Kettlewell is a sleepy little village with a remote rolling road bringing in visitors. With quaint stone houses jam-packed in along the river it’s unbelievably picturesque and no surprise that it’s a popular destination for tourists.
We’ve done this walk twice now – it’s turning into a favourite – once in the heat of summer and once on a much cooler, soggier winter’s day. Both days have been beautiful.
Our walk is a circular one, climbing sharply out of Kettlewell, leaving the village far below as we ascend the old road into the hills. The loose rolling stone underfoot can make the initial climb a little more arduous than you’d like what with your legs already being shocked from the sudden change in gradient.
The loose stone underfoot soon turns to a broad grassy track and the climb starts to ease off. The track and surrounding fields are lined with crumbling dry stonewall, capturing in one scene the perfection of a Yorkshire view. The lines of the walls and the peculiar shapes of the fields lead the eyes miles in all directions across the landscape, giving it shape, form and a hardy character.
The route is really very simple – you just go straight, following the path through two sets of gates before it swings right back on its self when you see the signpost for Starbotton. Of course, it goes without saying that you take a map and compass with you should you set out to try this for yourself.
The climb done, it’s a gentle descent at first. Keep your eye out for Curlews over summer and keep dogs on leads if you come across any. We had the delight of seeing them when we first set foot on this path back in June and their calls were haunting, echoing through the evening air.
The grassy track soon starts to take a sharper turn downhill and walking poles would be a blessing on the knees if you think to take them. The ground is level and the walking easy despite the descent. Remember to look up and around at the views. The track drops down into the sleepy village of Starbotton and if you have time, you must stop at the pub. They’re dog friendly inside but have a great seating area out front for days like last summer, when the hay is being cut in the fields around you, the sun is soft and a pint goes down very well as the last rays shine over your face.
From there, it’s a flat romp back to the car. Following the river, you go past fields of wildflower, the walls dashing away up onto the hill in the distance and old stone hay barns sitting in odd places within their lines.
It’s a truly pleasant walk and the drive home through Pateley Bridge is a beautiful one at sunset, too.