I have enjoyed this walk for more than 40 years because friends of my wife have lived in and around Dent for generations. This is also a walk for all seasons and is a joy in early spring so now is the time to plan the walk.
How to get there...
Most visitors approach Dent from Sedbergh via a minor road off the A684. There is, however, access from Ingleton (which is on the A65 from Kendal towards Skipton) or from the A684 at Garsdale Head. Starting point: pay and display car park, grid reference 703 870.
Map: OS Explorer OL2
Distance: 5 miles
Time: allow three hours because this is a stroll rather than a walk.
Walk 1 From the car park turn left into Dent, which is not so much a town as a small village, but was named long ago when it was quite rightly known as ‘the Capital of Dentdale’. The historic settlement was made up of a cluster of cottages and small farms. Continue along the cobbled and narrow main street with old Inns and quaint cottages. On the left there is a granite slab into which is built a fountain. This is a memorial to the Dent born scientist Adam Sedgwick (1785-1873). This really was a case of a local lad made good because he became the first professor of geology at Cambridge. He was inspired by the local scenery and is regarded as the father of English Geology. From the fountain turn left to enter the church of St Andrew. This dates to around 1080 and inside is some fine Norman stonework. There are some magnificent box pews dating to the 17th Century. Be sure to look carefully at the marble floor which is full of fossils and must have inspired the young Sedgwick. Close to the church is the old grammar school which is now a private residence. From the church exit, turn left and descend a set of steps and then turn left to reach Church Bridge over the River Dee.
2 Do not cross the bridge but look out for a narrow stile and a signpost leading left and indicating Barth Bridge (1 mile). To the left over the fields are splendid views of the church. Cross a footbridge over a tributary stream but always keep the main river to the right. The path eases gently left and passes through a number of dog-friendly stiles. After about half a mile approach a large metal gate. Turn sharp left and then sharp right along a minor road. In less than 100 yards there is a seat and another metal gate to the right. Pass through this gate and follow an obvious field path through a number of well maintained gates and stiles. The road then bears left away from the river but which can still be seen away on the right. Pass through a gate and over a small footbridge and approach Barth Bridge.
3 Barth Bridge is reached via a substantial set of wooden steps. Do not cross this bridge but pass over a minor road and follow the signs straight ahead to Ellers (one mile). Ellers means the land by the water which is a very accurate description of the area. Descend another flight of wooden steps and the river Dee is still on the right. To the left is the impressive bulk of Combe Scar which is a grouse moor but also the site of old limestone quarries. It was a study area for Adam Sedgwick.
4 Approach a lane which is used by a farm called Dillicar. Continue along this and look out for a footbridge and a ford over another tributary of the Dee. Turn left here and cross a stile. Bear right to Bower Bank and above is the massive 2,419 ft (737 metres) of Whernside.
5 The obvious footpath soon becomes a more substantial track and leads into the pretty little hamlet of Ganthrop. Cross a bridge and at a T Junction turn right to Mill Beck.
6 From Mill Beck follow an obvious track for about 300 yards and then back to the starting point.
NB: Restrictions on space mean that this article provides a general summary of the route. It is advisable for anyone who plans to follow the walk to take a copy of the relevant Ordnance Survey map.