|Start:||Leathley Church (on the B6161)||Difficulty:||Moderate|
|Start (OS ref):||SE232471||Climbing:||202 metres|
|Parking:||Village Hall||Hazards:||Some roadside walking|
|Map (1:25,000):||297 Lower Wharfedale & Washburn Valley||Refreshments:||Pool in Wharfedale (1 mile)|
|Distance:||6.1 miles (9.9 km)||Route Map:||Memory Map (.mmo file)|
|Time:||2 - 3 hours||Route Map:||GPS (.gpx file)|
This walk is so convenient for those of you living in the North Leeds or Harrogate area. The starting point, Leathley is situated near to Pool in Wharfedale on the main Leeds to Harrogate road, the A658. It is near to the often over-crowded Chevin area near Otley and is peacefully idyllic with everything to offer the walker in terms of views, scenery and interesting sections including bridleways, fields, woods, tracks, beautiful villages, undulations and streams. I am confident you will enjoy this walk should you decide to do it. Leathley is a splendid little hamlet on the B6161 from Pool in Wharfedale to Killinghall near Harrogate. The road can be busy especially at the weekend but never enough to cause delays. Just outside the village towards Harrogate stands Lindley Farm, the original farm used in the Emmerdale Farm TV programme, and a familiar view of it can be seen during the walk.
|The Story of the Walk:
Start the walk by assembling at the little grass triangle on the opposite side of the main road to the church. Follow the Hall Lane Bridleway in an easterly direction past Leathley Hall and stay in a virtual straight line crossing stiles and avoiding tracks to your right as you negotiate Leafield Lane Bridleway with Riffa Wood straight ahead in your sights.
If its clear look slightly right of the wood at the Arthington Viaduct structure on the Leeds to Harrogate railway link. The walking so far is flat and although you in an area close to the conurbations of Leeds, Bradford and Harrogate you feel totally at peace in the pleasant countryside surroundings.
The only distractions that may throw you back to urbanisation might be distant noise from the nearby A638 or that of an aircraft arriving or departing from Leeds/ Bradford airport. Even these disturbances will go soon as you leave the bridleway to cross a field towards Thrispin Beck. The beck is a lovely little spot to stop for a breather and drink before entering Riffa Wood. Note there are stepping stones across Thrispin Beck so consider not doing the walk in times of excessive rain.
In the wood you face a slight climb but its a peaceful spell and at its best in spring when the bluebells are out forming a beautiful carpet on the ground. The wood is short in length but with it being uphill you can take your time to enjoy the wondrous splendour of the wood and the tranquil peace it has to offer.
While in Riffa Wood also take time to lok for an unusual carving made out of a rock. It sits beside the west side of the track, or to your left as you walk up through the wood. The figure in the rock looks content and why not in such brilliant surroundings.
Leave the wood and enter fields of pasture. Turn left and make a slight climb into a second field to the top of the nearby land. From here look straight on towards the village of Stainburn. The walk is now slightly downhill and if you look to your right you will see the outcrop of Almscliffe Crag. Walk into Stainburn and follow the road through the village until you reach a bend in the road to your left. Leave the road and go through a field that takes you up to the church.
The church is in a wonderful setting on the hilltop. It has served the people well over the years as is shown by the epitaphs on the gravestones in the churchyard. Take some time out to read some of the poignant memorials written. It is a refreshing reminder of community spirit, a virtue I deeply believe in and one we must cherish. The panoramic views from the church are stunning on a clear day and just imagine as you look south to the Chevin Hill that just beyond is the much different chaotic world that exists in the sprawls of Leeds and Bradford.
Leave the churchyard and walk up the road for 400 yards to the village of Braythorn which in reality is a row of properties in a single line on a very quiet country lane. On reaching the village chapel leave the road and then turn left down a path that takes you down towards West Beck, alternatively titled Stainburn Gill befire climbing from the gill to follow the lane a little more and then out into the open through fields and over stiles to West End Farm.
After West End Farm cross the B8181 and walk over the fields that occupy Leathley Moor in a westerly direction towards Lindley Green. You leave the fields and meet a road at a junction with a sign pointing to Lindley. Stop for a while and if you look to the south and down the fields you will see the original location of Emmerdale Farm. After looking follow the single track road to Lindley. At the village leave the road and walk down a lane for about 200 yards until you see a stile pointing you left down a hill. Follow this route to Lindley Bridge and the trout farm.
At the bridge near the farm take a break and take stock as there is only the home leg of about one mile to go. This final mile is along a stream in lovely scenery. This last leg is delightful and pays a complement to the whole walk. A distinct path follows the stream through little copses and fields where birds and butterflies are in abundance.
All too soon the path leads us out of this spot to the main road that we must follow back to the church. This is a chore and brings us back to reality in a flash. I would like to see a path continue along the stream to the church here as it would make the walk perfect. Is it possible without infringing on anyone's privacy?
And so a fantastic and enjoyable walk is done, and one so near to the folk of the Leeds and Harrogate areas. It is getting to be popular with the increasing participation in leisure walking. It is so obvious to me why this is so...it's brilliant.
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