A circular walk from Grassington, though Grass Wood. The walk starts in the centre of Grassington village in Wharfedale, the Yorkshire Dales, going through the ancient Grass Wood and back along the River Wharfe to the village.
|Difficulty||Moderate. Some steep sections through the wood.|
|Type||Circular walk from Grassington, out through the village and Grass Wood. Back along the river.|
|Time required||2 hours|
Map of the walk
Park in the main car park just along Hebden Road. Walk back to the town and up Main Street through the Market Square. Keep going until you reach the Gallery on the corner of Chapel Street. Turn left into Chapel Street and follow the road until you reach Bank Lane. Turn right into Bank Lane and head uphill. The road will narrow into a track – keep going and just past the farm on your left there’s a gate which will take you over a stream and through a field to a gap in a drystone wall accessed via stone steps. Once over this head to the left and across the field to another small gated gap in a wall. You’ll see the next wall to cross very close on the left.
Then walk across a large field – there’s a rather tired signpost in the middle – heading for the corner. The narrow gap in the wall in the corner of the field is well hidden so it will look as though you are walking towards a wall with no exit. Don’t worry, it’ll appear as if by magic when you get close. Squeezing through will take you into a well-defined lane between 2 walls. Through a couple more fields and the entrance to the wood will be obvious. Access is over another wall via stone steps.
The path through the wood is clear. Grass Wood is very old and feels it. For me the most beautiful time to walk through is Spring, when the sun is out. The wood is bursting with life and colour, from the vivid, rich green of the new leaves, the bluebell covered ground, ferns unfurling and the moss-covered rocks. It has an almost magical feel.
The first half of the walk through the woods is an up-hill trudge. It seems to go on forever. Each time you go over the top of an incline thinking you’ve finally reached the top, you’re faced with another slope. You’ll stop climbing when you reach the signpost for Fort Gregory. After this its downhill all the way until you exit the wood.
Fort Gregory is an Iron Age fort now surrounded by this ancient wood. There are, in fact, various prehistoric settlements in the wood and you’ll come across signposts advising you of them occasionally. If you are interested in seeing the Fort, follow the signposted path for a few yards until you spot some steps up a hillock on the left. Climb the steps and follow the rough path to an open area at the top filled with the stones that form the remains of this settlement. It was obviously a good size and built on high ground, possibly the highest in the area. Without the trees that have grown up around it, the fort would have had commanding views of the surrounding countryside.
Returning down the steps to the path, turn left to join up with the main track again. Follow it downhill, bearing left at the bottom of the slope. As you approach the exit you’ll probably pass great stacks of logs, evidence of the conservation activity that regularly happens. Go through the gate and turn left, walking on the road for a few hundred yards until you come to a gate on the right.
Go through this and follow the path through another wooded area towards the river. The path now follows the river back to Grassington. The next half mile or so is in a wooded area and, in following the river you’ll have to walk uphill for a while before heading down and out of the wood via a gate. The countryside now opens up into sheep-nibbled fields. The path is clear and there may even be swimmers or canoeists in the river at points. Eventually, the impressive bridge over the river into Grassington comes into sight. The path takes you across a field, up a slope and out onto the road on the Grassington side of the bridge. Turn left, follow the road into the village and head for your favourite cafe or pub for a relaxing drink or bite to eat.