A WALK on to the moors above West Witton, towards the eastern end of Wensleydale, is not only full of historical interest but has some lovely views of the dale. The spring light only enhances the experience.

It is best to make this a morning walk, the views up Wensleydale with the light behind you are spectacular. Park in the village of West Witton, there is a suitable lay-by at its east end. Walk west towards the village and take the road heading south which zig zags steeply up the hillside. Height is gained quickly and after a sharp left turn the views open up over lower Wensleydale. Carry on uphill at Penhill Farm less steeply for a further 400 metres to a bridleway heading west. If you reach the cattle grid you have gone too far.

The bridlepath continues to climb through a series of fields and gates till the 7th gate when a steep final climb brings you on to the open moors. From here the walk is a delight. 300 metres from the gate a footpath on your right leads to Penhill Beacon, a large pile of stones commanding superb views. The beacon was one of a countrywide network of beacons that in times past were designed to warn the country of an imminent invasion. They have been lit twice, once when the Armada was steaming up the Channel and much later when Napoleon had his beady eye on our lands. On a clear day look east and you may see the next beacon on the summit of Roseberry Topping.

From Penhill Beacon return to the bridlepath and follow it over the summit plateau. A short detour will take you to the Trig Point, from here stick to the rim of the plateau and enjoy the wonderful views in to Upper Wensleydale, some of the best views in the Dales. Soon after crossing a track coming in from the south it is time to pick your way downhill through Black Scar, not difficult but quite steep. These rocky scars are a result of the retreating glacier of the last ice age, 18,000 years ago. Join the path under Black Scar and continue downhill. There are some remnants (old tips in particular) of the lead mining industry that dominated life in the dale two and 300 years ago.

Walk over two walls to a junction of paths at a 3rd derelict wall. Take the path to your left and head west, enjoying the views across the River Ure at Aysgarth and the moors above the village of Carperby. The path turns to the south and before long crosses a stile and on to a lane. The lane passes through the remains of a quarry before joining a tarmac road and dropping in to the west end of West Witton. Today West Witton is an example of the attractive villages that pepper the valley floor of Wensleydale.

Fact File:

Distance: Roughly six miles. Height to Climb: 350m (1,150 feet).

Start: SE 063884. There is roadside parking in the linear village but a convenient lay by to the east end is best.

Difficulty: Moderate. Tricky in places with over 1,000 feet of climbing and an initial rocky descent.

Refreshments: The Fox and Hounds is a traditional Dales pub towards the west end of the village. There is also a village store. The route description and sketch map only provide a guide to the walk. You must take out and be able to read a map (O/S Explorer OL30) and in cloudy/misty conditions a compass. You must also wear the correct clothing and footwear for the outdoors.