Kettlewell – St Mary’s

About this Churchyard

Lying beneath the slopes of Great Whernside in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales is the village of Kettlewell.  St Mary’s churchyard, once carved out from the ancient pastures and meadowland that surround it, is a beautiful place of welcome for all life.

Aware of the large footfall of visitors to the churchyard, in 2018 a small group of local villagers and church members began working
together on a project to enhance the churchyard’s use for both people and wildlife.  As well as continuing to provide a place where our loved ones could be respectfully laid to rest in the midst of creation, the group wished to offer personal and spiritual resources for the living to find solace, beauty and nurture, all set within a context where wildflowers, grasses, trees, insects, birds and other animal life could also thrive.

The interpretation board standing just beyond the lychgate now signposts
• The timeline of the 800 year old history of a Christian church on this site
• Graves and memorials including a Grade ll listed grave slab
• The biodiversity of wildlife and plants in the churchyard
• The simple words carved in wood along the pathways
• The Meadow Labyrinth.

To help protect and develop biodiversity and to encourage food sources for pollinators and small mammals, the group manages the wildflowers and grasses with both trimmed and wild conservation areas. On June 4th 2019 the Botany Group of the Upper Wharfedale Field Society did a botanical survey of the churchyard discovering 58 types of flora.

The best time to view the wildflowers is between June- August.

Young people’s biodiversity workshops take place in the churchyard the results of which include seven bird boxes, two insect homes, a home for solitary bees and a hedgehog house. The churchyard is also a venue for bird and animal spotting events with the local primary school and village residents taking part.

The installation of a stunning limestone labyrinth has become a place of reflection for many.  In the light of its resources the churchyard has been welcomed into the national network of Small Pilgrim Places.

The churchyard was awarded The Best North Yorkshire Churchyard
2021 by CPRE, The Countryside Charity.

Species List

Key Features
  • Wildflower area
  • Wildlife haven
  • Peaceful space for quiet reflection
  • Good accessibility
  • Birders paradise
  • Memorials with famous or infamous connections
  • Fascinating monuments
  • Great for fungi
  • lichen haven



St Mary’s Churchyard
North Yorkshire
BD23 5RD

Visitor Information

Opening Times

The church is usually open every day between 8.30am and dusk. The churchyard is always open.

Church Website

Contact details

Di Blakey Williams
[email protected]
Convenor of the Churchyard Project


Access to the church is step free , the paths around the churchyard are gravel or grass and mostly level.


Toilets are situated next to the Yorkshire Dales National Park car park. There is one toilet accessible for wheelchair users with their own RADAR key.


From spring to autumn there are six benches with back and arm rests. One is just at the west end of the church alongside the accessible path.

Parking & Transport

The Yorkshire Dales National Park car park is on the left as you enter the village from the south.

The nearest train station is Skipton. From there take Service Bus 72 or 72A from Skipton train station to Grassington. Connect to 72B to Kettlewell.

Bus timetable.


There are two cafes and two pubs within a five minute walk.


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