OXENBER Wood, near Austwick, is one of the best places to view wild flowers. In particular, the spectacular display of bluebells in late spring (usually May).

Oxenber Woods sits on a small hill of exposed limestone bringing out the very best in wild flowers. The views aren't half bad as well.

I parked on the road in to Austwick from the A65, opposite the Traddock Hotel. Return towards the A65 and just across the stream, turn left in to Wood Lane. Follow the lane through fields of sheep for nearly half a mile until there is a meeting of lanes.

Turn right (signed Feizor) and continue past a house on your right to a stile. Climb the stile on your left and continue along the fields for 300m to a gate on your left. It is easy to see because of an information sign over the gate which marks the entrance to Oxenber Wood. The footpath itself continues to Feizor and the excellent Elaine’s Tea Rooms if tempted. It’s a mile and a half extra.

However, this walk goes through the gate and enters Oxenber Wood. The path climbs up the hillside steadily from the information board. It is on the side of the hillside that the bluebells (and other wild flowers) are at their best.

I went last week (end April) and the bluebells were just starting and not as spectacular as I have seen later in May. The cooler spring has also delayed them. However, the primroses and wood anemones were superb, a carpet of yellow flowers.

The wild flowers are so good here due to a combination of the limestone bedrock (exposed in places), ancient woodland and the grazing of some cattle and sheep. In addition the hill is designated a Site of Special Scientific Significance allowing conservation of the area to be a priority.

The path soon reaches the higher plateau of Oxenber Hill. Here the flowers are less but the views improve. The outlook is down Crummockdale, possibly the best of all the Dales. Ingleborough stands out in the distance, while nearer to the north are the rock strewn slopes of the Norber Erratics. It is easy to spot the pebbled slopes even from a one and a half mile distance.

Nearer is the lovely hamlet of Wharfe nestling in the dales bottom. Where the path on the summit divides follow the left fork which soon drops down the hillside to a second information board and the exit of the conservation area.

Turn left at the board and continue through a gate and alongside a wall to meet Wood Lane Track. Rather than follow the lane, climb the stile opposite and follow a path due west through a field of sheep (and lambs).

After 300m rejoin the lane at Austwick Beck, a pleasant spot with a bench to enjoy the running water. The track continues to the road at the east end of Austwick. Turn left through the village. It is one of my favourite villages in the Yorkshire Dales, beautiful stone houses, school, pub (and an excellent patisserie), some craft shops and even someone selling marmalade and pickles.

Fact Box:

Distance: Roughly 2.5 miles.

Height to Climb: 120m (395 feet)

Start: SD 769683. Roadside parking opposite the Traddock on the route in from the A65.

Difficulty: Easy. Apart from the climb in the woods the walk is flat along good paths and farm tracks.

Refreshments: The Game Cock in Austwick has a good bar and fine patisserie. The Traddock is a lovely country house for afternoon tea.

Be prepared: The route description and sketch map only provide a guide to the walk. You must take out and be able to read a map (O/S Explorer OL2) and in cloudy/misty conditions a compass. You must also wear the correct clothing and footwear for the outdoors. Whilst every effort is made to provide accurate information, walkers head out at their own risk.

Please observe the Countryside Code and park sensibly.

Jonathan runs Where2walk, a walking company based in the Yorkshire Dales:

• He has published 3 books on walks in the Dales; ‘The Yorkshire 3 Peaks’, ‘The Dales 30’ mountains and the New ‘Walks without Stiles’ book.

• All (and more) are available direct from the Where2walk website.

• Book a Navigation Training day in Long Preston (Two Levels: Beginners or ‘Hill Skills’) First Available Date is May 13.

Where2walk.co.uk also features 100’s of walks across Yorkshire and beyond, from easy strolls to harder climbs.