Calendar Girls – Hetton – Rylstone – Cracoe round
North Yorkshire is England’s largest county and one of the most rural comprising of the Yorkshire Dales, North York Moors, Vale of York and the coastal regions and they all have their own distinctive natural beauty. The county covers an area of 3,341 square miles and 40% of this area is covered by National Parks and with stunning moorland, beautiful dramatic to rolling hills, ancient woodland, a spectacular coastline, splendid waterfalls, many attractive villages and hamlets and many historic sites such as abbeys, castles, priories, stately homes and traditional pubs there is something for everyone of all ages to explore.
The Yorkshire Dales is an upland area of Northern England spanning westwards from the Vale of York, over the Pennines and into Cumbria. Known mainly as The Dales it has outstanding scenery, a diversity of wildlife habitats, a rich cultural heritage and peacefulness. The Yorkshire Dales National Park, created in 1954 and one of fifteen National Parks in Britain, has over twenty main dales each with their own unique character and atmosphere. Most of the dales are named after their river or stream except Wensleydale which is named after the small village and former market town of Wensley rather than the River Ure. The Northern Dales are rugged and the Southern Dales are less remote but the dales, so beautiful, are littered and scared with ancient settlement sites, disused mineral workings, dry-stone walls and barns. The U and V shaped valleys, formed by glaciers, are mainly grazed by sheep and cattle and provides the hills for walkers and climbers and the valley bottoms for strollers and amblers.
Hetton is a small village situated just off the B6265 about 8 miles south west of Grassington and 6 miles north of Skipton. The village houses The Angel pub. The Dales High Way, which passes through the village, is a 90 mile long distance footpath across the glorious high country of the Yorkshire Dales. The route starting in the World Heritage village of Saltaire heads north following ancient trade routes, green lanes and packhorse trails wherever possible and ends at Appleby-in-Westmoorland in Cumbria.
Rylstone is a small village situated on the B6265 below Barden Fell and the twin skyline landmarks of Rylstone Cross and Cracoe War Memorial obelisk. Rylstone became famous in 1990 as being the original home of the Rylstone Women’s Institute, whose members achieved fame by posing nude for a celebrated charity calendar. The calendar went on to raise large amounts of money for Leukaemia Research. Their story was made into the 2003 film “Calendar Girls” staring Helen Mirren and Julie Walters. Many of the outdoor shots were based in nearby Kettlewell in Wharfedale and Skipton. In 2015 “Take That” singer Gary Barlow and Tim Firth wrote a stage musical based on the Calendar Girls. This version called simply “The Girls” premiered at the Grand Theatre in Leeds in December of the same year to immediate acclaim. The musical story, along with the previous movie, books and related merchandise is expected to help the group raise money for Leukaemia Research for many years to come. Rylstone railway station which opened in 1902 closed to passengers in 1930 then closed completely in 1969. The Tour-de-France stage 1 from Leeds to Harrogate passed through Rylstone on the 5th July 2014 and Rylstone is referenced in the poem “The White Doe in Rylstone” by William Wordsworth.
Cracoe, also situated on the B6265, is a small village located north of Hetton and Rylstone. On the south east edge of the village there is evidence of an army training camp and the circular earthworks visible from Fell Lane are searchlight battery emplacements. The nearby Cracoe Reef Knolls, a series of limestone hills which are geological remnants of an ancient coral reef.
Grassington a wonderful market town situated in Wharfedale in the Yorkshire Dales is surrounded by limestone scenery. Grassington was granted a Royal Charter for a market and fair in 1282 and the market was held regularly until 1860. Grassington only started to thrive during the late 18th and early 19th century. The opening of the Yorkshire Dales Railway to nearby Threshfield in 1901 brought many new visitors who settled and found work in Skipton or in the developing limestone quarries. Linton Falls on the River Wharfe, just south of Grassington, can be reached from the back of the car park. The falls are spectacular and in 1909 a hydroelectric plant at the falls supplied Grassington with its first electricity and operated until 1948. The plant is now being restored, through an English Heritage project, using two Archimedean screw turbines to produce 510,000 kilowatt hours per year. Today Grassington is a popular tourist place and centred round its cobbled square are a good selection of shops offering food, drinks, clothing and gifts. There are three pubs the Black Horse Hotel, the Devonshire Hotel and the Foresters Arms all of which have accommodation along with some guest houses and there is the Tourist Information Centre in Grassington car park.
With The angel pub at Hetton on our right we head along the road, using the pavement, to the y-junction. We turn left opposite the church, sign posted Rylstone. We follow the track which turns left then right crossing over a little well worn stone bridge. On reaching a minor road we turn right under the railway bridge. We walk into Rylstone passing the pond on our left to the main road. We turn left then right at the signpost for the church and follow the lane. Just past the church we turn right and keep following the track past a clump of trees until we reach another track we turn left. As the path starts to rise we turn left through the gate next to the Barden Moor and Barden Fell Access Areas information board. We now follow the path uphill. After going through a gate the path levels out we pass through a gap in the wall and keep heading forward to the next gap in the wall. We now turn left uphill following the wall on our left until we reach the cross. We go over the wall for a quick look at the cross then return to the path and keep heading forward with the wall still on our left until we reach the monument. We cross over the ladder stile to the monument, a war memorial, and then bear right now with the wall on our right for about 200 yards until the grass path splits. We bear left on a sunken path downhill which becomes quite steep. At the bottom we cross over a marshy bit of land to go through a gate onto a grass track between two walls. We now follow the track called Fell Lane until we reach an information board on our right at Cracoe we turn left here and walk along the back lane which turns right then left. We now follow the little stream on our left then just before the main road we turn left onto a track called Chapel Lane. We follow the lane to go through a gate. We pass a man made pond on our left and continue following the track bearing right round the farm to the church. We retrace our steps down the lane to the main road at Rylstone. We cross straight over passing the pond on our left until we come to the minor road. We turn right pass under the railway bridge and then turn immediate left. We now retrace our steps along the track back into Hetton.
This is an easy to moderate walk on grass and gravel tracks and paths, short distance on minor tarmac road and a marshy area at the bottom of Cracoe Fell.
Elevation: approx lowest point 166.10m (545ft) approx highest point 502.60m (1649ft) approx ascent 425.50m (1396ft)
Distance and Start Point
Approx 7.7 miles allow 3½ – 4 hours using OS Explorer Map OL2, Yorkshire Dales Southern and Western areas. This walk is done anti-clockwise.
Start point: The Angel pub at Hetton.
Hetton, Rylstone and Cracoe are situated between Grassington and Skipton on the B6265 in the Yorkshire Dales.
Directions and Parking
From the A1 take the A61 to Ripon. At Ripon take the B6265 through Pateley Bridge, past Hebden then continue through Grassington and Threshfield to the end of the road. Turn left still on the B6265 towards Skipton. Just after passing through Cracoe take the first right to Hetton.
Parking: Free road side parking.
Toilets and Refreshments
There are no public toilets the nearest ones are at Grassington, Gargrave and Skipton. For refreshments there is The Angel at Hetton and the Devonshire Arms at Cracoe. There are also many cafes, pubs, restaurants and shops at Grassington and Skipton.