Yorkshire Dales Walks
Buckden Pike via Buckden Gill
Date: 21st Feb 2015
Distance: 7.7 miles
Ascent: 1718 feet
Time: 4 hours 35 mins
With: On my own
Start Grid Ref: SE011887
A superb walk on to Buckden Pike via the waterfall filled Buckden Gill and then returning via Walden Road, Starbotton and the Dales Way.
Route Summary: Buckden - Buckden Gill - Buckden Lead Mine - Buckden Pike - Memorial Cross - Walden Road - Starbotton - Dales Way - Buckden
Photos: Click on the photos below to enlarge.
Walk Detail: A few months ago, whilst poring over my Ordnance Survey maps, I noticed a small dotted line on the map leading from the village of Buckden up to Buckden Lead Mine via Buckden Gill. Signifying a path, what also intrigued me were the number of waterfalls also marked on the map alongside the path. This walk then was an exploration of Buckden Gill and to see if it was a viable route to the summit.
Exiting the car park at Buckden, through the gate leading to Rakes Wood, I immediately left the main path to take a thinner path up to a stile and on to very quickly reach the entrance to Buckden Gill near to what looked like a small covered reservoir. Immediately below the path was an attractive water shoot, this lovely little scene proved to be just a taster of what was to come.
In fact I don't think it would be too much of an exaggeration to say that this route via Buckden Gill has to be one of the best routes of ascent on to any of the major Dales fells. Indeed one could easily spend a few hours happily contemplating the series of waterfalls, which were as varied as they were beautiful, without ever making it to the top of Buckden Pike.
It should be added that the path, which is generally quite clear, is also quite narrow. A couple of short scrambles are required to follow the path all the way up to the lead mine and after the second scramble a short section of the path is very close to a steep drop so care does need to be taken. While I found it fairly easy going there was that slight element of risk that also made it quite exciting. It is perhaps not a route for people who are nervous of exposed places.
Upon reaching the remains of Buckden Lead Mine I passed the ruins of the old smelting mill and climbed over a large spoil heap to reach the entrance to the mine itself. From there I took the concessionary path (marked in red on the map) up to the summit. It was a cold but quite glorious day and as as I gained height the views began to open out.
This was my fifth visit to Buckden Pike but on the other four visibility had been moderate at best and at worst down to only a few metres. For the first time I was able to truly appreciate the panorama from the summit. This extended from the Holmes Moss transmitter in the Peak District to the south to Mickle Fell in the North Pennines. To the west I could make out the outline of the Lake District while to the east I could see Hambleton Hills and industrial Teeside. Most of the major Dales fells were on view and a short walk to the east of the summit wall provided a fine view down the valley of Walden with the unmistakeable outline of Pen Hill at the far end.
After taking shelter behind the summit wall to eat my lunch I headed south to the war memorial to the Polish airmen who lost their lives here when their plane crashed at this spot in 1942. The memorial cross was erected in 1973 by local villagers with the help of Jozef Fusniak, the sole survivor of the crash. Beyond the memorial is a section which is normally very boggy but on this occasion was largely frozen and the peat was much easier to navigate than usual.
At a junction of paths I joined an old trackway called Walden Road which provided a nicely graded route of descent high above Cam Gill Beck with some good views down in to the latter and also across to Tor Mere Top. Eventually the track led me all the way down to the small village of Starbotton. Here I joined the Dales Way for an easy walk back to Buckden through pleasant pastures with some nice interludes alongside the River Wharfe itself.
This was possibly my favourite walk of the year so far. Even though it was my fifth visit to Buckden Pike it was my first in clear weather and this, combined with the fact that both the route of ascent and descent were new to me, made it seem like I was experiencing the fell for the first time. From the amazing amount of reaction to the set of waterfall pictures I posted on my Facebook page it is clear the route via Buckden Gill is known to others. Yet I knew virtually nothing about it beforehand and in that sense I had discovered somewhere new and really quite wonderful - it is a feeling hard to beat.