After a busy few weeks over Christmas (including a long journey up to the Cairngorms and back), we decided to have a nice easy weekend without a long drive for a walk. We also wanted a walk which was reasonably quick and easy while we were still in recovery mode! Looking online and in our walk books there weren’t many walks which met all of these criteria and so we decided to freestyle and make a route of our own, starting from the pretty Wensleydale village of Preston-under-Scar. I’m always a bit anxious about making up our own routes in new places (what if a footpath is totally impassable?!) but we had no issues with this one at all and, with good weather and a clear blue sky, we had a lovely winter morning stroll.
The route we plotted was a circular walk of just over three and a half miles, starting from Preston-under-Scar where there is free roadside parking (please park considerately). Quickly picking up a footpath on the edge of the village, the route follows grassy tracks, surfaced paths and some less obvious trails to take you through fields, across moorland and along the edge of a woodland, as well as passing a working quarry. For such a short walk the scenery is incredibly varied – in particular the views over Wensleydale from the track above Scarlet Wood are incredible. I didn’t notice them on the outward leg climbing up a muddy track as I was too busy hanging onto a fence dragging myself up a slippery slope!
My favourite part of this walk was walking across Preston Moor – it’s so bleak and windswept (like most moors) and I love the feeling of being so far removed from every day life. Half way across the moor you enter Access Land with a dog restriction, so we had to make sure we kept to the public footpath – easier said than done when it was totally invisible and required tramping through completely trackless heather! Fortunately the OS Maps app is marvellous and we were able to make sure that we stayed on course.
Towards the start and end of this walk you pass a working quarry. This slightly disrupts the path you take at the start as you’ll need to detour around it, but this is easily navigable and doesn’t add any extra time to your walk.
You do gain some height over the course of the walk, but both your ascent and descent is fairly gentle. The paths were mostly dry (muddy in places) but that may be due to the fact it was absolutely freezing with most puddles frozen over and snow on the ground in places. In our previous experience walking around this part of Wensleydale it can be pretty soggy underfoot, so waterproof boots are definitely a good idea.
Despite the walk being fairly short, we certainly felt ready to get back to the car to head home for a cup of tea and bacon butty. Being out on the moor is very exposed and the wind was extremely chilly, so make sure you wrap up warm!
Dog friendly rating – 3.5/5. Unlike a lot of walks in the Dales, we did find a few places on this walk where you could let your dog off the lead for a good run. At the start of the walk you pass through the bottom of a disused quarry where it was safe to let the dogs off the lead, and there are a few enclosed lanes along the way too. On the moor, be aware of ground nesting birds and grouse, which we saw plenty of! Poor Merry was very frustrated with them constantly popping up and flying right in front of him and not being able to chase them. There were quite a lot of stiles on this walk, most of which required us to lift the dogs over – so be prepared to get muddy.
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