The Tributaries Walk is a 93-mile (150 km), eight day, circular walk focused on the rivers, streams and becks that flow through the valleys of the Yorkshire Dales. Beginning in Settle, the trail explores beautiful valleys and the high heather-clad moors that separate them. Visiting as many ‘dales’ as possible, the route meanders; picking out waterfalls, hidden caves, rocky escarpments and old pack-horse bridges. The guide book encourages interaction and includes a quiz to help walkers get the most out of their visit.
The route visits fifteen different ‘dales’ and each one has one or more rivers or streams running through it. Crossing between dales takes you over some wonderful high moorland and mountain terrain, past remote tarns and the trail visits some of the most picturesque villages anywhere in the country. The diversity of scenery and terrain makes this path a firm favourite with everyone who has walked it.
The Tributaries Walk guide book is a 150-page guide that has everything a walker could need to plan, prepare and walk the eight day route through Yorkshire’s limestone country. Detailed walking instructions take you step by step through the route, ensuring you can navigate with ease and confidence. A comprehensive town and village guide provides information about the facilities, services and amenities in each of the settlements the route passes through, including public transport links to get to and from the start.
Section 1: Settle to Ingleton
Distance: Approx 11 miles (18 km)
Height Gain: Approx 1,400 ft (427 m)
We climb out of Settle and use a wonderful high-level path across Giggleswick Scar to reach Feizor and the first tea room of the walk. From there it’s across farmland on good paths to the villages of Austwick and Clapham where we find a pub or a café for lunch. Afternoon sees us skirting the southern boundary of the Dales National Park as we pass through Newby and Cold Cotes and then a short stretch along a quiet lane into the village of Ingleton, famous for its waterfalls.
Section 2: Ingleton to Dent
Distance: Approx 10½ miles (17 km) via Kingsdale
Height Gain: Approx 1,700 ft (518 m)
Distance: Approx 12 miles (19 km) via Whernside
Height Gain: Approx 2,300 ft (701 m)
We can either leave Ingleton by the waterfall walk, or along a tarmac lane, both of which bring us to Twistleton Scar. Here we have another option; a wonderful high-level walk over Whernside, Yorkshire’s highest mountain, or a gentle stroll along the secluded valley of Kingsdale. The two routes join again a mile or so from our destination and we use the fields and hay meadows of Dentdale to reach the charming cobbled streets of its primary village, Dent.
Section 3: Dent to Garsdale Head
Distance: Approx 12 miles (19 km)
Height Gain: Approx 1,900 ft (579 m)
We leave Dent, following the River Dee through Dentdale, using the Dales Way footpath to arrive at the upper reaches of the dale. From here we climb the rugged track beneath the arches of Artengill Viaduct on Dent Fell and follow a lofty track around the upper slopes of Great Knoutberry Hill. The final stretch down to Garsdale Head is along the Coal Road, that used to connect the coal mines on Cowgill Head with the Settle-Carlisle railway.
Section 4: Garsdale Head to Muker
Distance: Approx 13 miles (21 km)
Height Gain: Approx 2,000 ft (610 m)
Field paths take us through Garsdale, over Cotter Riggs and into the heart of Cotterdale. A thin path then transitions us into the head of Wensleydale where we join the Pennine Way to climb to the summit of Great Shunner Fell, Yorkshire’s third highest mountain and an ancient look-out point. The descent of the hill brings us to Thwaite at the head of Swaledale, where we follow a path through the hay meadows into the tiny village of Muker.
Section 5: Muker to Askrigg
Distance: Approx 13 miles (21 km)
Height Gain: Approx 2,600 ft (823 m)
A day of historic exploration lies ahead of us as we leave Muker, following the River Swale through Kisdon Gorge, before climbing up into the beautiful Swinner Gill. We pass many ruined buildings and other remains of the lead mining industry as we descend into Gunnerside, perfectly positioned for lunch in the pub or tea room. The afternoon sees us climb up and over Askrigg Common, returning to Wensleydale and the village of Askrigg, with its James Herriot connections.
Section 6: Askrigg to Yockenthwaite
Distance: Approx 13½ miles (23 km)
Height Gain: Approx 2,000 ft (579 m)
We leave Askrigg, using paths beside the River Ure to reach Bainbridge and from there into Raydale and a lakeside path beside Semer Water, steeped in ancient legend. Beyond the lake we take to the hills again, using a fine path across the limestone pavement on Stake Moss, down to the buildings at Cray, one of which is a pub. We complete the day with a late afternoon stroll through the high meadows of Langstrothdale to the tiny settlement of Yockenthwaite.
Section 7: Yockenthwaite to Arncliffe
Distance: Approx 8 miles (13 km)
Height Gain: Approx 1,200 ft (366 m)
We begin the day with a steep climb past the waterfalls in Hagg Beck, up to the rather ominously named Horse Head Moor. We then drop down the other side of the hill into the beautiful, almost forgotten valley of Littondale. We can make a short diversion across the river to Litton, where there’s a pub for lunch, before continuing through the lush green fields to the village of Arncliffe, a filming location for the original Emmerdale Farm TV show.
Section 8: Arncliffe to Settle
Distance: Approx 12 miles (19 km)
Height Gain: Approx 2,200 ft (671 m)
The final day begins as so many others have done, with a climb. Today’s follows the Monk’s Road, to the high pastures above Littondale and across wide grassy tracks to the largest natural lake in the Dales, Malham Tarn. We visit the famous limestone pavement above Malham Cove before crossing more stunning limestone scenery above Stockdale, before we begin our descent into Settle and journey’s end.
These are some of the most frequently asked questions about this walk, with answers.
The Tributaries Walk is a 93-mile, eight day, circular long distance walk exploring the rivers and valleys of the Yorkshire Dales.
As its name suggests, the route is focused on the rivers, becks and gills that flow through the valleys of the Yorkshire Dales. Beginning in Settle, the trail explores beautiful valleys and the high heather-clad moors that separate them. Visiting as many ‘dales’ as possible, the route meanders; picking out waterfalls, hidden caves, rocky escarpments and old pack-horse bridges. The guide book encourages interaction and includes a quiz to help walkers get the most out of their visit.
The guide book describes the walk in a clockwise direction. The baggage services provided by Brigantes Holidays also work in a clockwise direction.
The walk has so many highlights, but the high path above the River Swale as you leave Muker and ascend up the wonderful Swinner Gill is spectacular, as is the ascent of Satron Moor on the way into Askrigg, high above the diminutive Oxnop Gill. If limestone pavement is of interest, then there is none better than that above Malham Cove, a wonder in its own right and a sight that everyone should experience at some point.
The route visits fifteen different ‘dales’ and each one has one or more rivers, becks or streams running through it. Crossing between dales takes you over some wonderful high moorland and mountain terrain, past remote tarns and the trail visits some of the most picturesque villages anywhere in the country. The diversity of scenery and terrain makes this path a firm favourite of anyone who has walked it.
The walk was originally devised by Mike Schofield, founder of Brigantes Walking Holidays. He wanted to create an interactive long distance path that walkers could engage with, through the use of questions throughout the text of the book, the answers to which could be found along the way. When Mike’s notes were turned into this guide book, that idea was adopted by the author.
None of the sections are longer than 14 miles, due to the way the accommodation is spaced along the route. The route involves a total of approximately 93 miles (150 km) with an overall height gain of around 15,000 feet (4,572 m). The longest section is the sixth, at 13½ miles (22 km) between Askrigg and Yockenthwaite. There are some exposed sections and good navigation skills are required if the high route option is taken over Whernside, on Day 2.
Getting to anywhere in the Yorkshire Dales typically requires a car, or a series of train and bus journeys. The Tributaries Walk however is well served by Settle train station, as it sits right on the route. Accommodation is plentiful in most overnight stops except one, where advance bookings should be made before departure. Campers may have to extend some days and divert uphill if you wish to wildcamp.
The second day from Ingleton to Dent offers plenty of route options, including an ascent of Yorkshire’s highest mountain, Whernside. The lower level, valley route through Kingsdale on the other hand, allows for a visit to Yordas Cave, the ancient home of a baby-eating giant.