LITTONDALE and Langstrothdale are not names that immediately spring to mind when a conversation turns to the best walking in the Dales. However they should.

They are two side dales to the well-known Upper Wharfedale and offer some lovely walking in quiet countryside.

It is also a real taste of ‘working Dales’ without some of the lesser attractive features of tourism.

I like to start the walk in the small village of Litton, partly because it is an attractive village but mainly because it has a pleasant pub, the Queens Arms.

Start by crossing the river and taking the 2 mile riverside walk along the River Skirfare. The path does not keep to the river but on marginally higher ground to the west, this avoids any wet ground and improves the views.

The views mainly consist of a peaceful scene, some lovely Dales barns and an impressive U shaped valley. It is hard to imagine that it was only 50,000 years ago that large glaciers filled this dale and others around.

The tiny hamlet of Halton Gill is a delight but little more than an extended farm and barns. One treat may be a self-service coffee/tea making facility…cannot be relied upon but a pleasant surprise when it is available.

From Halton Gill a farm track zig zags steeply up the fellside for nearly 1,000 feet. The effort is worth it though, with dramatic views opening up over the higher fells of the Dales. A quick detour to the trig point at Horse Head brings Fountain Fell and Penyghent in to view towards the south and Wether Hill and Great Knoutberry further north.

The track is excellent as it descends steeply in to Langstrothdale and the hamlet of Yockenthwaite. One of the delights of Langstothdale is the names of the hamlets that habit the dale floor; Beckermonds, Raisgill and Hubberholme all join Yockenthwaite to give Langstrothdale its unique character. Yockenthwaite Farm is a fine example of hill farmers who have diversified, the farm now producing healthy breakfast cereals for a wider market.

The route joins the Dales Way at Yockenthwaite, travels through Hubberholme for 2 miles before a farm track heads south to signify the start of the second climb of the day. The bridleway (initially a farm track but soon a footpath) climbs steeply for 1,000 feet, crossing the shoulder of Birks, before dropping back down to Litton. Again the views are superb and the path good. By this stage however it will have been a long day and the thought of a fine pint in the Queens Arms in Litton may be a greater incentive than the changing views.

All in all this is one of my favourite days in the Dales.

Be Prepared:

The route description and sketch map only provide a guide to the walk.

You must take out and be able to read a map and in cloudy/misty conditions a compass. You must also wear the correct clothing and footwear for the outdoors. Whilst every effort is made to provide accurate information, walkers head out at their own risk.

Please observe the Countryside Code and park sensibly.