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Burley in Wharfedale Stepping Stones

Anyone who has tried a walking route which involved crossing the river Wharfe via the stepping stones at Burley in Wharfedale could have felt frustration on arriving at the river, to find that they were under water. There has been no way to know the state of them, before making the half mile trek to the river.

There is a Government Check for Flooding service at Ilkley which shows real time river level figures for the Wharfe, virtually on an hourly basis and I have long thought that there must be some correlation between the level recorded there and that the information would help in planning walks.

During a relatively dry spell between 19 January 2023 and 14 February 2023, I made a series of visits to the stepping stones site at the river, to observe the river level and recorded the readings at the Ilkley measuring station. It is surprising what a difference a couple of centimeters at Ilkley makes to the level at Burley.

To cut a long story short, a safe crossing of these stones should be possible if the river level recorded at Ilkley is:

 0.17m or less.

The real time river levels at Ilkley can be checked at https://check-for-flooding.service.gov.uk/station/8106

As stated in the full report, 0.17m or less was selected as the point at which the surface of all the stones were just (and it is only just) proud of the water, so reducing the chance of slipping. Some might consider it safe to cross whilst there was minimal water over the stones but any slip/fall could result in injury. It should also be noted there is a deep weir pool alongside the stones. One person's 'safe' is another's 'risk' so it is up to you!

The study also revealed that using this 0.17m level, the stepping stones are unavailable for 70% of the year. The odds are therefore that if you simply trust to luck, you will have a wasted trip! Even in mid summer, a crossing is not guaranteed.

For anyone who is interested in the detail, I have put my findings in a report and spreadsheet as PDFs which can be seen via the following links.

Water Level Report

Spreadsheet showing daily water levels in 2021

All information on this site is given in good faith and no liability is accepted in respect of any damage, loss or injury which might result from acting on it.