Marsett - Bardale Head - Marsett

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Hawes has it all: coaches queuing to disgorge trippers, suicidal motorcyclists binge-feeding burgers and chips before trying to reach Kirkby Lonsdale in under fifteen minutes (alive – aah, that’s the trick, boys) and on Market Days, local farmers piloting their SWB Land-Rovers, Ifor Williams trailers full to bursting with sheep. And if that’s not enough… Well, actually it is, thank you. Just a short distance along the Bainbridge road there is a turning right running steeply up to Burtersett and on over Burtersett High Pasture into a beautiful little valley – Raydale – that contains Semerwater and allegedly, England’s shortest river, the Bain.

Once you leave Wensleydale and start the descent towards Semerwater, you are in a different world. The three villages of Countersett, Stalling Busk and Marsett between them have no shops, no pubs and just three public telephones (I haven’t counted the horses). Even the RAF generally leaves the place alone, though you occasionally hear jets roaring along Wensleydale 500m above the River Ure, racing the motorcyclists no doubt. Without a car you will have to walk here from Hawes, but that is the beauty of the place.

Driving along the single-track road to Marsett recalls a bygone age of few cars. Park there and start walking along the valley away from your car, away from any road – a whole valley with only a river and footpaths! People talk of an 'air of mystery' surrounding Semerwater. Maybe that is so for some but I feel it is, quite simply, peaceful... and beautiful.

England - North England - Yorkshire - Yorkshire Dales

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Great Views
23/07/2021 - Helen Colley

Did this walk on a beautiful sunny day in July. Absolutely superb. We’ve often done the walk around Semerwater and looked longingly up to Bardale Head, and it did not disappoint. As mentioned in the walk notes, not only were there lovely wild flowers, but also the many different grasses with their seed heads were gorgeous. The path up to the sycamore clump is often indistinct, but trust the instructions and you can’t go wrong. The sycamore clump is the perfect place for a picnic, its shade was very welcome on a hot day. The path was also tricky to find for a short stretch between WP22 and WP23 where the walk forks right from the main grassy track. Follow the GPS on the walk map, or a compass bearing, to get to the sheepfold. Or continue on the clear grassy path and you’ll soon come to a clear path downhill. It’s not much longer. Sadly there are now signs of ash die-back in the area :-( We ended the day by driving back to the Bainbridge end of Semerwater and going for a swim!

10/09/2007 - Walkingworld Administrator

Thanks Lorraine. We've notched the distance up to 12km now. Chris Stewart.

05/09/2007 - Lorraine Cardwell

A very long 9.50km!! but worth it for the views

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13.1 Miles