Leathley, Stainburn, Braythorn and Lindley

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Start: Leathley Distance: 6.1 miles (9.9 km) Climbing: 202 metres
Grid Ref: SE232471 Time: 3 hours Rating: Moderate
GPX Route File Google Earth File About Leathley
Start: Leathley Distance: 6.1 miles (9.9 km)
Grid Ref: SE232471 Time: 3 hours
Climbing: 202 metres Rating: Moderate
GPX Route File Google Earth File
Ordnance Survey Explorer Map (1:25,000)

Summary: This walk is so convenient for those of you living in the North Leeds or Harrogate area. The starting point, Leathley is situated near to Pool in Wharfedale on the main Leeds to Harrogate road, the A658. It is near to the often over-crowded Chevin area near Otley and is peacefully idyllic with everything to offer the walker in terms of views, scenery and interesting sections including bridleways, fields, woods, tracks, beautiful villages, undulations and streams. I am confident you will enjoy this walk should you decide to do it. Leathley is a splendid little hamlet on the B6161 from Pool in Wharfedale to Killinghall near Harrogate. The road can be busy especially at the weekend but never enough to cause delays. Just outside the village towards Harrogate stands Lindley Farm, the original farm used in the Emmerdale Farm TV programme, and a familiar view of it can be seen during the walk.

The Walk:

Looking back to Leathley ChurchLooking back to Leathley Church"
On Leafield Lane, heading towards Riffa WoodOn Leafield Lane, heading towards Riffa Wood

Start the walk by assembling at the little grass triangle on the opposite side of the main road to the church. Follow the Hall Lane Bridleway in an easterly direction past Leathley Hall and stay in a virtual straight line crossing stiles and avoiding tracks to your right as you negotiate Leafield Lane Bridleway with Riffa Wood straight ahead in your sights.

Bluebells and grass near Leathley HallBluebells and grass near Leathley Hall
Desolation Row, perishing trees on Leafield LaneDesolation Row, perishing trees on Leafield Lane

If it is clear look slightly right of the wood at the Arthington Viaduct structure on the Leeds to Harrogate railway link. The walking so far is flat and although you in an area close to the conurbations of Leeds, Bradford and Harrogate you feel totally at peace in the pleasant countryside surroundings.

Stepping stones across Thrispin Beck near Riffa WoodStepping stones across Thrispin Beck near Riffa Wood
Riffa WoodRiffa Wood

The only distractions that may throw you back to urbanisation might be distant noise from the nearby A638 or that of an aircraft arriving or departing from Leeds/ Bradford airport. Even these disturbances will go soon as you leave the bridleway to cross a field towards Thrispin Beck. The beck is a lovely little spot to stop for a breather and drink before entering Riffa Wood. Note there are stepping stones across Thrispin Beck so consider not doing the walk in times of excessive rain. In the wood you face a slight climb but its a peaceful spell and at its best in spring when the bluebells are out forming a beautiful carpet on the ground.

Taking a breather in Riffa WoodTaking a breather in Riffa Wood
Rock carving in Riffa WoodRock carving in Riffa Wood

The wood is short in length but with it being uphill you can take your time to enjoy the wondrous splendour of the wood and the tranquil peace it has to offer. While in Riffa Wood also take time to look for an unusual carving made out of a rock. It sits beside the west side of the track, or to your left as you walk up through the wood. The figure in the rock looks content and why not in such brilliant surroundings.

Countryside near Bogridge FarmCountryside near Bogridge Farm
Stainburn ChurchStainburn Church

Leave the wood and enter fields of pasture. Turn left and make a slight climb into a second field to the top of the nearby land. From here look straight on towards the village of Stainburn. The walk is now slightly downhill and if you look to your right you will see the outcrop of Almscliffe Crag. Walk into Stainburn and follow the road through the village until you reach a bend in the road to your left. Leave the road and go through a field that takes you up to the church.

Hawthorn Blossom in StainburnHawthorn Blossom in Stainburn
The much maligned yet beautiful DandelionThe much maligned yet beautiful Dandelion

The church is in a wonderful setting on the hilltop. It has served the people well over the years as is shown by the epitaphs on the gravestones in the churchyard. Take some time out to read some of the poignant memorials written. It is a refreshing reminder of community spirit, a virtue I deeply believe in and one we must cherish. The panoramic views from the church are stunning on a clear day and just imagine as you look south to the Chevin Hill that just beyond is the much different chaotic world that exists in the sprawls of Leeds and Bradford.

Walking to Stainburn GillWalking to Stainburn Gill

Leave the churchyard and walk up the road for 400 yards to the village of Braythorn which in reality is a row of properties in a single line on a very quiet country lane. On reaching the village chapel leave the road and then turn left down a path that takes you down towards West Beck, alternatively titled Stainburn Gill before climbing from the gill to follow the lane a little more and then out into the open through fields and over stiles to West End Farm.

Lovely springtime near Stainburn GillLovely springtime near Stainburn Gill
Crossing lush grassed fields on Leathley MoorCrossing lush grassed fields on Leathley Moor

After West End Farm cross the B8181 and walk over the fields that occupy Leathley Moor in a westerly direction towards Lindley Green. You leave the fields and meet a road at a junction with a sign pointing to Lindley. Stop for a while and if you look to the south and down the fields you will see the original location of Emmerdale Farm. After looking follow the single track road to Lindley. At the village leave the road and walk down a lane for about 200 yards until you see a stile pointing you left down a hill. Follow this route to Lindley Bridge and the trout farm.

River Washburn at Lindley BridgeRiver Washburn at Lindley Bridge
Track, Bridge and stile near Lindley BridgeTrack, Bridge and stile near Lindley Bridge

At the bridge near the farm take a break and take stock as there is only the home leg of about one mile to go. This final mile is along a stream in lovely scenery. This last leg is delightful and pays a complement to the whole walk. A distinct path follows the stream through little copses and fields where birds and butterflies are in abundance.

Woodland walking beside the River WashburnWoodland walking beside the River Washburn
The beautiful River WashburnThe beautiful River Washburn

All too soon the path leads us out of this spot to the main road that we must follow back to the church in Leathley. Or do we? I have to say Lil and I did on the day we did this walk but some time later a local walker called Jack Chevallier worked out it would be a better finale to walk along the road a little and then cross it, using the Green Cross Code of course, to follow a path across fields from Fishpool to Hartmires and then follow the village road back to the church. Thanks Jack. (This route amendment is the one shown and available in the files available for download).

Lovely shades of greenLovely shades of green
Milepost in LeathleyMilepost in Leathley

And so a fantastic and enjoyable walk is done, and one so near to the folk of the Leeds and Harrogate areas. It is getting to be popular with the increasing participation in leisure walking. It is so obvious to me why this is so...it is one of the most exceptional walks in the area. I have loved the walk which I prefer to do in springtime when the Bluebells are glistening with joyous vivacity in Riffa Wood. Simply brilliant.

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