Buckden Pike and the Polish Memorial
Upper Wharfedale, Buckden, Skipton, North Yorkshire BD23 5JARoute details and mapDownload as a print friendly PDF
This strenous walk climbs to the top of Buckden Pike, heads along the ridge passing the Polish War Memorial and back down into Starbotton returning along the riverside.
- Bus stop
Start: Buckden car park, grid ref: SD943774
Leave Buckden through the bridleway gate at the top of the car park leading away from the village. Follow the track uphill enjoying the fine views up Langstrothdale on your left. Go through the metal gate, turn right and continue up the bridleway. Go through another wooden gate, and follow the path uphill through several open gateways in the drystone walls until you reach another wooden gate.
Go through the gate and continue along the surfaced route, constructed to prevent damage to the fragile peat moorland, until you reach a steeper stone-pitched path. Follow this to the summit trig point at 702 meters.
Buckden Pike is a fell at the head of Wharfedale in the Yorkshire Dales. At 702 meters it narrowly misses out on being the highest peak in the area; that title instead goes to nearby Great Whernside at 704 meters. The views from the summit can be described as some of the finest in the area. To the east is the ridge running from Little Whernside to Great Whernside; to the west are the views into the heart of the Yorkshire Dales including views of Yorkshire Three Peaks, as well as closer peaks such as Firth Fell and Yockenthwaite Moor.
Do not cross the wall but continue along the wide moorland ridge, crossing a stile and keeping the wall on your left. The moorland here is important grouse moor and dogs are not allowed any further. At the south end of the ridge cross the ladder stile that leads to the War Memorial.
The cross is a memorial to five Polish airmen who died when their Wellington Bomber crashed on Buckden Pike during a snowstorm in 1942. The sixth crew member survived with only a broken ankle. Following the footprints of a fox in the snow he managed to crawl to the safety of the village of Cray. The survivor organised the building of the cross in 1973.
Walk downhill from the memorial, this time keeping the wall on your right. Take care as the peat is badly eroded and there are many gullies known as hags. When your reach a gate in the wall turn right and go through it. Follow the old Walden Road two miles downhill to Starbotton.
At Starbotton cross the road and pick up the footpath by the barn that leads down to the river. Cross the bridge over the River Wharfe and turn right. Follow the Dales Way footpath along the riverside back to Buckden. At the road go through the gate, turn right and take care as you cross the bridge and head back up the road towards the village and the car park.
The clean water of the River Wharfe is a source of food for many birds. Look out for Kingfisher, Goosander, Oystercatcher, Heron, Dipper and Sand Martin. You may also see Brown Trout swimming lazily in the calmer sections of the river, or a glimpse of an otter if you are really lucky.
End: Buckden car park, grid ref: SD943774
- Trail: Walking
- Grade: Hard
- Distance: 7 Miles (11km)
- Time: 3 hours to 4 hours
- OS Map: Explorer OL30; Landranger 98
Mostly across fields, unmade tracks and open fellside. Very strenuous, steep climb up to Buckden Pike; can be muddy after wet weather. Dogs welcome under close control; they must be kept on leads at certain times of year.
- How to get here:
By foot: Buckden is on the Dales Way long distance footpath
By bike: on Yorkshire Dales Cycleway (Sustrans Regional Route 10); follow B6160 from Kettlewell to Buckden
By bus: Pride of the Dales 72, Skipton to Buckden; 800/5, Leeds & Ilkley to Buckden
By car: 18 miles (29km) north of Skipton; follow signs from Threshfield and Kettlewell
Car Park not NT, Toilets available at National Park car Park, Pubs and Cafes available in Buckden.
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