TRAVEL NORTH - 27: Follow the Infant Nidd (Around the Caves and Upper Dale)
Take a look around Upper Nidderdale
Here beginneth your ramble
From a picturesque cleft in the rocks of Upper Nidderdale, go on to open landscape with uninterrupted views of Scar House Reservoir that serves the West Riding
On the east-facing side of the Yorkshire Pennines see how the craggy gritstone outcrops break up the green swathes of the upper moorlands. Part-hidden wonders await the unwary eye. This nine-and-three quarter mile (15.7km) moderately graded walk should take you around four to four and a half hours to complete.
Followi the road for How Stean Gorge's entrance. Cut by the beck into limestone - as with Knaresborough to the south-east - you will find yourself around eighty feet (24m) down into your limestone surroundings. You will need to stump up small change to look under overhangs and into to deep, dark pools.
Make your way back to the start after your brief encounter with the underworld amd carry on up the lane. There is a sign for Middlesmoor at which you turn right. Climb through two stiles, cross a footbridge and cluimb some steps to a gate. Veer half-right to another stile in a wall that crosses the course of the walk and then uphill to the left. Pass through three more stiles to a road. Take a left turn and climb the steep road into picturesque Middlesmoor; fine views await you, across faraway moorland to The Edge and Summerstone Lodge.
The road winds through the village and past the car park and your first mile point. You now follow a walled track, take this a mile and a half to a gate. Stop for a moment and take in the view from here to the left, of Great Whernside as you carry on along the track over open pasture land. Not long later you catch sight of Scar House Reservoir, one of a string of man-made lakes that serves the metropolitan West Riding. Scar House came into use in 1936, the remains of the navvies' accommodation still visible. Your track wends downhill to a lakeside road. Turn right, then left where you cross the 233 foot high (71m) dam.
You have gone four miles so far, almost halfway. At the end of the dam turn left and climb. This way is signposted The Nidderdale Way. At the next sign bear right and the track is signposted for Lofthouse-in-Nidderdale. Follow this track through three gates and over two becks. In a mile and a half, after a further climb take a right turn on a rough track down to a gate, around a double turn and pass through three gates. Follow the path where it curves left by a waymarked post. Enter a gate, over a ford and through a further gate. Keep on over two cattle grids to the seven mile point.
The track wends right and left again near a farmhouse and on alongside fields. Pass through a gare and follow waymarkers to the right and left between buildings. Take the right one of a pair of gates, downhill into woods and take a left turn where the path divides. Go over the riverbed (the flow has gone underground) and go right and left through a farmyard. After the last building take a left turn through a signposted gate. A fence leads alongside the river to a ford where you cross and go on along the path through three gates. Here is a short walled section before you pass through five more gates.
You have reached the nine mile stage of your walk. Where the road turns follow into Lofthouse. By the cross in the square take a right turn at Fountains Cottage, pass through a pair of gates and over a footbridge. Squeeze through a stile and cross thr road, by a barn and after another gate carry on right along the road. This is where you turn left at the How Stean sign and follow back to the beginning... Fancy doing that again? You have reached your 9 3/4 mile target anyway. Take a well earned rest at the Crown!
The ground is mostly tracks with riverside and pasture paths as well as the dam crossing at Scar House.
Getting there: by car Lofthouse is twenty miles northwest of Harrogate and almost as many west of Ripon. Take the B6265 road to Pateley Bridge and follow the signs for Middlesmoor.
By public transport: from Leeds take the Transdev Harrogate and district No 36 - or the Northern Rail train to Harrogate and AS Coaches' Nidderdale Rambler Service 825 to Lofthouse (May-mid October, Sundays and Bank Holidays only).
The Crown Hotel Middlesmoor, Pateley Bridge HG3 5ST (01423 755204), or The Crown at Lofthouse HG3 5RZ, 0871 951 1000
Ordnance Survey Explorer Map OL30, Grid Ref SE 098 733
Excursions: Brimham Rocks, Summerbridge HG3 4DW, 01423 780688; find on: www.nationaltrust.org.uk - open daily 8am-dusk, Sun 2pm-5pm, admission free but a charge is made for parking.
How Stean Gorge is open daily 10am-6pm, Adm £5.50, Conc £3.75, 01423 755666, www.howstean.co.uk
Also in the area (to the east) are Fountains Abbey, Studley Royal, and Ripon with its pre-Conquest romanesque cathedral and market square, as well as Lightwater Valley Theme Park at North Stainley near Ripon.
Nidderdale is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB),
Navigate your way through Nidderdale (the Nidd Valley) in the central Dales, examine the flora and fauna from the comfort of your armchair and discover little-known corners of the dale.
Water, water everywhere...
Find your way around with this edition of the most successful Ordnance Survey series of maps drawn for the tourist and serious walker, on a scale large enough to follow without a magnifying glass. Footpaths, Bridle paths and un-fenced roads marked, places of interest, contours to show the lie of the land and inns to slake your thirst, rest your weary feet (it's a tiring business, following a map from your armchair).
Ordnance Survey Maps - Nidderdale
Upper Nidderdale in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales National Park with its broad vistas of the reservoirs above Pateley Bridge, deep gorges and caves
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On your way out of the area, take a walk around the banks of the River Nidd at Knaresborough and add a little history...
The history I mean has been woven around a mediaeval seeress known as Ursula Southill. She was more widely known as Mother Shipton, raised in one of the caves near the riverside below the castle. Her cursed father lived in the castle. Look her up in 'TRAVEL NORTH - 25: MOTHER SHIPTON'S HOME TURF - Knaresborough Walkabout' - prepare to be chilled!
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