Simon’s Seat via the Valley of Desolation

  • A conservation success
  • A double peak with long reaching views
  • Heather clad moorland

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), which is a shame because the walk through the Valley of Desolation is splendid and 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 and is characteristic of the southern Dales and certainly offers a lovely backdrop to a walk in the correct conditions.

Recommend: Stick to the paths on this walk.

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Simon's Seat 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 078552. There is a car park at Cavendish Pavilion but does not open till 9.30. Parking is restricted in the valley.
Height to Climb: 357 ms (1,142 feet)
Terrain: The route is clear and well signposted. Even from Lion's Leap the route is straightforward.
Eating & Drinking: Enjoy what the Victorian's enjoyed and visit the Cavendish Pavilion. Like the Devonshire Arms a mile away it has class and will serve your tea in china rather than in a mug!
Similar Walks Nearby: Hebden Beck &Grimwith Reservoir
With views over Simon’s Seat
Addingham to Bolton Abbey
Places to Stay:


  1. 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.

  2. 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!

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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 took us 5 hours with a couple of breaks!

  6. Jonathan says:

    You will not get me to agree on a ban on dogs, whilst I take your points I simply do not agree

  7. 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

  8. 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!

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. Jonathan says:

    Sadly yes there is (on or off a lead). the Bolton Abbey Estate should be ashamed

  12. Is there still a total ban of dogs, even on leads on this walk? I’d like to know as I’d love to do this walk and bring my dog along with me.

  13. 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 .

  14. 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.

  15. 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 !

  16. 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?

  17. 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 !?

  18. 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

  19. 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

  20. harold says:

    what is the origin of the name simons seat

  21. 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

  22. 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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