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  • Writer's pictureGemma Bailey

Great Place Lakes and Dales: Yorkshire Dales walks

Walk One: Kettlewell to Starbotton Walk Two: Malham Walk Three: Grassington to Burnsall
I was excited to receive a funded commission from Great Place Lakes and Dales to develop my idea of ‘wellbeing walks’ around the Lakes and Dales. This project allowed me to expand the areas which I explore and to document my walks through my sketchbooks, culminating in a larger mixed media landscape painting. To help guide my walks, I found inspiration from the paintings in the collections at Craven Museum in Skipton. I hoped to follow in the footsteps of the many artists who have walked before me and found inspiration from the awe-inspiring landscapes they wandered through.
The first three walks for my commission were in the Yorkshire Dales and the first walk was inspired by the John Smith Atherton painting 'From the Garden, Hill Top, Starbotton’. This acrylic painting depicts a town on the banks of the river with a bridge and buildings in the background. The artist was known to work in a variety of media including oils,acrylics and watercolour and he often used scenes of both Yorkshire and Lancashire in his work.
I walked from Kettlewell to Starbotton and back on the ‘Paradise Walk’, named after the area you walk through, and it was approximately 4.5 miles. I began in the car park in Kettlewell, crossing the road bridge over the River Wharfe. I followed the clearly signposted footpath that pleasantly winds along beside the river. After around 45 minutes I came to a bridge that crossed the river and led towards Starbotton. Once in the village, a little exploration led to the very spot documented by Atherton in his painting. I even found a bicycle with a ‘Hilltop’ sign marking this special spot. I returned to Kettlewell along the opposite side of the valley through some woodland and plenty of fields, before the amazing sight of Kettlewell appeared below me.
The second walk of this series took me around the sights of the Yorkshire village of Malham. Inspired by two prints in the art collection at Craven Museum in Skipton (a colour print of Malham Cove by J.Griffith and a print of Gordale Scar taken from a sketch by Henry O’Hagan), I decided to explore Gordale Scar, Malham Tarn and Malham Cove on this 7.5 mile walk.
Starting at the National Parks centre in Malham, I turned left and crossed the river on the footbridge then turned right to follow the gravel path along the river. I kept following this path through the kissing gate and eventually went through a wood before reaching Janet’s Foss waterfall. I’ve had the pleasure of wild dipping here before and can definitely recommend it! Climbing the path to the left of the waterfall I came to the road and walked right until I saw the sign for Gordale Scar. Walking through the towering walls of rock feels immense! I finally reached another waterfall and stopped to make some sketches in this beautiful spot.
I then turned back through the valley where I came and on to the road again, before shortly turning right and up the hill following the sign for Malham Cove. This was a steep climb through fields until levelling out. I came to a sign for both the cove and Malham Tarn so headed right towards the tarn. After around ten minutes the beautiful sight came into view and I headed to the water's edge to paint. I then turned back to the road and followed the signs to Malham Cove, passing down through the awe-inspiring Watlowes gorge, at the end of which was the famous limestone pavement. Keeping to the right, I headed down the many stone steps to the bottom of the cove to do some more painting! Before following the winding path back down into Malham.
My third walk funded by Great Place Lakes and Dales led me from Grassington to Burnsall and was inspired by the watercolour painting ’Wharfe at Burnsall’ by Arthur Reginald Smith from Craven Museum’s art collection. I began at the National Parks car park and headed down to the River Wharfe by the gate at the left hand corner of the car park. Just before the bridge that crosses the river, I turned left along the footpath and walked parallel to the river for around 30 minutes before coming to a narrow bridge and some stepping stones. I hopped across the stones to the opposite side of the river and continued my riverside walk before reaching Loop Scar and my favourite place for wild swimming! After a little paddle I continued the walk towards Burnsall village, passing beneath the old bridge. After devouring a well-deserved ice cream, I returned to Grassington along the same route.

You can see many more paintings inspired by the lakes & dales on display at Craven museum and even better, you can get outdoors and create your own!


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