Walking the Wharfe

An ode to a Yorkshire river

by Johno Ellison 

Walking the Wharfe – an enchanting travel memoir retracing the steps of a Victorian writer by walking the length of one of the Yorkshire Dales’ best-known rivers. In this love letter to the waterway that flowed through the author’s childhood into his adult life, Johno Ellison reveals a microcosm of English culture, landscape and history.

Published:  10th Aug 2023
Size:  130 X 198 mm
Edition:  1
Number of pages:  224
Format AvailableQuantityPrice
ISBN: 9781804691106
In stock
£9.99 £8.99
eBook (ePUB)
ISBN: 9781804692127
£7.99 £7.19

About this book

In a world of globetrotting explorers and record-breaking journeys – of which he has been part himself – Johno Ellison decided to return to his roots and walk the entire length of the River Wharfe, the Yorkshire waterway beside which he grew up. In his new book for Bradt, Walking the Wharfe, Ellison retraces the steps of Victorian author Edmund Bogg to investigate how the riverscape and its communities have evolved during the intervening 120 years. While wild camping, meeting modern-day Vikings, wartime ghosts and the fearless ‘Dales Dippers’, and learning how not to deal with a herd of over-inquisitive cows, Ellison encounters a microcosm of English history and culture.
Starting in the Vale of York, Ellison walks upstream to explore the region’s Viking and Roman heritage, as well as more modern developments such as Tadcaster’s disastrous bridge collapse in 2015. He examines a profusion of Victorian spa towns, considers the impact of the Industrial Revolution and enjoys rare wildlife such as red kites and an otter, creatures that have returned to the area following successful conservation initiatives.
Traversing the Yorkshire Dales National Park, including along the Dales Way long-distance footpath, Ellison is first bewitched by local legends of giants, trolls and witches, then seduced into wild swimming in a chilly river – albeit not the Strid, a section of the Wharfe notorious worldwide for reportedly drowning everyone who has ever tumbled into it – before seeking refuge in a candlelit pub during a storm that caused a power blackout. During his ascent, Ellison learns from a family who have farmed the Yorkshire hills for five generations before reaching the Wharfe’s trickling source amid a vast boggy moorland.
This enchanting travelogue is a must-read for anyone interested in nature, ‘the great outdoors’, or English history and culture. Residents and fans of Yorkshire will love it, as will anyone who has hiked the Dales Way. Above all, by combining personal connections with journalistic curiosity and a nose for a story, Walking the Wharfe affirms that even lesser-known parts of the small island of Britain can hold their own against renowned tourist sites the world over.

Before ordering ebooks from us, please check out our ebook information.

About the Author

Johno Ellison grew up in the village of Boston Spa on the River Wharfe in Yorkshire, UK, and developed a particular fascination with the waterway. He spent his childhood exploring the riverbanks of Lower Wharfedale, plus the hills and valleys upstream. Ellison briefly worked in one of Wetherby’s many pubs – also near the river – before joining the Royal Air Force to train as helicopter pilot at RAF Church Fenton, just a stone’s throw from the water. He has subsequently walked the River Wharfe multiple times. He has visited more than 80 countries and once travelled around the world in a vintage London black cab, setting Guinness World Records for the Longest and the Highest Taxi Journey Ever – an adventure captured in his book It’s on the meter. Ellison currently lives in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, with his wife Lindsay – who he met in a small village beside the River Wharfe.


“In Walking the Wharfe, Johno Ellison shows that adventure is very much a state of mind, uncovering interesting tales and tackling challenges in his own backyard.” – Ed Stafford, author, Walking the Amazon

“A fascinating exploration of a beautiful corner of England. Johno Ellison writes a poetic love letter to the river of his roots with this enchanting walk along one of the country’s hidden gems.” – Alastair Humphreys, author and adventurer

Additional Information

Table of Contents

Preface Bogg’s Book
Chapter1 75,000 Gallons of Ale
Cawood to Ryther
Chapter 2 Fenton Jumping
Ryther to Ozendyke
Chapter 3 The Great Heathen Army
Ozendyke to Kirkby Wharfe
Chapter 4 A Town Divided
Kirkby Wharfe to Tadcaster
Chapter 5 ‘I don’t knaw owt aboot t’ Romans’
Tadcaster to Thorp Arch
Chapter 6 ‘Nothing more beautiful and truly English can be imagined’
Thorp Arch to Boston Spa
Chapter 7 ‘He loves every human being, ‘cept other dogs’
Boston Spa to Wetherby
Chapter 8 The Best Pub in Yorkshire
Wetherby to Linton
Chapter 9 ‘Avoid this place as you would a plague’
Linton to Netherby Deep
Chapter 10 Beware, Rombald’s Wife
Netherby Deep to Rougemont
Chapter 11 ‘T’Owd Chief’
Rougemont to Pool Bank
Chapter 12 Hannibal Crossing the Chevin
Pool Bank to Farnley
Chapter 13 A Friend of the Navvies
Farnley to Otley
Chapter 14 ‘Ow Much?!
Otley to Burley-in-Wharfedale
Chapter 15 All Along the Ilkley Moor
Burley-in-Wharfedale to Ilkley
Chapter 16 A Prize-winning Heifer
Ilkley to Addingham
Chapter 17 England’s Killer Creek
Addingham to the Strid
Chapter 18 Of Trolls and Wolves
The Strid to Appletreewick
Chapter 19 Maypoles and Hogbacks
Appletreewick to Loup Scar
Chapter 20 The Dancing Reverend
Loup Scar to Ghaistrill’s Strid
Chapter 21 Dane’s Blood and Kilnsey Nan
Ghaistrill’s Strid to Littondale
Chapter 22 Wartime Ghosts
Littondale to Kettlewell
Chapter 23 The Beast of Buckden
Kettlewell to Hubberholme
Chapter 24 Giant’s Grave
Hubberholme to Nethergill
Chapter 25 ‘Child of the clouds’
Nethergill to Cam Fell
Chapter 26 ‘Adieu to hills, glens and river’?
Wharfe’s Mouth to the source
About the Author