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5 Walks In The Yorkshire Dales

Burley-in-Wharfedale to the Cow and Calf Rocks

Starting point  and OS Grid reference:

The Roundhouse, Burley-in-Wharfedale (SE 166464). Car park at rear of Queens Hall, across Main Street.

Ordnance Survey Map

OS Explorer 297 Lower Wharfedale & Washburn Valley

Distance: 7.3 miles

Date of Walk: 22 March 2015

Traffic light rating:   

(For explanation see My Walks page)

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 Click the PDF logo above to give a printable version of this walk without the photos.

Walk from Burley-in-Wharfedale to Cow and Calf Rocks

To view route as a dynamic Ordnance Survey map click here.

Introduction: This walk takes you past the hamlet of Stead and across Ben Rhydding Golf course to the famous Cow and Calf rocks before turning back towards Burley via the edge of Ilkley and Burley Moors (parts of the greater Rombalds Moor).

At various points during the walk are fine views across the Wharfe valley to Askwith, Denton and Beamsley moors. The landmark of Beamsley Beacon is clearly visible, as is Almscliff Crag. The walk back along the edge of the moors provides particularly fine views.

Stead (and the nearby hamlet of Burley Woodhead) formed an 18C township. Indeed, Stead could have been a Roman outpost on the Adel/Ilkley Roman road. At one time it had a hall or manor but now only the farmstead remains. In the 16C, the manor belonged to the Knights of St John.

Stead Hall Farm and Low Stead Farm are Grade II listed.

The Cow and Calf Rocks (also known as Hangingstone Rocks) are composed of millstone grit and comprise one large and one small rock (hence Cow and Calf). Behind these is a quarry whose walls are popular with climbers.

A curiosity to watch out for on the return is Pancake Rock, an unmistakable flat slab of rock which looks to hang somewhat precariously. On its surface are several “cup” markings which date back probably to the Bronze Age. Their purpose is unknown. Unfortunately the markings are very worn by the weather and not helped by the habit of many people to stand on the rock for the dramatic exposure. However you can still spot them if you look closely. The angle of the light also makes a difference.

One feature of this walk is the abundance of refreshment opportunities. The first is at Audley Clevedon retirement village, which has a bar/restaurant. Next is the Cow and Calf Rock Café and Cow and Calf Hotel. On the return, you pass within yards of Bleach Mill House which offers soft drinks, cakes etc.

Start: With your back to the door of the Roundhouse, turn left and walk through the park, to Grange Road and turn right. At the junction, turn left and walk up Station Road and under the railway bridge, where it becomes Moor Lane.

Continue up Moor Lane, passing Hag Farm Road (on the left) and William Fison Ride (on the right). Just past the sports field, turn right along the tarmac drive, indicated by the public footpath fingerpost (SE 159456). The turn is directly opposite the house Oakfield.

Stay on this drive passing the sports pavilion until you reach the sign for Scalebor Park Farm, branch off left here following the yellow footpath arrow.

Footpath near Burley-in-Wharfedale

View to Burley and Ilkley Moors

On reaching a tarmac lane, turn right.

Follow the lane past the small development of houses on the right, then branch off left, through an old green painted metal gate, indicated by a public footpath sign – the lane past here is a private road.

When the path forks, go through the kissing gate and follow the left hand field boundary. Go through another kissing gate at the end of the field and keep straight ahead.

In the far right hand corner of the field, go through a third kissing gate and keep straight ahead on the tarmac drive (SE 147459). You now stay on this track for half a mile passing through a cluster of buildings which is Stead. The drive soon deteriorates into a normal farm track. Follow this through the farm.

Less than 100 yards beyond the farm buildings, turn left through a taller than usual kissing gate to follow the footpath between fencing (SE 145462).

Keep to the right hand boundary of the next field. There are good views here across to Denton and Askwith Moors. At the end of this field, go through a slit stile and there is the end of a wall opposite. Your route is to the right of this wall. Follow it along and in the corner, go through a kissing gate. Turn right to follow the path anticlockwise round the property (Mount Stead), crossing another stile.

View to Denton and Askwith Moors

Just past Mount Stead, the path continues straight ahead. Below you are the buildings of Audley Clevedon retirement village.

Cross a stone slab bridge and go through the ancient metal kissing gate. Follow the path through another kissing gate to a tarmac drive and turn right (SE 142465).

Old slab bridge and kissing gate

At a junction of tracks by Audley Clevedon, turn left, following the yellow footpath arrow. Stay on this broad track to another and turn left for only a few yards before turning right to pass Gib Field Farm. Along here are good views across the valley to Beamsley Beacon and the rather splendid Denton Hall.

Denton Hall

Beamsley Beacon

Just past the farm buildings, the path bears slightly left, then passes via a slit stile on to Ben Rhydding Golf Course.

The footpath route starts off at the left of the mown area, then branches off right at the first green you come to. There is a yellow arrow at the edge of the green and the path is obvious. You get a very good view of the Cow and Calf rocks from here.

Approaching the Cow and Calf Rocks

The path starts to follow the left hand boundary of the golf course and by some trees, turns left, indicated by a yellow footpath arrow. Follow the path as it curves right to a kissing gate. Through this bear left towards the Cow and Calf rocks. There are good views here up Wharfedale.

Cow and Calf Rocks

At the road (SE 133468), go straight ahead. Here is a refreshment opportunity at the café or along the road, the Cow and Calf Hotel is visible.

The route follows the paved path to the top of the rocks, turning left just before the “mouth” of the quarry. It changes to a rougher footpath. At a junction of paths, turn left.

Cow and Calf Rocks quarry

More or less opposite the Cow and Calf Hotel, the track forks. Take the path to the right and follow it as it ascends to the ridge. Above you is the large, flat promontory of Pancake Rock. You can continue on the path to the ridge but it is worth a diversion to see dramatic Pancake Rock and the ancient cup and ring markings. To reach it, turn right on a small, steep path just below the rock and once on a level with it, turn left.

View of Wharfedale

Pancake Rock

Pancake Rock and view over Ilkley to Beamsley Beacon

Cup markings on Cow and Calf Rocks

From Pancake Rock (SE 134462), continue along the edge of the moor to join the main path. There are some useful rocks here where you can enjoy a picnic with a spectacular view across the valley with less of the crowds found at the top of the Cow and Calf.

View over Burley-in-Wharfedale

The route now follows the edge of the moor remaining reasonably level until you reach Coldstone Beck, passing an old quarry and a row of grouse butts.

Drop down to Coldstone Beck (SE 146452) and up the far side. Stay on the same path until it starts to level out where it forks. Take the left fork and continue to follow the main moor edge path, ignoring any minor paths which lead off.

When you reach another broad path opposite a building (SE 150451), (there is a wooden post on the corner) turn right, soon passing a small post on the left bearing the initials RWB (the former Rombalds Water Board). Follow the path as it passes the rear of Crag Top Farm. To the right is the embankment of Carr Bottom Reservoir.

Keep left when the track forks. Next, pass a recent conversion of an old water filter station and at the rear of an older stone property (York View), turn left through the farm gate (SE 149446).

Follow this lane (Green Lane) down to the road.

Carefully cross the road to follow the steeply descending drive to houses opposite, marked with a public footpath fingerpost. There is a bench on the corner.

At the bottom of the drive, turn left in front of the last house on the left (The Glen) and down the steps. They are marked with a yellow arrow. Cross a bridge and follow the obvious path which now follows Carr Beck for quite a while.

You pass the industrial remains of an old dam and chimney in the woods on the right, a legacy of an old bleach mill, before having to scramble over an unusual three-stone stile.

Old Bleach Mill dam sluice gate and chimney

When you arrive at a broad track with multiple footpath arrows (SE 159446), turn left. (If you wanted to briefly turn right here, Bleach Mill House is a hundred yards or so further on, where refreshments can usually be obtained).

Cross a stile and bear right to join Hag Farm Road. Follow this back to Burley, turning right under the railway bridge.

If you need to buy any hiking equipment/clothing before your trip see the Hiking Store

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