OS grid reference:- SD 941 772
Buckden, a popular location with walkers, lies on the east bank of the River Wharfe at the northern end of stunning Wharfedale in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. The village is situated where Buckden Gill, which rises on Buckden Pike, joins the River Wharfe, in an area of classic rugged Dales countryside.
The earliest evidence of human habitation in the surrounding area dates back to the Bronze Age. The village's name derives from the Anglo-Saxon words of 'bucca', meaning he-goat and 'denu' which means valley.
The village of Buckden was established in the twelfth Century as the administrative centre for the hunting forest of Langstrothdale Chase. This was one of ten hunting forests in the Yorkshire Dales.
Langstrothdale Chase was controlled until 1534 by the influential Percy family, who became Earls of Northumberland in 1377. The entire dale north of Buckden was set aside for hunting. Formerly associated with hunting and the wild expanse of Langstrothdale Chase, Buckden was a staging post in the past for travellers venturing north up Langstrothdale or over Kidstones Pass into Bishopdale and Wensleydale to the north.
Buckden has a village shop, a residential outdoor education centre, the West Winds Tea Rooms and a pub, the picturesque ivy clad Buck Inn (pictured above left), the pub serves good food and offers bed and breakfast en-suite accommodation, which combines traditional features and modern facilities.
The George Hotel & Brasserie also provides good quality food and accommodation. The Parish Church of Church of St Michael and All Angels is located in the nearby hamlet of Hubberholme. The church is a Grade II listed building constructed in the twelfth Century with rebuilding work done from the sixteenth Century onwards.
The National Trust have a permanent exhibition at Town Head Barn in Buckden (pictured below left), the interesting exhibition reveals how the area has been shaped over the thousands of years since the last Ice Age. There is information on the local lead industry and more information on the history of Langstrothdale Chase.
Buckden Pike looms high above the village, the pike rises to 702 metres (2,303 feet) and narrowly misses out on being the highest peak in the area, the honour instead going to nearby Great Whernside (704 metres). Perhaps the easiest and shortest route up Buckden Pike is a bridleway from Buckden, although this is steep and boggy in parts. In the mid seventeenth century lead mining developed above Buckden, the remnants of which are still visible at the Buckden Gavel mine on the side of Buckden Pike.
There are excellent views from the summit of Buckden Pike. To the East is the ridge running from Little Whernside to the summit of Wharfedale's highest peak, Great Whernside. To the West are views into the heart of the Yorkshire Dales, including mountains such as The Yorkshire Three Peaks, as well as closer peaks such as Firth Fell and Yockenthwaite Moor.
A memorial cross with fragments of aircraft parts inbedded in its concrete base stands on the ridge just to the south of the summit trig point. The memorial was erected in memory of a plane crash that occured during the Second World War.
On the 30th January 1942 a Wellington bomber with a Polish aircrew of 6 men, which had flown from RAF Bramcote in Warwickshire on a training mission, crashed on the summit of Buckden Pike in a snowstorm. Only the rear gunner - Joseph Fusniak - survived the crash, following the tracks of a fox down from the Pike to the White Lion at Cray. In 1973, he decided to build the memorial to his fallen comrades.
Buckden Pike is the annual host to the Buckden Pike Fell Race, on the day of the village gala in June. The race was first run in 1981 on a course designed by Peter Jebb. In 1987, Peter altered the course to make it tougher and more interesting and it has remained unchanged ever since and this was the course on which the records were set. It has now become a classic race in the fell runners calendar and this is recognised by the fact that it is regularly selected as an English championship race.
The Dales Way Long Distance footpath passes close to the village, on the opposite bank of the River Wharfe. A footpath leads north-east from Buckden to the top of Buckden Pike, and another south-west to Litton, above Arncliffe, in Littondale.
Images courtesy of Paul Johnson
Towns and Villages of Yorkshire