BIRKS Fell is a long, broad ridge bordering the west side of Upper Wharfedale. The steep sides betray what is in fact straight forward walking on the long summit ridge - which include spectacular views. Do note the trig point does not mark the highest point which is a mile further on. It is one of the lesser visited ‘Dales 30’ mountains.

The walk starts with a riverside amble. Cross the road bridge at Buckden and turn left following the Dales Way for two miles along a well-used path next to or near the river. Look out for the herons on the mud flats and other wildlife before reaching the bridge opposite the village of Starbotton. Do not cross the river to the village (unless you want to pop up the lane and visit this lovely village) and take the track heading south heading towards the steep slopes of the mountain. After crossing a field the path starts to climb towards some woods. This is a bridlepath and therefore has gates not stiles which does make the going easier.

The steepest section through the woods is soon completed, the route turns right soon after leaving the woods and continues to climb (a little less steeply) on open hillside to a wall. Follow this wall to the high point of the shoulder and turn right on a less obvious path along the shoulder. in a north westerly direction.

The bridle path itself continues down the far side of Birks into Littondale. Follow the footpath next to the wall for a mile. Where a second wall come in from the left, cross ‘your wall’ at a stile and then continue to follow a path through the rough ground north west. If the weather is poor keep the wall in site to your left, using it as a handrail. After half a mile arrive at a trig point with superb views, a great panorama of mountains and dales including good views of the three peaks.

However, this is not the highest point of Birks (trig points do not necessarily mean the highest point), the highest point is nearly a mile along the ridge marked by a pile of stones to the right, east of the wall. Those wishing to complete the “Dales 30” mountains will need to do this. The “Dales 30” are the mountains in the Yorkshire and Cumbrian Dales of over 2,000ft high, a great challenge that takes you to some of the least visited and most interesting parts of the Dales.

Just before re-arriving at the trig a paved path next to a broken wall on your left marks the start of the descent. This intermittent path gradually descends the vast slopes of Birks with excellent views of Upper Wharfedale.

At a stream and wall on the lower slopes turn left and join a lane leading past a farm and on to the road near the village of Buckden. At the road turn right and follow the road over the River Wharfe and into Buckden village.

Fact box

Distance: Roughly 9.5 miles

Height to Climb: 430m (1,410 feet)

Start: SD 942772. There is a large National Park car park in Buckden.

Difficulty: Hard. More for the climb than the walking on the summit ridge which is generally very easy (unless after heavy rains).

Refreshments: The Buck Inn is a traditional, friendly pub in Buckden. There is also a café.

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 OL30) 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 is the owner of Where2walk, a walking company based in the Yorkshire Dales:

• He has written 3 books on walking in the Dales; ‘The Yorkshire 3 Peaks’, ‘The Dales 30’ mountains and the ‘Walks without Stiles’ book. All these books (and more) are available direct from the Where2walk website.

• Book a Navigation (Map and Compass Skills) Training day near Settle or a bespoke day for a private group. The next available course is on Saturday August 31st.

• Join our “Dales 30” Weekender in Sedbergh or “3 Peaks in 3 Days” guided walks in September. also features 100’s of walks across Yorkshire and beyond, from easy strolls to harder climbs. Visit the website for details of the walks, guiding days and navigation courses.