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Dalesfolk Traditions in Hubberholme

From JB Priestley's favourite Dales village, along Langstrothdale and back via a limestone terrace.

Distance 5 miles (8km)

Minimum time 2hrs

Ascent/gradient 394ft (120m)

Level of difficulty Medium

Paths Field paths and tracks, steep after Yockenthwaite, 11 stiles

Landscape Streamside paths and limestone terrace

Suggested map aqua3 OS Outdoor Leisure 30 Yorkshire Dales - Northern & Central

Start/finish SD 927782

Dog friendliness Dogs should be on lead, except on section between Yockenthwaite and Cray

Parking Beside river in village, opposite church (not church parking)

Public toilets None on route


© AA Media Limited 2015. © Crown Copyright Licence number 100021153

1 Go through a Dales Way signed gate near the east end of the church, bend left and then take the lower path, signed 'Yockenthwaite'. Walk beside the river for 1¼ miles (2km) through three stiles, a gate and two more stiles. The path eventually rises to another stone stile into Yockenthwaite.

2 Go through the stile and bend left to a wooden gate. Continue through a farm gate by a sign to Deepdale and Beckermonds. Before the track reaches a bridge go right and swing round to a sign to Cray and Hubberholme.

3 Go up the hill and, as the track curves right, continue to follow the Cray and Hubberholme sign. Part-way up the hill go right at a footpath sign through a wooden gate in a fence.

4 Go through a second gate to a footpath sign and ascend the hillside. Go through a gap in a wall by another signpost and follow the obvious path through several gaps in crossing walls. Go over two stone stiles and ascend again to a footbridge between stiles.

5 Cross the bridge and continue through woodland to another stile. Wind round the head of the valley and follow the signpost to Cray. Go over a footbridge. The footpath winds its way down the valley side. Go through a gate and straight ahead across meadow land to a gateway on to a track, and on to a stone barn.

6 Bend to the right beyond the barn, down to a public footpath sign to Stubbing Bridge. Go down the path between stone walls and through a wooden gate and on to the grassy hillside. Pass another footpath sign and continue downhill to meet the stream by a waterfall.

7 Continue along the streamside path through woodland. Go over a wooden stile and on past a barn to a stone stile on to the road. Turn right along the road back to the parking place in Hubberholme.

Literary pilgrims visit Hubberholme to see the George Inn, where JB Priestley could often be found enjoying the local ale, and the churchyard, the last resting place for his ashes, as he requested. He chose an idyllic spot. Set at the foot of Langstrothdale, Hubberholme is a cluster of old farmhouses and cottages surrounding the church. Norman in origin, St Michael's was once flooded so badly that fish were seen swimming in the nave. One vicar of Hubberholme is said to have carelessly baptised a child Amorous instead of Ambrose, a mistake that, once entered in the parish register, couldn't be altered. Amorous Stanley used his memorable name later in life as part of his stock-in-trade as a hawker.

Hubberholme church's best treasures are of wood. The rood loft above the screen is one of only two surviving in Yorkshire, (the other is at Flamborough, far away on the east coast). Once holding figures of Christ on the Cross, St Mary and St John, it dates from 1558, when such examples of Popery were fast going out of fashion. It still retains some of its once-garish colouring of red, gold and black. Master-carver Robert Thompson provided almost all the rest of the furniture in 1934 - look for his mouse trademark on each piece.

Yockenthwaite's name, said to have been derived from an ancient Irish name, Eogan, conjures up images of the ancient past. Norse settlers were here more than 1,000 years ago - and even earlier settlers have left their mark, a Bronze Age stone circle a little further up the valley. The hamlet now consists of a few farm buildings beside the bridge over the Wharfe at the end of Langstrothdale Chase, a Norman hunting ground which used to have its own forest laws and punishments. You walk along a typical Dales limestone terrace to reach Cray, on the road over from Bishopdale joining Wharfedale to Wensleydale. Here is another huddle of farmhouses, around the White Lion Inn. You then follow the Cray Gill downstream, past a series of small cascades. For a more spectacular waterfall, head up the road from the inn a little way to Cray High Bridge.

Back in Hubberholme, the George Inn was once the vicarage. It is the scene each New Year's Day of an ancient auction. It begins with the lighting of a candle, after which the auctioneer asks for bids for the year's tenancy of the 'Poor Pasture', a 16 acre (7.2ha) field behind the inn. All bids have to be completed before the candle burns out. In the days when the George housed the vicar, he ran the auction. Today a local auctioneer takes the role, and a merry time is had by all. The proceeds from the auction go to help the old people of the village.

Where to eat and drink

The George Inn in Hubberholme has an enviable reputation for its food and its real ale, as well as its convivial atmosphere. The same is true of the White Lion at Cray - slightly off the route. Both are typical Dales inns, and worth a detour.

What to look for

A number of barns in the area have been converted to become holiday accommodation bunk barns. An initiative set up by the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority and the Countryside Commission in 1979, the aim is to solve two problems - how to preserve the now-redundant barns that are so vital a part of the Dales landscape, and a lack of simple accommodation for walkers. Also known as stone tents, these bunkhouse barns offer farmers an alternative to letting the barns decay. They add basic amenities for cooking, washing and sleeping (and sometimes extras like comfortable chairs!) and let them to families or groups at a realistic nightly rate. They help to keep the farms viable, and both walkers and farmers benefit in other ways, too; meeting each other helps each to appreciate the needs and hopes of the other. As one farmer's wife said, 'We've made a lot of friends though the barn'.

While you're there

If you've the energy, a walk to the summit of nearby Buckden Pike will reward you with fine views and a memorial to five Polish airmen whose plane crashed there in November 1942. One man survived the crash, following a fox's footprints through the snow down to safety at a farm. The cross he erected has a fox's head set in the base as thanksgiving. Buckden Pike is best climbed up the track called Walden Road from Starbotton.


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