There was plenty of mellow fruitfulness about during this fine walk, undertaken on a glorious autumn day that took us all by surprise in the middle of the last week of October.

The massed berries on the leafless hawthorns on the moor edge glowed richly in the sun. Alongside the lane the heads of black fruit hung heavily from the branches of the elder bushes.

Unfortunately, the other half of Keats' poetic seasonal pairing was also present the mist. A heat haze covered the distant landscape, which was something of a shame because my route took me over high ground that offered some panoramic views.

It was one of those walks which make you realise how much you can see travelling on foot that you miss if you go everywhere by car, whether it be open spaces of moorlands tops or secret hidden valleys.

The destination, as I set out from the end of a narrow lane just above Threshfield, was a tiny place called Bordley not a village, not even a hamlet, just a couple of farms in the middle of nowhere.

Well, not exactly nowhere. It's about halfway between the busy centres of Malham and Grassington as the crow flies (or as the boots treads), but it's a world away from the Dales tourist trail.

I reached it by striking up first of all on to moorland dotted with the remains of this area's mining past: the spoil heaps and bellpits, and next to one of them a rusting cog wheel that once helped to drive the winching gear.

It's an odd feeling, wandering past these reminders that this silent place, empty now except for a few wary sheep, used to bustle with industrial activity.

The pits provided jobs for men from the valley villages and made vast fortunes for the mine owners.

The moors still make money, of course. But now it is through fingers pulling triggers rather than arms swinging picks. On this day, though, the grouse butts were deserted and silent. The only shots were occasional distant ones from quarry blasting.

This walk bridges the gap between gritstone and limestone, and nowhere was this more obvious than when I followed a walled lane along the moorside: the walls gritstone grey, the outcrop on the hill ahead glinting limestone white in the sun.

As my path descended, the cluster of buildings of Bordley came into view ahead, with the pretty valley containing Bordley Beck to my left a magical, tucked-away place housing the farm buildings of Bordley Hall.

Only tracks reached this hidden place. No roads run anywhere near it. The return route was through typical limestone landscape, climbing steeply at first before descending, steadily passing more relics of the area's industrial past (including a splendid lime kiln) before going through scrubby hawthorn woodland to a caravan site.

From here, it wasn't far to a quiet road and then the narrow, tree-lined lane that led me back to the start.

Step by Step

  1. Start at top of Moor Lane, left off main road from Skipton just above Threshfield Bridge. Walk up lane and through path on to moor, taking bridleway fork to right. At next fork keep left on main track. Go through gate in fence and continue along track, passing spoil heaps. Where track divides around one of these mounds, go left on main distinct route.
  2. Where track meets a line of grouse butts, look for signposted path forking left across boggy land to gate in wall. Turn right before gate (signposted Malham Moor Lane) and walk up with wall on left to join walled track. Keep along this to a point where two gates face each other on either side of track. Go through left gate and half right across field to ladder stile. Cross stile and go straight ahead, crossing small beck and continuing to meet facing wall.
  3. Turn right there and follow wallside to first climb slightly then descend to gate in wall. Through this, keep ahead briefly then join track veering left to descend in direction of distant houses of Bordley. Turn right and head for Bordley, passing plantation. Track is clear enough up to farm gate.
  4. Go right, through gate, and up towards Bordley House Farm. Pass through gates between outbuildings then turn right to climb past front of farm (following sign to Kilnsey Moor). Through gate, follow Threshfield sign to right, with wall on right, to bottom corner of field. Turn left and walk on for 15 yards, looking for wall stile on right. Over stile, climb field ahead. Keep straight ahead when wall to right swings away from path. Cross a couple of broken walls and reach short stretch of walled lane. Go over ladder stile at start of this and cross narrow field to another ladder stile. Keep ahead to step stile. Go slightly left on faint path, looking for barn in bottom corner of field. Look for stile to right of barn. Cross it and walk over two parallel lanes ahead to another stile. Continue down field with wall on right towards another barn, looking for stile in right-hand corner before it.
  5. Over this stile, walk down to pass barn and go through gate ahead to climb walled lane, looking for footpath sign by gate on left. Go through gate and walk down field to right of wall. When wall veers away, follow marker posts to pass to left of defunct stile and keep on to pass deserted farmhouse (now a barn) to stile into sparse woodland.
  6. Veer right and follow waymarked green path through scattered trees to eventually cross Rowley Beck and enter caravan site. Walk on through site to pass farm and go down access track to road. Turn right along road. When road swings sharp left, go up track ahead to pass houses and continue back to start.

Fact File

  • Time: 2 hours for around six miles.
  • Going: reasonably easy.
  • Map: OS Outdoors Leisure 10, Yorkshire Dales South.
  • Parking: Drive from Skipton towards Grassington. Pass quarry and Linton turn-off and keep ahead towards Threshfield. Turn left up narrow lane (Moor Lane on map) just before road starts to descend to Threshfield Bridge. Drive up lane to where another lane joins it from right and park just beyond junction.
  • Toilets and refreshments: none on the route.