ENJOY some excellent views over the Aire Valley in a varied walk from Gargrave.

It is possible to start and finish in Skipton, but it is more convenient and easier from Gargrave, the canal side return a pleasure at the end of the walk.

Start at a small car park in Gargrave near the canal. Cross the canal, turn immediately right and join the Eshton Road leaving the village via a path next to the road. On the left is, a fine country house (Eshton Hall) perched on the hillside with sweeping gardens leading down to the road. It has now been converted in to apartments but the views towards the house are still very impressive.

One hundred metres after the road crosses Eshton Beck, a footpath leads off to the right in to the grounds of another old country house, Flasby Hall. The path passes through farmland before a short climb and descent brings you to the small settlement of Flasby. On entering the attractive hamlet, just next to the hall gates, cross the river and turn right after 50 metres on a track leading through a farm.

The track climbs for 200 metres before bending south east, past some more farm buildings, through two gates and into some woodland. The rhododendrons have been superb in the past on the path climbing through the woods, but many have now been chopped back, wait till June to find the result.

The next stage of the walk follows a wide forest track which has improved immeasurably over the last few years. The views over Airedale to the west are impressive with Pendle Hill clearly seen in the distance. The higher ground to the left is Sharp Haw, of more than 1,000 feet. The pointy summit is a feature of the views from Skipton.

After one mile the forest track bends to the left and 200 metres later sharply north. Take the path through a stile in the wall and head across open fields in an east and then south east direction (use the boundary stiles as a marker to aim for as there is no path on the ground). Some buildings appear after half a mile, this is Tarn House. Turn right on to the road and head downhill to Stirton, turn right and in to Thorlby. Carry on the right fork till you come to the A65.

Cross the A65 and follow the footpath to the canal and a small bridge. Cross the bridge and turn right on to the tow path which continues for two miles back to Gargrave.

The walking alongside the canal is very pleasant. This is part of the 127 mile-long Leeds Liverpool canal and even at this time of the year there are plenty of boats on the water. Pass the lock where the canal goes under the A65 but continue on the tow path to the first of the houses that mark the return to Gargrave.

Fact box:

Distance: Roughly 9 miles.

Height to Climb: 220m (720 feet).

Start: SD 932543. There is some free parking near the canal (behind the Dalesman café).

Difficulty: Medium. The fields near Flasby and Tarn House are a little rough and the path is indistinct in places but the remainder of the walk is easy on good paths, tracks or quiet roads.

Refreshments: There are two pubs in Gargrave and the excellent Dalesman cafe.

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. Please observe the Countryside Code and park sensibly.

Jonathan runs Where2walk, a walking company based in the Yorkshire Dales:

• He has published 3 books on walks in the Dales; ‘The Yorkshire 3 Peaks’, ‘The Dales 30’ mountains and the New ‘Walks without Stiles’ book.

• All (and more) are available direct from the Where2walk website.

• Book a Navigation Training day in Long Preston (Two Levels: Beginners or ‘Hill Skills’) First Available Date is May 13.

Where2walk.co.uk also features 100’s of walks across Yorkshire and beyond, from easy strolls to harder climbs.