Weds 9th July 2014 – Yellow Sheep & Walk Around Bishopdale

After the last walk in Buckden (see here) and the near death experience I had carrying a large heavy rucksack I made the decision to stay a low level and avoid the sherpa training session this time around. Again, the choice of where to walk was made difficult by there being so much choice available. We certainly enjoyed the scenery on the last walk, and enjoyed the carnival atmosphere surrounding the Tour de France too, so we thought we would pass over the “Cote du Cray” and go into Bishopdale to enjoy its delights. I decided to start from Thoralby as there is easy parking behind the village hall, and there is also a pub in close proximity to enable one to rebalance fluid loss on completion of the walk.

Distance:  7.0 miles
Ascent:  426ft
Sandwiches:  Home smoked ham salad on home made wholemeal bread
Soup:  eh? You kidding!

Elevation Profile
OS Route Map
3D View of Route

As we had both taken some time off work we decided to go to Thoralby mid-week to avoid the weekend rush. As is usual we set off mid-morning to avoid the commuter rush and the drive over was quite easy and steady. We chose to go through Upper Wharfedale to take in the delights of the remnants of the TdF from four days earlier. There was still multi-coloured bunting lining the route, along with signage, advertising and names spray painted onto the road, so the spirit of the day was still there, as was a large number cyclists along the route. As we approached Kettlewell there were a number of people going in the opposite direction who were pulling their cars to the side of the road to take photographs. I thought they were getting a high level photo of Kettlewell, as it does look like a typical Dales village at this point with the fells rising in the background and is photogenic. We passed them by and drove steadily up through the centre of Kettlewell, passed through Buckden, up through Cray, up the “Cote du Cray” or Kidstones Pass as it is alternatively known, and started the descent into Bishopdale.

The descent down into Bishopdale
Bishopdale Farmhouse & Barns

We continued the drive along the road through Bishopdale, turned left off the main road, drove past the old mill and up into Thoralby. We parked at the rear of the village hall and put a donation into the honesty box situated on the wall of the hall. We changed into our boots, I put the map into my shirt pocket and put the rucksack on. Thankfully, this time it was a small daysack and not 70 ltr backpacking one with two folding chairs strapped to it. We made our way across the gravel car park, down the side of the village hall and onto the road.

Original Village Hall doorway in Thoralby


We started along the road to the centre of the village and no sooner had week got into our stride we were passing a pub. It seemed a bit of a cop out to just walk past, particularly as the sun was shining on the bench seating outside. We decided to nip in for a swift one. It was about half past midday, so don’t be thinking it was anything like an “Australian breakfast”.

A quick ‘livener’ prior to the walk

We sat on the timber benches and enjoyed the cold beer, the sunshine and the salty crisps – oh! how the other ‘alf live! We savoured the drinks and sat there contemplating whether to call the walk off and stay all day, or to finish off this first one and then crack on with the walk. Sanity prevailed, we drained our glasses, and I hoisted the rucksack on and we continued along Westfield Lane, the main road that bisects Thoralby

The George Inn at Thoralby

There were some interesting looking buildings along the road, and the village itself had a particular charm about it. We soon left the buildings and main village behind and started gradually climbing up and passing the grand looking Heaning Hall farm. We took a right fork on the macadam road and made our way along Eastfield Lane, which looked as though it was a ‘proper’ road at some time in the past. The walk along this lane was very pleasant indeed, and the views to the surrounding fells were very expansive.

Stone barn off Eastfield Lane
Eastfield Lane, Thoralby

We continued ambling along Eastfield Lane, and heading for Eshington Bridge where the main vehicular road along Bishopdale crossed Bishopdale Beck.

Derelict stone barn off Eastfield Lane.
Curious sheep at Eshington Bridge

We progressed to Eshington Bridge and just after the bridge we turned right through a stone ‘squeeze’ stile and into a lush field. This footpath lead us up to the attractive village of West Burton. Halfway along, we decided to sit on the grass and have our lunch. We consumed the sandwiches whilst lying on our backs and watching the cloud formations pass by overhead. Afer some time, we put half the sandwiches back and then packed our things away into the rucksack, and off we went into West Burton to see what delights it had to offer us.

We approached West Burton by way of a small alleyway which brought us out onto a street called Back Nook, at the lower end of the village. As we got onto Back Nook we turned left away from the road that lead to the village centre. This was so we could go past the Old Mill and look at the waterfalls on Walden Beck. We passed by a well kept and attractive looking stone cottage that was made quite striking by the colourful planters to the front and it stood out on the bare street.

Craggley Cottage on Back Nook, West Burton

We continued along Back Nook until we got to the road of Front Nook (imaginative street names here!) where we turned right and headed towards the old mill at the lower end of the village. We passed through the lane at the side of the old mill and headed towards the wooded glade on Walden Beck where the water passes over a break in the limestone strata. The artist JMW Turner came here in 1816 and did a small sketch of the waterfall, possibly with the idea of turning it into a watercolour at a later date. The waterfall is known locally as Cauldron Falls.

Waterfalls at West Burton

After leaving the waterfalls, we retraced our steps back past the old mill, and headed up along Front Nook towards the village centre. As we walked up to the village green we passed by The Cat Pottery, and as we have three cats of our own Mrs MuddyBoots dragged us in for a mooch around the shop. The statues were very good, very life-like and accurate.

The Cat Pottery, West Burton – Ruby the cat playing with a mouse

We left the Cat Pottery behind and progressed up through the village and across the village green. We headed for the village shop to see if we could get an ice cream, but unfortunately the shop had a half day closing and we had picked that particular day to visit. With the absence of ice cream, we decided to console ourselves with another pint in the village pub.

West Burton

We got to the Fox and Hounds and decided to sit outside on the wooden benches. I went in and got two pints, one of them was a fruit flavoured cider which I had never seen before. I just cannot resist fruity flavoured drinks, the more odd they are, the better in my book – I’m just attracted to them like a moth to a light.

Fruity cider at The Fox & Hounds

We sat in the sun and enjoyed our cold refreshing drinks with the Tour de France yellow bunting fluttering in the air high above us. Slowly we emptied our glasses and decided to move on. We departed the pub walked up through the village to Town Head, a steady climb too as the village is built on a hill. We took the footpath through a farmyard that ran parallel to Little Beck. The path was clearly visible through the drystone walls and as we progressed we gained altitude with every step. It wasn’t quite like the last walk where we were constantly out of breath, but the climb was an obvious pull on the legs. As we climbed up the view to our left down the valley was breathtaking.

The view down to Bolton Castle in Wensleydale

Gradually the ground levelled off and we continued following the path which slowly made its way back down hill to East Farm. We passed through several of those typical narrow Yorkshire Dales stiles where you can only go through one leg at a time and which really become tiresome after a while. After crossing the pastureland, we got to an overgrown lane and made our way down to the ancient looking East Farm. We passed the farm on our right side and were soon on the surfaced road running through the attractive hamlet of Newbiggin.

There were quite a number of interesting vernacular buildings in Newbiggin, and the whole hamlet had the feel of being quite ancient indeed. We slowly ambled along the road as there was no traffic, just stopping to look at the carved stone lintels above the doorways, and to take in the overall feel of the place.

Newbiggin doorway dated 1636
Eastburn Farmhouse, Newbiggin

As we continued along the main street and came across yet another Yorkshire celebration of the Tour de France, which did pass by four days earlier on the main road running parallel to the hamlet. Like many other houses, this one was decorated in the yellow, green and red dots in celebration of the famous jersey colours and the house also sported the ubiquitous yellow bicycle.

A Newbiggin celebration of the Tour de France
Victorian post box

As we arrived at the end of Newbiggin we took the right fork in the road and walked down Turnsyke Lane. It was clear that this had not been used by any farm traffic in a long time and it is difficult walking among 3 feet high nettles whilst wearing shorts, and not to say quite painful too.

A 1948 vintage David Brown tractor in Newbiggin
Browns House, Newbiggin

As we approached the end of the overgrown Turnsyke Lane we came out into open fields. I can’t relate to you how grateful I was for this small blessing and left the nettles behind. As this was summer we were watching a number of farmers haymaking as we passed through the fields, and noted that the size of tractors had increased hugely since the vintage David Brown one that we passed earlier was manufactured. As we dropped down through the fields and approached the main road, we scanned the map to see if there was an alternative route to take from here. Footpaths were limited in his part of Bishopdale, and we had no alternative to but to walk a half mile along the road. Whilst we made good progress, it was a bit of “head down, plod on” type of walk here and fortunately the road was quiet. Before long, we came across a farm turning to our right, which we took and headed along towards Crooksby Barn. There was a recently refurbished field barn which we passed to our right in the field, and further on, a larger collection of farm buildings which we presumed to be Crooksby Barn. We were in the valley floor here and the going was very easy indeed.

As we walked along we picked up a long disused track that eventually turned into Westfield Lane. Along here we decided to stop again and finish our packed lunch. The rucksack came off, and we flopped down onto the grass and relaxed whilst we consumed the remaining comestibles. After thirty minutes or so, we had finished off what was left of the food, packed the containers away, hoisted the rucksack on my back and continued along the lane. We passed over  a small bridge shown as Littleburn Bridge on the map. There was a stone plaque on one side of the parapet wall written in Latin; my Latin is quite poor so I couldn’t make sense of it, but it transpired that Littleburn Bridge is a Grade II listed structure. The lane here became a well maintained macadam road and started to rise gently to bring us back to Thoralby. As we approached the western end of the village we passed by a field with a number of inquisitive horses which came down to the gate to greet us as we passed by. Well, their greeting was more likely to see if we had any carrots, apples or sugarlumps, but they were too late we had just finished the apples about thirty minutes previously.

“You Lookin’ at me?”

We continued along Westfield Lane and dropped down back into Thoralby. Westfield Lane forms the main thoroughfare in the village. As we approached the village hall, we considered nipping back into the George Inn to rebalance our lost fluids, but decided against it as it was now about seven o’clock and we would have to start making our way back.

We got back to the car and changed our footwear, put the rucksack into the back of the car and departed the village hall car park. We went back the same way we came and drove towards the head of Bishopdale. As we drove we passed a huge silage roll on a farm wall – nothing wrong with that you may say, they were haymaking – this one was wrapped in white polythene with a large circular label on it thus making it look like a gigantic cheese round. We saw a number of these strategically placed in fields along the route of the Tour de France, and no doubt the Wensleydale Creamery in Hawes had been using their milk suppliers to gain some useful, and well thought  out advertising. 

A giant cheese made from hay


We left Bishopdale behind and dropped down into Upper Wharfedale, and went through Kettlewell. As we drove over the river Wharfe and started to climb up hill towards Kilnsey, we saw, to our left, a field full of yellow sheep! – yellow jumpers of course! I realised why we saw people stopping to take photos here on our way through the valley this morning, nothing to do with Kettlewell at all, they were photographing moutons jaune that we couldn’t see from our side of the road. Naturally, I pulled over and also took some photographs.

Yellow jumpers!
Yellow sheep in Kettlewell

After the yellow ‘Tour de France’ sheep, I got back into the car and continued the drive back home whilst we discussed the highlights of the day and, of course, the yellow sheep!


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