Lovely Barbondale

  • Connoisseur’s choice for a picnic spot
  • Extensive views from the long ridge
  • A peaceful and hidden Dales valley

Barbondale is one of my favourite valleys in the Dales. Barbon Beck meanders gently through a geographer’s dream, a steep sided valley carved out by the ice thousands of years ago. A Herriot style road runs next to the beck, a pleasure to walk on. The beck provides some wonderful picnic spots but is never over crowded (I have never found it so anyway) and as it runs pretty much south retains the sun for much of the day. Higher up there are some potholes and caves within the beck and I have seen madmen in full scuba gear plunging the depths.

The beck runs through the grounds of Barbon Hall (built specifically for cholera sufferers in the 19th century), which, although attractive in its own right, is most famous for a National B Motor hill climb. This is held intermittently and presently run by the Westmorland Motor Club. The last race was held on June 12th 2010.

However my walk starts with a steep climb out of the village of Barbon before it joins a long wide ridge which leads to the Marilyn of Calf Top. The ridge provides easy walking and offers some extensive views in all directions but in particular to the north and west where the Langdales are clearly visible. It is easy to forget that Barbondale is in Cumbria although, as we speak, the Yorkshire Dales National Park are trying to steal it for themselves! I do not blame them.

Update: Calf Top was reclassified as a mountain in 2016 broaching the magic 2,000 foot mark after a resurvey. Well done!

Calf Top is therefore one of the Dales 30 Mountains


Carry on over Calf Top for nearly 1 km before descending via a stile and aiming for the path arriving from the left (Dentdale) before arriving at the Barbondale Road. This is the most gradual slope of the steep fell side on the Barbondale side of Calf How.

Download GPX file

Barbondale map


All maps are copyright of Where2Walk ©2018

OS Map: O/S 1.25,000. OL2 Yorkshire Dales South & West. Buy Map
Start Point: SD 628825. After the church the track (hardly seen) heads for the east of a small copse named Ellers. Turn up hill directly opposite the small farm at Eskholme and the track becomes visible aon the slopes above.
Height to Climb: 559ms (1,834 feet)
Terrain: Some boggy sections on the high ground and an initially trackless steep descent are all to watch out for.
Eating & Drinking: The Barbon Inn in Barbon is a traditional 17th century coaching inn with good food and drink.
Similar Walks Nearby: Twisleton Scars from Chapel le Dale
Great Coum via Gragareth
Barbon, Casterton & the River Lune
Places to Stay:


  1. Jonathan says:

    It may depend where you left Calf Top for the descent. The sensible way along the ridge is a further 2 miles round trip. I descended by the steep front.

  2. Gill white says:

    Hello did this walk today, thoroughly enjoyed it. I measured it on my Fitbit and it came out at over 11 miles. We didn’t go wrong anywhere, just wondered about the difference in mileage.

  3. Jamie Norman says:

    The views are long distance, with some minor, fleeting interest – morecambe bay, howgills etc, but the first half of the walk is very, very dreary…almost void of wildlife. Saw one violet ground beetle, some dead frogspawn, one fungus, some gulls (flying down to the farm)…although there were skylarks every 100m or so after the first summit. The suggested descent is stupidly steep and dull – worth descending the other side I’d say, although it yielded a few wheatears on a wall, and the road walk led me past some coltsfoot and a pair of dippers swimming in the beck. One plus – I saw no-one at all, during Easter holidays, until I joined the road (1 cyclist, 5 vehicles) and 6 people in the woods near Barbon. Stay low in the valleys and they’re much more worthwhile.

  4. David Stamp says:

    Great comments about Barbondale – I live in Barbon and totally agree.

    Do remember that from August 2016 the Lune Valley villages of Barbon, Middleton and Casterton will be included within the expanded Yorkshire Dales National Park.

    We are very proud of that and seeing more walkers and cyclists in Barbon village and our fells….

    Do remember dogs on leads at all times when in fields with sheep and lambs. Not everyone remembers that…

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