where you are going, and when you expect to return. If you don't get in contact when you said you would on your return, and those you told can't get hold of you, at least they will be able to provide the search party with your general location.

Emergency equipment in the check list above means items such as a survival bag, whistle, and emergency food rations. This isn't anything special; any whistle will do, the orange emergency bags only costs a few pounds, and basic food rations can consist of a couple of chocolate bars. Carrying a head lamp is also an important component and a vital piece of kit used for signalling when you require rescuing.

You should always try and get out of a difficult or emergency situation using your own gear, knowledge and energy. If you cannot do this, then you should dial 999 and ask for the police. Use all the gear you have to keep any unwell or injured members of your party or yourself safe and warm, and use your signalling devices to let the rescuers know your whereabouts. To do this blow six good long blasts on your whistle, or flash six flashes of your torch. Stop for one minute. Repeat. Carry on with the whistle blasts until someone reaches you, and don't stop because you've heard a reply.

Never contact mountain rescue unless absolutely necessary, but on the other hand don't ever feel guilty for having to do so, especially if you are a prepared walker. The Mountain Rescue teams are full of fantastic like-minded souls who love nothing more than people who are prepared for being safe in the mountains.