GRASSINGTON Moor was the centre of Wharfedale lead mining in the 19th century but today the only people heading underground are cavers exploring the vast network of underground caverns. The walk over the moors has many reminders of both activities.

There is some parking at the road end at the farmstead of Yarnbury, north of Grassington. From here follow the lane north for half a mile as it drops down towards a stream. Just before the stream take the footpath to your right that links the track with a second, mining track only 100 metres away.

Climb towards the mine workings. Almost immediately there is a sign to the right indicating a side path leading through the mine workings. The path is definitely worth following, taking you to old mine buildings, the chimney, its flue and the local man made reservoir. All of this is well described in a series of small notice boards, you will leave the area with much more knowledge than when you entered!

The main period of prosperous mining was between 1820 and 1870, during which over 20,000 tonnes of lead were mined, employing up to 200 people. The lead began to run out and cheaper imports from abroad (Spain in particular) killed the industry and Grassington itself saw its population decline by 400 by the end of the century.

Return to the main mining track and head gradually uphill through spoil heaps in a northerly direction. This is open country and the track carries on for nearly two miles, gradually bending to the left and skirting the highest points of the hills ahead, until it drops sharply to a river, in the valley of Mossdale.

When meeting the track going through Mossdale, turn right and walk for 200 metres to Mossdale Scar. Here is the entrance to the Mossdale caving system and the location for a tragic accident in 1967 when six young cavers died. They were experienced but on exploring too far, the water rose, they became trapped and died. It is a melancholy spot.

Turn round here and return south east on a good track across an easily flooded watershed. Two hundred metres after a gate a footpath leads off to your left and winds its way through a fence and along the open moors. The path is heading south and crosses through two more gates until it reaches a lane which you can then follow back to Yarnbury.

This is an area which still has old mine entrances and is very exposed to any bad weather. It makes one ponder the harsh conditions that some of these miners (and today's sheep farmers) work in.

There is a large trig point as you arrive at Yarnbury on the left hand side, marking the edge of Grassington Moor and providing great views over Lower Wharfedale.

Fact Box:

Distance: Roughly seven miles

Height to Climb: 280m (920 feet)

Start: SE 015659. There is parking for about eight to 10 cars at Yarnbury.

Difficulty: Medium. Mainly on excellent old mine tracks, the return is on a footpath which can become muddy after rain.

Refreshments: It is nearly one-and-a-half miles to the centre of Grassington with pubs and cafes.

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.

* Jonathan Smith runs Where2walk, a walking company in the Yorkshire Dales. He has published 2 books on walks in the Dales, The Yorkshire 3 Peaks and The Dales 30 mountains.