Kirkby Wharfe and Ulleskelf
A quiet walk along the banks of the River Wharfe to Kirkby Wharfe and Ulleskelf: almost 9 miles and very flat. The route can be shortened to 6 miles by visiting just Kirkby Wharfe. Kirkby Wharfe is an interesting old village, Ulleskelf has a nice pub.
Outline route map
DOWNLOAD a Print Version of the route
The view of Kirkby Wharfe church
Head towards the far gate for Kirkby Wharfe
The Kirkby Wharfe graveyard contains war graves.
St John the Baptist church in Kirkby Wharfe.
You may meet some cows ...
We hope you had an enjoyable walk.
The Route Described
The route starts at the Walking Roundel in Tadcaster Bus Station, turn left past the Britannia pub and cross the Tadcaster Bridge. This bridge was built around 1700, and although it looks like one bridge, later additions made two bridges side-by-side, the roadway on top being joined as one. The Bridge, a key crossing point of the River Wharfe, was the centre of the Battle of Tadcaster during the Civil War in 1642 and a skirmish in 1643 which led to the Battle of Seacroft Moor. It is thought that the rout following the Battle of Towton in 1461 resulted in many Lancastrians being killed on and around Tadcaster Bridge.
Once over the bridge, turn left and follow the public footpath past Tadcaster Albion football ground.
Keeping the river on the left, pass under the A64 and on to a footbridge at the sluice controlling the confluence with Cock Beck. This is a low flat area, now fields, but at one time was covered by water. In 1066, on his way to the Battle of Stamford Bridge, King Harold met his navy at Tadcaster. Centuries later the stone used for York Minster was shipped from the quarries in Stutton to York by boat. In the field to the right, the river embankments half-cover the remains of Kettleman Bridge. This is usually hard to see in the summer due to trees and undergrowth. Kettleman Bridge is a medieval bridge with Roman stonework and once carried the London road from the Ferrybridge over Cock Beck. As this bridge is nearly completely buried, it indicates how much lower this area was in the past.
As the walk continues you may spot the remnants of an old barge, overgrown and stuck against the riverbank. At one time barges navigated the River Wharfe up to Tadcaster. On this quite stretch of the river, look out for herons, various varieties of duck, swans, otters and kingfishers.
Keep an eye out for another sluice gate: the North Ings Outflow. Soon the SHORT ROUTE diverges off to the right. After two kissing gates cross the field diagonally to find 2 gates on to a lane that leads up past the Victoria Memorial Cottages. To continue on the SHORT ROUTE skip to the description of Kirkby Wharfe.
To follow the LONG ROUTE, the path continues along the riverbank. Eventually it passes under a railway bridge. The bridge here carried the York and North Midlands Railway across the Wharfe. Begun in 1836, this line was part of the George Hudson empire connecting the North with London. Of course the bridge has been substantially rebuilt since then !.
After the bridge you can continue on the riverbank to Ulleskelf or there is a short-cut that goes diagonally across the fields to the village. Alternatively, you can continue walking along the riverbank. The River Wharfe is tidal up to this point, though in high water the effect can be seen as far up as Tadcaster. It's hard to imagine the tide reaching this point when you consider the sea is nearly 60 miles away at Spurn Point.
Enter Ulleskelf on Ings Lane, turn right and follow Main St through the village past the Village Hall and shop. Ulleskelf, a name of Scandinavian origin, is an ancient settlement, but there is nothing remaining of any age. The village is principally associated with the station which opened in 1839, though it is now poorly served by trains. The Ulleskelf Arms, situated next to the railway bridge, if a pleasant pub. Cross the bridge, on the right there are some steps that led down to Railway Cottages. Pass these a follow the Private Road , go over a beck, through the gate and bear left along the footpath across the fields. Head for Kirby Wharfe across four fields. When a fence appears keep it on your left. There are three more fields and some telegraph poles to follow to the lane at Kirkby Wharfe.
The Ings are often covered in water when the river is in flood !.
The LONG and SHORT ROUTES now combine. You enter Kirkby Wharfe, a very quiet and pleasant village, along the lane that leads past the Victoria Memorial Cottages. These houses were built to celebrate Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee in 1897 by the Fielden family, owners of nearby Grimston Park at that time. This lane leads round to the green, turn right to visit the church, and left to walk down the road to the quiet Extension Graveyard which contains War Graves for airmen based at Church Fenton airfield, a few miles way.
The church of St John the Baptist has Anglo-Saxon origins, but it is largely a medieval church renovated in Victorian times. There are two windows of medieval glass. Outside the churchyard is an ancient cross of probable Anglo-Saxon origin as it's carvings are linked to similar carvings at churches along Wharfedale, the Ilkley crosses.
Here is a 3D-model of the church.
Both LONG and SHORT ROUTES now RETURN to Tadcaster by retracing one's steps back to the riverbank, then turn left and follow the river upstream to Tadcaster. Pause somewhere in one of Tadcaster's many hostelries or tea shops before returning to the Bus Station and Car Park.
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