St. Mary's Churchyard and Church, Kettlewell, N Yorkshire
In the heart of the Yorkshire Dales National Park, the village of Kettlewell draws both walkers (some on the Dales Way long-distance footpath which passes through the village) and those who simply wish to stay amidst the beauty of creation. The site of St Mary’s church, in the centre of the village, has been a sanctuary of peace and tranquillity for over 800 years. Lying beneath the slopes of Great Whernside it remains a place of welcome for all.
There is a sense of stillness within the walls of the church where pilgrims can sit awhile or place a pebble in the pebble pool – an offering of prayer for oneself or others. Visitors to the church often leave simple words of thanks in the visitors’ book.
Set amidst the fells and with its own magnificent trees and wildflower meadow, the churchyard is a haven of calm and peace. Since 2018 a small group of local villagers and church members has worked on a churchyard project including, in early 2020, the construction of a limestone labyrinth within the meadow. Already this has become a place of reflection; a safe container for sorrows and joys, uncertainties and hopes; a place of solace for the soul. Walking the labyrinth is not a prescriptive practice. It offers a welcoming space allowing the pilgrim to participate in their own authentic spiritual journey in a simple yet sometimes deepening way. ‘Words in Wood’ (oak boards inscribed with words from medieval spiritual writing, Hebrew and Christian scriptures and contemporary poetry) can be discovered along the churchyard pathways. They offer a gentle moment of reflection ‘along life’s way’.
To help protect and develop biodiversity and to encourage food sources for pollinators and small mammals, we seek to manage the wildflowers and grasses with both trimmed and wild areas. The children of the village are involved in making hedgehog houses, insect hotels and bird-nesting boxes for the trees.
Standard opening times
The churchyard is always open. The church is usually open every day between 8.30am and dusk. For details of current church opening times/services check the parish website at www.upperwharfedalechurches.org
St Mary's Church, Kettlewell, Skipton, Yorkshire, BD23 5RD, United Kingdom
Grid Reference: SD971722
By car: If arriving by car the village residents would be grateful if you could please park in the YDNP car park rather than along the narrow village lanes.
From Skipton and the south, from the A59 turn north onto the B6265 towards Grassington. Continue onto the B6160 all the way to Kettlewell.
From Leyburn and the north east, follow the A684 west towards Hawes. About half a mile past the hamlet of Swinithwaite turn left on the B6160 to Kettlewell.
From the north west, head to Skipton on the A59 or the A65, then follow the directions from Skipton above.
By public transport (rail/bus): Trains to Skipton. Service Bus 72 or 72A from Skipton station to Grassington. Connect to 72B to Kettlewell. www.vetch.co.uk/uw_bus/
On foot: On the Dales Way long distance footpath Kettlewell lies between Grassington to the south of Kettlewell and Buckden to the north.
Just beyond the lych gate a simple interpretation board welcomes you to the resources of the churchyard and church. There are five wooden benches in the churchyard, one being just at the side of the church alongside the accessible path. There is wheelchair access to the church but the largely grassy paths in the churchyard may be difficult for a wheelchair user.
Toilets are situated next to the Yorkshire Dales National Park car park as you enter Kettlewell from the south.
Refreshments can be found in the village which has three pubs, two tea shops, a deli bar and village store, all selling food. In addition to the pubs, accommodation also comprises B&B’s, a youth hostel, holiday cottages, motorhome site and award winning campsite.
Suitable for quiet days for individuals or groups.
Tel: 01756 761864