Jonathan Smith runs Where2walk, a walking company in the Yorkshire Dales. Jonathan has written his own book, the Dales 30 which details the highest mountains in the Dales. He also runs one-day navigation courses for beginners and intermediates. Join his Learn a Skill, Climb a Hill weekends in the Dales. To find out more details on any of the above visit his website,

FOR my first New Year walk I have not moved far. My home village of Long Preston is a perfect base for an interesting walk in lovely countryside. You will hardly see a soul.

The village of Long Preston lies astride the A65 between Skipton and Settle and is a quiet but interesting village. St Mary's Church and large graveyard are certainly worth a visit. There is no official parking in the village but plenty is available near the Maypole pub. From here head away from the A65, past the idyllic small school on your right and along a tarmacked lane heading just north of east. The tarmac runs out at a farm to your left but carry on to cross Long Preston beck via a small footbridge. Turn left and head alongside the river (the strange circular wall above is the Long Preston reservoir!) through fields of sheep for nearly ½ a mile. Where the land opens up cross a footbridge and start to veer away from the river, through a kissing gate and on to a footpath which climbs steadily north east for over half a mile.

After two gates, a broken wall the path follows the stream on your right as it bends left. The path crosses the stream over some rough stepping stones and arrives on Langber Lane. Turn left on to the lane and follow this for 2 miles. There is a considerable amount of tree planting to the left as you walk, this is part of the efforts to bring more mixed woodland to the Yorkshire Dales. Not only is it natural and attractive but trees help retain water in the soils and reduce flooding further down the valleys by regulating water flow after heavy rains. We always get the blame for flooding in York and other cities! The newly planted mixed woodland becomes more traditional forestry as you approach the main road from Settle to Malham.

On meeting the main road turn left and almost immediately the road crosses a steep sided stream. After crossing the bridge turn left and a small wooded path leads to Scaleber Force. This attractive series of waterfalls are some of the most beautiful in the Dales, take care on the slippy paths but any effort is definitely worth it. A great spot. Return to the road and follow it for just over a quarter of a mile to a lane on the left. Follow this lane with dry stone walls on either side for half a mile till it emerges high above Settle, meeting the old road from Settle to Long Preston.

Turn left and follow the ‘old road’, unsuitable for anything but farm vehicles over to Long Preston. The return route is nearly 3 miles but full of interest. The views are particularly impressive. To the right Ribblesdale and the Forest of Bowland are laid out with the distinctive shape of Pendle Hill in the distance, whilst to your left the moors stretch out for miles. The other distinctive hill to your left is Rye Loaf, rarely visited. For the final mile the lane drops steadily down towards Long Preston, arriving at Maypole Green and next to the Maypole pub. The maypole is used for Mayday dancing once a year by the children of the school, a lovely tradition and a reflection of this often missed but always enjoyed village.

Fact File:

Distance: Roughly eight miles

Height to Climb: 280m (920 feet).

Start: SD 834583. There is parking around the village green but please be considerate.

Difficulty: Moderate. It is quite a long walk but mainly on excellent tracks or lanes so the miles do go quickly.

Refreshments: Two excellent pubs in the village, the Maypole Inn and the Boars Head.