Where is this walk?

Simon’s Seat via the Valley of Desolation

June 19, 2018

The scenery on Simon’s Seat is lovely. Granite boulders spring from the surrounding heather moor with the path network making for quick walking. The Valley of Desolation is also an attractive approach.

The Walk

I have to admit to feeling a little like one of the Duke’s tenants as I climbed Simon’s Seat. There are so many rules and signposts I felt I was being watched at all times and woe betide if I stepped off the designated path. The total ban on dogs is completely unnecessary and spoiled the enjoyment of the walk for me (along with many others). This is a shame because the walk through the Valley of Desolation is splendid. In addition the peaks of Simon’s Seat and Lord’s Seat are great little outcrops of coarse sandstone offering fun and frolics for all.

The valley of Desolation is named after a great storm in 1826 and in fact it is a beautiful valley, improved yet further by the planting of upwards of 8000 trees recently in an attempt to recreate the forests of old. The heather clad hillside is a twin of Embsay Moor to the west. Both are characteristic of the southern Dales and certainly offers a lovely backdrop to a walk in the correct conditions.


Enjoy the granite boulders on the summit area for a picnic, particularly in good weather where the views are excellent.

Unfortunately Dogs are banned on the mountain and the Valley of Desolation.

Navigation Tips on Simon’s Seat

The route from main path through the Valley of Desolation is a permissive path. It is marked orange on the maps and is open with permission of the land owner. The land owner can close it when he wants and in this instance does.

Further up the path the route enters access land and is simply a path on the ground but because it is in access land should remain open and in theory you can wander anywhere. The paths are very good so it is easiest to stick to them. Unfortunately the landowner closes the whole area for his own pleasure at times. Dogs are permanently banned….

  • Peter says:

    Much of this route is not public footpath nor CROW land – i.e there is no ‘right to roam’. It is permissive path – a path that the landowners have decided to let the public use through their own generosity. As they don’t have to let anyone onto these parts of their land at all, they are entitled to make whatever rules they like.

    I am grateful that they let me walk on their property rather than resentful that they make that gift subject to conditions.

    • Jonathan says:

      Hi Peter, I assume you are not a dog owner. Do forgive me but I am not prepared to doff my cap to someone who, in essence, is banning roughly 1/3 of people (dog owners) from some of the finest land/walks and views in the Yorkshire Dales.
      There is some access to CROW land near Storiths I believe but again, I would not know.

  • Adam Canmore says:

    Lovely walk. Always done it with my dog who is kept on a lead. I always try to be respectful of those who aren’t as fond of dogs as I am. However, I don’t plan on leaving him at home so rich landowners can shoot grouse out of the sky.

  • Claire says:

    can children please be banned as they make a lot of noise and mess!

  • Sam says:

    Banning dogs is nuts. Dogs cause less damage than humans.

    I went up to Simons Seat with my dog last year. I encountered no problems. I know, everyone is screaming you are not allowedm to, but until my dog can read she will go where I go.
    To be honest humans cause more damage than dogs, when I see the amount of rubbish littering the moor with plastic bottles and paper.

    The signs would be better off banning children and mother in Laws.

    • Mark says:

      Well said they should be allowed as long as on a lead and litter is far more unsightly and a danger to wildlife

  • Jim Holt says:

    We have walked many such paths where dogs are permitted and they are spoilt by dog mess or the smell of it. The fact is, some owners will not remove their dogs excrement and some will have the dog on a lead that is too long. This spoils the walk for everyone. The fact that dogs aren’t allowed makes this walk more appealing. There are thousands of others that do allow dogs.

    • Jonathan says:

      Dogs are banned on the Valley of Desolation and above on Simon’s Seat. It is not right to ban dogs and therefore dog owners from an area just because some people do not like dogs. It would be like suggesting a ban on Sunderland fans !!!

  • Jawstpassing says:

    Brilliant idea to ban dogs! maybe things would be different if everyone respected countryside and farmland. Most people wouldn’t let there children run around winding up and killing animals. Dog poo on grazing land can cause serious diseases in sheep and other livestock. Unfortunately many people don’t understand the reasons why dogs are not allowed.

    • Jonathan says:

      Dogs are banned on Barden Fell/Simons Seat not the lowland paths. The issue has nothing to do with dog poo or sheep worrying, the total ban on dogs and therefore people with a dog is due to the estate wishing to allow the landowner and guests to shoot birds. That is their privilege but they appear to have utilized a loophole in the Crow Right to Roam act which is a shame. Dogs under control should be allowed.

  • Patrick says:

    Nice walk, crazy policy of no dogs. People cause more damage to the countryside (Litter) than dogs.

  • Sam says:

    I have done this walk recently with my dog. Yes I saw the signs (Dogs Verboten) but she will stay to heal when asked and causes probably a lot less damage than some walkers (concerning litter). I met several people on the walk and no one said anything other than the customary hello.

    In life you have undisciplined dogs and also undisciplined people. It would be better to put up signs saying you are responsible for your actions and anyone (including animals) with you.

    What next? signs saying No Mother in Laws ?

  • Sue says:

    I would love to do the wAlk unfortunately I can’t as dogs are not allowed. I walk and my dog is always on leash. Ironically land owners bar dogs and it stops walkers. Not all dog owners are irresponsible. As for the grouse do the landowners shoot them ?

  • Pete says:

    My wife and I MUST do this walk, wonderful NO DOGS – how refreshing!!!!!
    When will dog owners realises not everyone shares their passion for their pampered pets. Surely there should be places where people can walk WITHOUT the four legged fiends!

    • Jonathan says:

      It is an opinion.. but the Dales are so empty the chances are you will never see people let alone dogs. The issue occurs when landowners think that thy can do what they will with ‘Access Land’ and soon walkers with or without dogs will be barred.

  • Gary says:

    We have never done this walk as we take our dogs with us when walking. We have done plenty of walking over grouse moors elsewhere in the dales with no problems. I find it hard to stomach an argument that seeks to justify protecting birds so that they can then be blown to pieces for fun! Moors will not be lost without grouse shooting as can be seen by the vast areas that exist without this sport (?) I hope someday that I will be allowed to enjoy Simons Seat but I doubt it.

  • Caroline Winskill says:

    For my 55th birthday treat my partner and I decided to walk up to Simon’s Seat having followed instructions in the September issue of the ‘Dalesman’. The walk took us from Bardon Bridge to the Cavendish Pavilion tea rooms and then up the Valley of Desolation to Simon’s Seat. It was a fabulous walk although a very warm and humid day, We found several lovely spots to stop and admire the views and took off our boots and paddled in a stream to cool down. There were plenty of grouse about and we had fortuitously chosen a non shooting day as the days before and after the moors are closed for the Estate shooting of grouse. Now I am not a supporter of the shoot but completely understand why dogs are forbidden on this particular moor and we delighted in seeing the birds in their habitat and close up and personal (so to speak). I have hens at home and have repeatedly lost hens to walkers dogs who have playfully or savagely killed my hens and the owners were mildly apologetic in most cases (one bought me a bottle of wine when his dog killed my favourite pet hen Charlie Brown…didn’t help!) Dogs will be dogs and some can’t be trusted when tempted with easy prey. Anyway..would highly recommend this walk..it took us 5 hours with a couple of breaks!

    • Jonathan says:

      Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and we are absolutely agreed it is a good walk. However large parts of the walking community are in effect banned from this walk and if you follow your argument through dogs would be banned on any land which has any wildlife. This is not an anti shooting opinion but to ban anyone with dogs is the proverbial sledgehammer / nail situation.

  • Alec says:

    We went yesterday(5th June)Saw sheep with their lambs, hence the salt-lick trays mentioned by LHudson.
    Saw no cattle on the permissive path. Strictly no dogs (It’s a managed Grouse Moor)
    Saw many Red Grouse chicks crossing the footpath on the moors, an awesome but very rare sight nowadays.
    Without management of the Heather moors (Red Grouse need three stages of Heather development to survive) there would be no Moors for us to enjoy and Red and Black Grouse would be seen or heard no more. Ground-nesting birds are easily disturbed and will desert their nest at the sight of a dog, they may not return to that part of the moor for some considerable time.
    Ewes may abort their lambs at the sight of a dog also, even where no chasing has occurred.
    Take care. Have consideration, enjoy

  • Nikki says:

    We did the valley of desolation via the waterfall to Simons Seat this Sunday, it was brilliant, slightly hard going on the incline if you are a little unfit and not used to walking like me. But it was a wonderful view and really worthwhile. You can take dogs into the estate on Leads but you can’t take them on certain walks.
    Hope you enjoy your walk!

  • CFM says:

    The paths here are permissive, not public rights of way (orange dashed lines on an OS map, not green). Which is why they get to say no dogs and might have bulls in the fields: technically they don’t have to let anyone in there at all.

    • Jonathan says:

      Technically no but that does not mean we should be grateful to these landowners. Its safe to say that walkers bring plenty in to the estates hands and to restrict walkers as they do is in my opinion churlish and uneccessary. Not yet ready to doff my cap in gratitude.

  • LHudson says:

    Walked to Simons seat this past Saturday, thoroughly enjoyed it. Can anyone tell me what is in the trays that we spotted at the sides of the path on our descent ? They resemble cat litter trays .

  • CeeDee says:

    We were planning to do the Simons Seat/Valley of Desolation Route.
    Having to think again !!…Don’t fancy been chased by cattle…
    Thanks for the info..Sounds like a lovely walk spoiled again
    because of cattle…When will they think about protecting the walkers !
    All we want to do, is cause no trouble and get out in the Fresh Air !

    • Jonathan says:

      I am not sure they are still there but it is a little irritating. The law says that with ‘certain types of bulls’ they should not be allowed on a public footpath but a bull is a bull to me. It can happen anywhere so I would give it a go.

  • Chris says:

    Attempted to go to the Valley of Desolation and then on to Simon’s Seat, but we were in the field in the picture above and we were chased by a herd of cattle some of which were bulls! While myself and my partner found it funny, my ten year old daughter was terrified!!! Why would they put bulls in a field with a public footpath?

  • clareM says:

    Fantastic site and information – thank you, but just wondering whether we could get advice on admittance to dogs – i.e., on lead , off lead …. allowed, as I have a feeling on some of the Chatsworth Estates land you aren’t allowed to take dogs at all !?

  • harold says:

    Hi Jonathan
    I have just heard of another explanation ie a shepherd found a baby on the top of the hill and called him Simon , descendents of the child are reputed to be still living in Wharfdale

  • harold says:

    what is the origin of the name simons seat

    • Jonathan says:

      It is the rocky outcrop in the “artistic licence” shape of a seat which forms the summit of Bardon Hill. The name of Simon is allegedly from a local gentleman who climbed the hill daily in the 19th century, resting on the summit. Do let me know of any other possibilities

  • Gary says:

    Went there today bank holiday monday, was a splendid walk pity at the top i did not know which route to take, but i loved the morning. thankyou

  • K. Miller says:

    Great Website, first one I’ve been able to find that ticks all the boxes! It is now in my favorites!

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