When the short days of winter prevent long walks, short strolls can be really enjoyable — especially if the route is full of scenery, history and natural history.
For my first stroll of 2012 I went to West Burton, in the Yorkshire Dales.
From the Fox and Hounds pub turn right and pass the school and West Burton House. Follow an obvious track towards a farm.
A track which is obvious and very stony which makes it easy to walk on cold winter’s days. Head towards a farm and then swing left.
The winding track then leads right and then left. The route now reaches a iet lane.
Turn right at this lane and look for a gap in a wall where there is a footpath sign indicating Cote Bridge half a mile. Follow the route through a field and descend to a solid bank.
Turn left at another footpath sign and cross a footbridge over Walden Beck.
The route now bears to the left and here I had a pleasant surprise. I found a splendid growth of a fascinating plant called horsetail.
Although horsetails do have some distant relationship with ferns, they are placed in their own family of plants called Equiseteceae.
The name comes from the fact that the plant does look like the tail of a horse.
During the Carboniferous period 300 million years ago horsetails would have been the dominant vegetation in the world.
At the end of the stem, which can be up to five feet high, is a cone like structure called the Strobilus, inside which the reproductive spores are produced.
Long ago some horsetails, now found as fossils, grew to a height of more than 100 feet.
Follow an obvious footpath sign indicating Riddings. Cross a ladder stile over a stone wall. Follow the route through a field keeping the wall on the left.
Continue to follow the Riddings footpath which is undulating.
Turn left and through a gate through a wall.
To the left of a barn drop down to the left to reach a set of steps to West Burton Falls.
Regular readers of this column will be aware of my love of waterfalls and I must admit that this was the first time that I had done this walk.
My first view of these falls was a real joy and it did not take me long to realise what I had been missing.
I spent some time at the falls which were in full spate following the recent rain (not to mention the winds) and there was spray everywhere.
I then followed the obvious footpath through West Burton and to reach the starting point.
was ready to enjoy my flask of soup and watch the sleet being whirled about.
How to get there
From East Lancashire travel to Settle and then take a right turn to reach Ribblehead. From Ribblehead turn right onto the road to Hawes.
West Burton lies off the A684 road which links Hawes with Leyburn. For Aysgarth follow the B6160 and look out for a turn off to West Burton. There is plenty of parking aroundthe very large village green.
Distance: 1½ miles