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Route No 7 - Tuesday 11 September 2001
Cavendish Pavillion, Valley of Desolation
Simon's Seat, Barden Bridge, the Strid - 13.5km
Wharfedale, Yorkshire Dales . . .

Route map from Ordnance Survey Open Space service.

Map: OS Explorer OL2 Yorkshire Dales Southern & Western areas at 1:25000

The Cavendish Pavillion cafe
The Cavendish Pavillion cafe

I believe it's so called because of the devastation caused by a huge flash flood towards the end of the 19th century, but now it's a very pretty wooded valley with a fine waterfall. However we could not walk past the waterfall today because of a land slip that had taken away the path.

Today two neighbours and I set off just before 9.00am for Bolton Abbey on the Duke of Devonshire's estates where access to Barden Moor is now open. We parked at the Cavendish Pavillion cafe. It's a bit expensive at £3.00 for the day but it's convenient to have the cafe and toilets close by. We set off across the bridge over the river Wharfe and headed for the valley of desolation.

Fallen tree in the valley of desolation
Fallen tree in the valley of desolation

Stone picnic table
Stone picnic table

The place was deserted except for a shepherd with two dogs slowly gathering the sheep together on the moor. The views over Wharfedale and beyond are tremendous which ever direction you look. We sat amonst the rocks for another drink and a sandwich and watched a long crocodile of other people slowly climbing the path to the top.

We continued up out of the woods and onto the heather moors. A good stone track, provided for grouse shooting rather than walking I think, leads up a long climb toward the rocky outcrops close to the summit. We stopped for a drink part way up at a stone picnic table beside the path and a couple of hours after our start we were at the trig point on top of Simon's Seat.

Rocky outcrop near the summit
Rocky outcrop near the summit

The trig point on top of the Simon's Seat rocky outcrop

It was very peaceful watching the river flowing by and the trees waving gently. I took a photo to use in this diary. I'm going on about it because just at that time hijacked airliners were being crashed into buildings in America with huge loss of life. From Barden Bridge we took the footpath by the river (it's open from here) through the woods to the Strid.

After about 20mins. other walkers began to arrive and we started to make our way down to a gravelled path and through the woods to Howgill where we would normally have followed the Dales Way back but the river bank path is still closed as part of the foot and mouth disease precautions, so we turned right and followed the road for about a mile and a half to Barden Bridge where we arrived at about 2.00pm.

Barden Bridge
Barden Bridge

Aqueduct over the River Wharfe upstream of the Strid
Aqueduct over the River Wharfe upstream of the Strid

When we got home, my neighbour's wife came out to meet us in tears and my neighbour went to comfort her as she blurted out the dreadful events in America. We were just stunned, it all sounded like an over the top script for a bad movie. How could these terrible things be happening whilst we were enjoying the beauty and peace of the English countryside.

The Strid is a narrow rock passage that the whole river Wharfe has to pass through in a churning mass of white water where, only about a year ago, a honeymoon couple were the latest in a long line of people drowned here. From the Strid it's just over a mile back to the Cavendish Pavillion cafe.

"The Strid"

Ducks at the Cavendish Pavillion cafe

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