Castle Bolton from Aysgarth.

Start. Aysgarth Fall.

Route. Aysgarth Falls - Freeholders Wood - Middle Force - Lower Force - St Josephs Wood - Hollins House - Kelder Well - Thoresby Lane - Low Thoresby - Castle Bolton - Belden Beck - West Bolton - East End Farm - Carperby - Low Lane - Freeholders Wood - Aysgarth Falls.

Notes. Today was to be a slight variation on a walk we did with friends way back in 2006, back then the day was miserable, it drizzled all day, distant views covered a couple of fields, today turned out to be exactly the opposite, the sun was shining, the heat was stifling, a haze hung over the valley. We debated whether it was wise to venture out in such temperatures, curiosity got the best of us as you've guessed, or I wouldn't be writing this. This hot and sweaty walk visited two of the Dales most popular attractions, Aysgarth Falls and the impressive 13th century Castle Bolton, our boots trod softly in ancient woodland, across medieval field systems, along historic highways passing long dead villages in a vain attempt to find the afternoon breeze.

We parked in the National Park Centre car park at Aysgarth Falls, to avoid the crowds we steered clear of the upper falls which are undoubtedly the best. Descending the road we entered Freeholders Wood, named by a small group of residents from Carperby who had the right of estovers, the rights to coppice the wood and use it for firewood, estovers ceased over 50 years ago, the wood is definitely ready for a trim. Well trod paths conveyed us and many others to Middle Force then on to Lower Force, from Lower Force we left the crowds, our route was the quiet. Heading through ancient meadows on paths way-marked Bolton Castle, we strolled along the ancient highway known as Thoresby Lane, lined with hazel, holly, blackthorn and wild roses, at the end of the lane we passed through the tiny hamlet of Low Thoresby, here we entered the pastures again. Striding through long narrow meadows alive with summer blooms we soon stepped onto the main road, what followed was a short hot climb over tarmac, almost eaten alive by flies before we reached Bolton Castle, with relief we flopped onto the village green, time to re-hydrate and have lunch. Obviously used to mugging tourists we were forced to share our sandwiches with the local hen population.

Our return route passed behind Castle Bolton, here a finger-post directed us to Aysgarth Falls, we followed this path through cow pastures and the odd farm yard, yellow arrows kept us on track. Across the narrow valley of Beldon Beck we panted, through West Bolton we sweated, the path skirted the edge of West Bolton Plantation where a welcoming sign pointed the way to Carperby, every step of the way the valley road got closer but the temperature higher, after a long hot descent we wearily stepped onto tarmac to the east of Carperby, the heat had taken it's toll, undignified we stumbled into the bar of The Wheatsheafe Hotel. Sufficiently refreshed we wandered through the village, a hundred yards down the road another finger-post beckoned us to Aysgarth. Through yet more fields we strolled before entering Freeholders Wood for the second time, a short walk along woodland paths saw us step onto the main road a hundred yards from the car park.

view route map.


Aysgarth Falls comprises of three cascades spread over one mile of the River Ure just east of Aysgarth village, this fine fall is Middle Force a 16ft drop a few hundred yards from the car park.

Middle Force seen over the viewing platform.

Further down stream Lower Force a wonderful staircase dropping 24ft.

Near Hollins House looking to Penhill across Wensleydale.

Viewing West Bolton Moor from the meadows behind Hollins House.

Our first view to Castle Bolton, with Redmire Moor to the right.

Sue blazes a trail along Thoresby Lane.

The impressive southern facade of Castle Bolton.

One of Wensleydales better known hills, Penhill as seen from Castle Bolton.

Castle Bolton as seen from the west.

Carperby seen from the fields above Low Lane.

Whilst wandering through hay meadows and cow pastures it's easy to forget your passing through a working environment.

Penhill seen over Freeholders Wood.

Wensleydales northern skyline.

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