Kettlewell is dramatically surrounded by steep sided mountains which may be a little daunting. However it is perfectly straightforward to gain good height and enjoy the wonderful panorama of Upper Wharfedale without a steep climb. Two climbs in fact but neither steep.
The walk skirts the slopes of Great Whernside, Buckden Pike and Birks whilst following excellent paths at all time. Initially the walk heads up Top Mere Road with excellent views across to Great Whernside on your right. When the track meets the steeper slopes of Buckden Pike this walk turns west and drops to the pretty village of Starbotton on the River Wharfe. The second, shorter, section of the walk skirts through woodland on to the lower shoulder of Birks before descending back to Kettlewell.
The ever changing views of Wharfedale are best appreciated above the valley floor and this is what the walk achieves. Cam Head on Buckden Pike is at 500m and the shoulder on Birks at 350m. At Cam Head the views are best looking south down Wharfedale and over Great Whernside, Kettlewell is best seen from Birks as are the mysteries of Upper Wharfedale. In addition the paths (tracks really) are excellent throughout although the bridge over the River Wharfe is too narrow for anyone not on foot. Finally the village of Starbotton provides a mid walk refreshment at the Fox and Hounds.
Top Mere Road is an ancient green lane, used for many centuries to more sheep up and down the illside.
This walk is one of our ‘Walks without Stiles’. In essence these walks follow bridlepaths (marked by the longer green dashes on a map). Following a bridleway and approaching a boundary (a wall or a fence) there will always be a gate to pass through. On normal footpaths (shorter green dashes) there is every chance that the boundary will be a stile, awkward for many and impossible for a few.
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