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The Excitement of Steppingstones in the glorious Yorkshire Dales


A few weeks ago Geoff, my husband, and I did a short walk, nearly three miles, from Cover Bridge along the river bank in the direction of Middleham in Wensleydale in the Yorkshire Dales. The walk I’ll recount below. The sole purpose of this was to go over the steppingstones. As you know there had been no rain for weeks on end and I knew we would be safe crossing the River Cover. I’m not very good with steppingstones as you might be beginning to realise. But I can’t believe I’ve never really noticed this crossing before having been past many a time but anyway………. So afterwards thinking on these lines thought it might be a nice project for us to slowly experience as many different steppingstone crossings as we could as the summer unfolds. Some we know about but I’m sure there are many we are completely unaware of which may take a little searching out which will be a lovely challenge and there’s no hurry, they’ll still be there. As long as the rivers and becks stay low we’ll be fine!

On a really hot day armed with water and snacks and the most important map as part of the route we had never ventured on before, we parked opposite the Cover Bridge Inn in the car park, plenty of space there, and took the footpath to the right of the pub and bungalow. Through the stile and along the riverbank, so pretty on there. A family were swimming at a bend in the river, there were wildflowers in drifts, the sun dappled through the trees and fish were just visible in the water below. Continue to follow the path until you come to Straight Lane, a junction of signposts with Straight Lane leading north and to Middleham. Through the stile and hey presto the steppingstones are just there! Having taken photos of each other and gone backwards and forwards a few times, what are we like, we continued to East Witton. Careful over the stones, through stile upwards a little and then turn east and you will see two stiles in the fence, take the one up the hill to the right of the other. Through here and turn right, continue to climb gently. Follow the path along the fence side, over a little bridge, and head for the wood in near distance. There are stiles marking the way, continue on until you come out on the road. *Turn left here and follow the road a few yards into East Witton. Keep going down the village, by all means stop for a break and enjoy the beauty of the village, convenient benches to rest upon. On the left you will see a chapel and a finger post off to the north. Through here and down the fields. When you get to a farm building keep your wits about you as to where the path is. It seems to change there every time I go but it was through a new gate this time. Down hill and through another gate, do not venture to the road even though it might look like the way, head for the bridge, keep that in your sights and you should be okay. Once at the bridge and river there is a stile just off to the right, through here, pass through the hand gate and you’re on the road. Turn left and go carefully over the road bridge and back to the car park.

You can easily make this into a longer walk, about six miles, by walking past the steppingstones and through the wood and by the riverside, north along the Six Dales Trail for a very short while, then continue west until you reach Hullo Bridge, over the bridge, turn east and gradually leave the river. Carefully follow the footpath through the fields until you reach the road at the west side of East Witton*. It isn't very well signposted along here so be sure to keep an eye on the map.

Hope you enjoy and perhaps like us would like to seek out more rocky crossings in Wensleydale at least! Take care, take your map always, wear appropriate clothing and footwear and the obligatory water and snacks. Watch our blog for more stoney suggestions as we go along. Fingers crossed!

Country Hideaways

Written By Nadine Bell

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