Jonathan Smith runs Where2walk, a walking company in the Yorkshire Dales. Jonathan has written his own book, the Dales 30 which details the highest mountains in the Dales. He also runs one-day navigation courses for beginners and intermediates. Join his Learn a Skill, Climb a Hill weekends in the Dales. To find out more details on any of the above visit his website,

THE dispute as to the most remote spot in England has never been resolved, with candidates in Kielder Forest, near Cross Fell and Riggs Moor near (well not really!) Grassington.

It was the latter I headed off to and it provided an excellent walk with a purpose.

I parked next to the bridge over the River Wharfe at Conistone, a lovely hamlet.

Start by taking a walk up the Conistone Dib, found just past a small green and attractive cottages east of the stables.

The dib is a fine example of a dry limestone valley. Starting off through some awkward rocky steps the dib opens up at Gurling Trough in to easy walking on a grassy path before a steep rock scramble completes the valley. It is an atmospheric place.

On emerging from the dib join the Dalesway, walk for a few metres to your left through two gates to a cross roads of paths. Turn right and head east on a major track.

Almost immediately on your left is one of the finest examples of limestone pavements in the Dales. Do not be distracted for long because this is where the miles start.

For the next two-and-a-half miles follow ‘Bycliffe Road’ bridlepath initially uphill and east but then entering the vast wetland basin of Bycliffe. The track heads north east past the caves of Mossdale Scar, the scene of a tragedy in 1967 when six cavers were trapped and died.

The track runs on to the shooting house at Mossdale. It’s a wonderful place for a picnic.

The easy walking so far is now replaced by rougher and largely trackless ground. I varied this part of the walk by heading south east uphill past some shooting butts to a fence on the ridge top, half a mile distant.

Due to the existence of the butts there is a rough path leading up which helps! Do not be fooled in to thinking that there is a tarn here (the O/S map shows a large tarn, Priests) but this barely exists even after rain. It can only be a consequence of some of the local land management practices.

On meeting the fence turn left and climb for half a mile to a fence junction, turn left towards the bulk of Great Whernside, and continue a long wild moorland for a further three quarters of a mile along the fence to a boggy area where the direct bridlepath (your return route) meets Sandy Gate (a stile!).

From here the fence continues north, climbing slightly.

After 150m a boundary stone appears on the east side of the fence and at another 150 metres a small pile of stones appears, set proudly on a peat hag. Surely this is it! Looking at the distance to the nearest point of access it may be a few metres north and east of here but it was good enough for me, the remotest spot in England. It is right on the border of the National Park and Nidderdale.

From here return to Sandy Gate and join the bridleway heading back to the shooting house.

The path is difficult to follow in places but helped by a few blue painted poles.

Losing the path is not a disaster though, just drop down to the river bank and turn left. The return from here is via the same two-and-a-half mile track before arriving at the Dalesway. Enjoy the birds on the wetlands including the bark of curlews, very satisfying.

Rather than head down the rocky dib to Conistone stick to the main track to the north, it’s easier after such a long walk.

Fact File:

Distance: Roughly 11.5 miles

Height to Climb: 480m (1,580 feet)

Start: SD 978675. There is parking on the bridge leading to Conistone..

Difficulty: Hard and long. The walk to Mossdale is on a good track but the moorland above is remote and awkward.

Refreshments: Either the Kilnsey Trout Farm café or the Tenants Arms hotel.