The two villages of Burnsall and Hebden book mark probably the most attractive section of the River Wharfe. The walking is easy, the interest sustained. However the walk is improved by taking in the lovely Hebden Beck and the views across Wharfedale from Hartlington Raikes.
Burnsall is a delightful village but can become very busy. The wide grasslands around the river attract a lot of visitors in the summer months or good weather weekends. It can become a quintessential English scene, children playing in the river, parents picnicking on the shores. The village itself is of Viking origin, probably a staging post on the wide sweep of the river, with various artifacts still housed in the church. The terrace of the Red Lion pub adds to its appeal.
The walk starts along a wide accessible path which sticks close to the river for 1 mile before arriving at a footbridge and stepping stones. The equally lovely village of Hebden lies above the opposite bank. From the cafe return via the path next to Hebden Beck, again very pleasant and a little quieter than the main riverside.
However for much more peace and, most importantly, the wonderful views across this part of Wharfedale climb the near 500 feet to Hartlington Raikes. With the bleak moors of the Bolton Abbey estate appearing to the south the perfect U shaped twists and bends of Wharfedale are revealed. It is a geographer’s dream and you can almost picture the glacier sweeping down the dale 15,000 years ago. For those not keen on the climb however a quiet lane contours the north side of the Wharfe, offering its own pleasant views and easy walking.
It would be remiss of me not to mention the Old School Tea Room at Hebden, a perfect half way break on the Burnsall Riverside walk.
For those climbing to the Raikes there is not an obvious path on the ground so you will need to be careful to stick to the route of the Right of Way. In fact it is easy to just follow the farm tracks which would be incorrect. However within the two large fields above Rainlands Farm the path you need ends in the far corner where, because it is a Right of Way, there will be a stile. Even if you miss the exact route of the path just follow the line of the wall to the corner. This is called following a ‘handrail’.
We used to go here all the time when I was a kid! I can’t wait to give this walk a go, thanks.
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