Yorkshire’s Best Hike for escaping the crowds

Do you enjoy escaping the crowds whilst you hike? Do you prefer quieter walks? There are so many fantastic walks in Yorkshire to try. Yet some paths such as the one to Malham Cove is spectacular yet busy. Yet this impressive geographical feature also attracts impressed crowds. Luckily the Yorkshire Dales National Park is large enough that you can always find an incredible walk in nature without masses of other hikers. We found a perfect and relatively unknown hike in Wharfedale. Continue reading to find out about Yorkshire’s best hike for escaping the crowd.

One May bank holiday weekend my partner and I were looking for a spectacular Yorkshire Dales walk without the crowds. Our search took us to Grassington. This hike is in the heart of the Dales. The varied hike takes hikers on paths alongside deep blue rivers, through shady woods, scrambles through limestone gorges and up onto moorland to spectacular rocky plateaus. This is a truly spectacular and varied hike. best of all, we had it mostly to ourselves!

We were very ill prepared with no map, no sun cream and not enough water. Yet we were aided by friendly hikers and hospitable locals. This is a story about our fantastic adventurous hike from Grassington to Conistone Dib in Wharfedale. There is also a map at the bottom of the post outlining this almost crowd-free route.

Arriving in Grassington

Grassington Bridge Yorkshire Dales Bucket List

After an eventful start to our adventure in the Yorkshire Dales, my partner dropped his car keys down a drain but thankfully managed to receive them again, we had arrived in the small village of Grassington.

The midday sun was beating down on this small Yorkshire village. I regretted that we hadn’t managed to find sun cream as none of the little shops in the Dales were selling sun cream. Oh well, my little blue cap would have to do.

Grassington Bridge and the River Wharfe

This Yorkshire Dales hike starts by a beautiful piece of architecture. I spied a gorgeous brick bridge down the hill. The Grassington bridge spans over the river Wharfe whose blue waters were glistening in the sunlight and gurgling merrily. We walked down to the river bank and started our walk here.

Our walk would start in Grassington, lead us to Conistone where we would find the Conistone Dib and head out onto Moorland before returning to Grassington. Yet out in the countryside, next to the river Wharfe there was no signal for internet. We were off-grid. After a few grumblings from me as to why Alex had not downloaded beforehand, I soon forgot my anger and we simply followed the picturesque River Wharfe upstream. Surely this was the way to the Conistone Dib.

Alex and I stuck close to the river as we made our way northwards. We thoroughly enjoyed our pleasant surroundings and the gentle sound of running water. I love walking by water. There are lots of beautiful rivers in Yorkshire and some beautiful waterfalls. Along the water we strolled and over green fields we rambled, passing a few dog walkers.

As we were not sure as to whether we were heading in the right direction, I stopped an elderly couple and asked whether this was the route to Conistone. They were equipped in walking gear and owned walking poles. They both looked knowledgeable. In a wonderfully broad Yorkshire accent the elderly gentleman looked worried and exclaimed ‘ooh ‘tis a fair way to Conistone!’. He began to describe the route and his wife kept saying it was half way to Kettlewell. None of these landmarks he mention meant anything to me. I had never heard of Kettlewell before! Alex, as a local, however knew that Kettlewell lay further upstream the river Wharfe and was indeed beyond Conistone. We were heading roughly in the right direction.

We passed through a grove of pink blossoms. The branches adorned with pink blossoms created a beautiful arched passage over a stretch of our path. Oh, Yorkshire in spring is truly beautiful.

After the blossom grove, I saw some other walkers. Eager to find out if we needed to leave the river to reach Conistone I inquired whether they knew which way the village was. Alas they did not know. In fact, I believe they were more lost than us! Their small old dog looked worn out from the heat. The woman said, ‘aren’t we staying in Conistone?’ to which the man replied ‘no, we are staying in Grassington!’. They told us they had no idea where they were.

What was strange is that there were many sign posts on this route, but they all just said ‘public footpath’. Whilst it is nice to know that we were on a public footpath, would it take much more work to state which direction the footpaths are heading in?

A couple with a puppy sat by the river. In one final attempt to discover our route I asked them where Conistone is. The gentleman, holding back his excited pup stated. “No, I don’t.” I must have looked sad so in a final attempt to help us he offered ‘I have a map though’. I was ecstatic! I have a weird obsession with maps. Grateful I walked down the grass bank and examined the map. Whilst I worked out route out Alex stroked the happy puppy who loved the attention he was receiving from this friendly stranger.

Happy that I knew our rough direction now, then cursing myself for not taking a photo of the map, we made it to the small hamlet of Conistone. Our way passed through Grass woods. We were very grateful for this small rest bite from the heat of the sun as we were shaded by arbors of leaves above us. After the woods, we passed dozens of sheep farms. We walked through a field full of lambs hiding behind their protective mothers. Some were bathing in the sun and others had found a shady spot to dwell in.

Lunch in Conistone

We arrived in Conistone and ate our lunch on a bench. I had packed some sandwiches and Alex had added some crisps and biscuits to our little picnic. The only thing we had not packed enough of was water. We were parched. Looking around the hamlet there did not appear to be a shop. I asked a farmer whether there was somewhere to buy water. He told us the closest shop was “o’ver river” in Kinsley. It was half a mile in the wrong direction.

Very cheekily, I approached a neighbour and asked if he could fill our water bottle. He smiled and filled it. The kind man asked how far we were going, as if worried we would be a liability to rescue teams due to poor preparation. Alex assured him we were just going to the Conistone Dib and the man pointed us in the right direction to the start of the path for the Dib.

We thanked him and made our way to the Conistone Dib.

Conistone Dib

Suitably rehydrated we entered the dib. Conistone Dib is a dry limestone gorge. We walked up the stony steps of an ancient waterfall. It was hard to imagine rushing water running over them now.

We then entered the narrowest part of the Dib, Gurling Trough. The gravel path was walled by stony cliffs on either side.

It becomes even narrower as the path is only wide enough for one person at a time. It is a little slippery, so I would advise caution in wetter weather. We passed an elderly couple struggling on this section. The lady exclaimed that she would not have come this way had she known about the scramble! I helped her by taking her rucksack whilst her husband assisted her on their descent. Alex offered to help them through the next section, but they declined. It is most definitely easier to walk up than walk down the Conistone Dib!

We saw climbers, some young children, making the most of the pleasant weather on the small cliffs. As we walked through the valley they became smaller until we were higher than them. Alex and I clambered to the top of the trail, determined that we would then start heading back to Grassington. Yet I spotted something of interest in the distance.

As we climbed to the highest point of our hike, we approached the grand Pennine way. One day I am sure we will hike the entire 268 miles. What was nice about reaching the route is that we were treated to sign posts with actual directions on them! Grassington was 3 miles to the south. We should have started walking back yet alas my curiosity got the better of me. I spotted an interesting ridge on the hill top.

I wanted to explore more but reassured Alex he did not need to climb to the top with me. Upwards I wondered to the light grey rocks.

What awaited me at the top was incredible.

As I clambered over the rocks and onto the ridge I could see a vast area of limestone pavement. The plateau was covered in limestone outcrops. Only a lone tree had stubbornly made this inhospitable place its permanent home. The landscape looked otherworldly. I ran turned around and started waving frantically at Alex. “ALEX” I screamed, knowing the wind probably was still much louder than my voice. “You HAVE to come up here!” Alex sighed slightly that he know needed to climb the ridge. Yet I did not feel guilty as I knew he would love it up here.

Pictures say a thousand words and it was wonderfully beautiful by the limestone pavement.

I believe it was also the manner in which we found the limestone pavement landscape. It was our little secret. A few other hikers passed on the Pennine way but did not spot us or venture up to the ridge. We had this incredible place to ourselves.

We found a little grassy patch and after taking many photos we lay in the sunshine. From our grassy throne we surveyed the landscape. Hard to believe that it was a bank holiday weekend, one of the busiest times of year for national parks in the UK, as there were few others in this part of the Dales. This truly was Yorkshire’s best hike for avoiding the crowds.

For more crowd-free hike inspiration in Yorkshire, check out this post about the Wild Boar Fell car-free hike. It is the 4th highest point in Yorkshire but does not receive anywhere near as many visitors compared to Whernside and Ingleborough!

As my legs felt on fire from the unusually strong May sun, we knew it was time to leave. Begrudgingly Alex stretched and stood up from his grass bed. We slowly started the long walk back to Grassington. With huge smiles on our faces, despite being completely burnt we were very content.

We had very much enjoyed such a wonderfully varied walk. Our walk had started by the river, taken us under blossom groves, through shady woods, over sheep-filled fields, up a limestone gorge, through a spectacular valley and eventually onto otherworldly limestone paving. I love walks that are so varied! Whilst this is a full day hike it is not particularly difficult (if you bring enough water unlike us…) We would both thoroughly recommend this fantastic walk. The map below outlines our route.

This hike in Wharfedale is just one of 50 ultimate things to do in Yorkshire.

For a slightly longer version of this hike which incorporates the site of Britain’s’ deadliest caving disaster see this the Walking English Man’s guide to this area.

Your thoughts!

Yorkshire is full of spectacular hike such as Roseberry Topping, the 3 Peaks challenge. Yet the hike from Grassington to Conistone Dib was perfect for escaping the crowds.

What incredible hikes have you done without the crowds? Let us know in the comments below!

Yorkshire\'s best hike for escaping the crowds! Check out this crowd-free hike which starts in Grassington in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales national park. This wonderfully varied hike takes visitors along the river Wharfe, up through Conistone Dip, along moorland by otherworldy geographical features. #yorkshire #yorkshiredales #yorkshirehike

8 Replies to “Yorkshire’s Best Hike for escaping the crowds”

  1. That looks like a fabulous walk. Really beautiful scenery.

  2. Kathryn Burrington says: Reply

    Looks like a fabulous walk. Lovely photos and that limestone pavement is fabulous. I’ve never seen anything like it. Hopefully, I’ll make it there myself one day.

  3. What a picturesque area! It looks like the perfect place to hike around.

  4. There is something about a long walk that really reset your mind and body. This looks like a lovely place to do that. I love a beautiful, old bridge! We will have to add this to our list when we are able to make to that part of the country someday.

  5. Renata - www.byemyself.com says: Reply

    This scenery looks so serene – like no human being had been there before. I love the mixture of the walks over the fields and the harder, climbing parts.

  6. I honestly never expected scenery like this from Yorkshire! Looks like a gorgeous place so will definitely bear it in mind when I next go hiking up north. The Conistone Dib, in particular, is something I’d love to see.

  7. Looks like you had tremendous weather for a May weekend. Sounds a delightful place to go walking!

  8. It looks really pretty. I am sure my neighboring introvert-Finns would love to go for such a walk. I live in such a calm area though, that for vacation I go to larger cities 🙂

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