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,

YOCKENTHWAITE Moor (lying between the head of Wharfedale and Wensleydale) is probably the least visited summit of the ‘Dales 30’ mountains.

It can be rough in places underfoot but is full of interest with the mountain framed by the superb scenery around Semer Water.

Park in Marsett, cross to the south bank of Marsett Beck and head east to cross the main stream out of Semer Water.

Semer Water is the second largest natural lake in the Yorkshire Dales (only Malham Tarn is larger) is 800m long, has a nature reserve to its south and attracts fishermen, water sport enthusiasts and nature lovers alike.

There are very few natural bodies of water in the area due to the porous nature of the bedrock. Climb steeply east up a path joining a track leading into Stalling Busk.

From Stalling Busk head a few metres north on the road then join a footpath climbing steeply south to the old drovers’ track linking Wensleydale and Upper Wharfedale. Follow the track for a little over two miles of easy walking.

At a sharp 45 degree bend and gate leave the track and follow a wall turning into a fence heading SW. The first three quarters of a mile is straightforward on good turf. However as the fence gradually bends towards the west the terrain deteriorates into peat hags.

Peat is an organic soil that forms in cold, acidic, waterlogged conditions. Mosses and plants such as sphagnum grow and die creating the thick layers of peat. Peat itself is good for the environment with its high carbon content and its capacity to absorb and hold water reducing flooding on lowlands. However, much of our peat has been used as drainage, grazing and moorland burning creating a drier peat that breaks down creating the unpleasant peat bogs. The flatness of some of the high moorland accelerates this breakdown and creates the ‘rivers’ of peat which make walking on Yockenthwaite Moor so tricky.

It is important to keep the fence in sight and pick the best route, there is no path. Ignore the newer fence coming in from your left, do not follow these (check your compass) and head west to the summit trig point, one mile of peat walking.

From the trig point follow the fence, which turns into a wall, north for a further three quarters of a mile.

A gate in a wall running at right angles marks the start of shooting country. From here carry on north past some shooting butts to another wall after half a a mile. Follow the wall NE (to the right) to an obvious access road. This road leads downhill, past some forestry on the left, to Raydale House.

Take the main access road to the farm and follow it for 1 mile back to Marsett.

For a memorable day it is possible to park at the NE end of Semer Water and include a pleasant circuit of the lake in the walk.

Fact File:

Distance: Roughly 9.5 miles.

Height to Climb: 430m (1,420 feet)

Start: SD 903862. Park considerably in the village, there are some spaces.

Difficulty: Hard. The terrain is rough for a good proportion of the walk. A map and compass are essential.

Refreshments: Head back to Bainbridge or Askrigg with their choice of pubs and cafes.

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 (O/S Explorer 30) 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.