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Travel North - 27: Follow the Nidd, From Source Near How Stean Caves and Through Upper Nidderdale

Updated on May 21, 2019

Take a look around the upper reaches of Nidderdale

Stean in Upper Nidderdale - amazing how a little sunshine brightens up a walk
Stean in Upper Nidderdale - amazing how a little sunshine brightens up a walk | Source
Local watering holes, firstly The Crown at Middlesmoor and secondly...
Local watering holes, firstly The Crown at Middlesmoor and secondly... | Source
The Crown at Lofthouse in Nidderdale, somewhere else to rest your feet, fill a hole and taste the local brew
The Crown at Lofthouse in Nidderdale, somewhere else to rest your feet, fill a hole and taste the local brew | Source
Upper Nidderdale locations - the yellow dots indicate former lead mines
Upper Nidderdale locations - the yellow dots indicate former lead mines | Source
Late Tudor Saxton 1577 map of Nidderdale marked as 'Netherdale', with Pateley Bridge at the centre as the point where the Nidd changes character from fast-flowing upland watercourse to something more sedate
Late Tudor Saxton 1577 map of Nidderdale marked as 'Netherdale', with Pateley Bridge at the centre as the point where the Nidd changes character from fast-flowing upland watercourse to something more sedate | Source
High pastures in Upper Nidderdale - scenic beauty, and lots of green (few buildings or houses)
High pastures in Upper Nidderdale - scenic beauty, and lots of green (few buildings or houses) | Source
 Green Crag in Upper Nidderdale, the landscape looks increasingly mountainous as you travel or walk westward
Green Crag in Upper Nidderdale, the landscape looks increasingly mountainous as you travel or walk westward | Source

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),

Here beginneth your ramble

How Stean Gorge, a rigorous walking route - seen here near where the gorge opens out
How Stean Gorge, a rigorous walking route - seen here near where the gorge opens out | Source
A full family activities guide to help you find your way around and enjoy the facilities offered in Nidderdale for the outdoor life
A full family activities guide to help you find your way around and enjoy the facilities offered in Nidderdale for the outdoor life | Source
Walk 36 via How Stean Gorge to Middlesmoor and return
Walk 36 via How Stean Gorge to Middlesmoor and return | Source
Middlesmoor with Upper Nidderdale - miles of walks for enthusiasts in the Pennine foothills
Middlesmoor with Upper Nidderdale - miles of walks for enthusiasts in the Pennine foothills | Source
The main street, Middlesmoor in less clement weather, although still walkable
The main street, Middlesmoor in less clement weather, although still walkable | Source
A faster-flowing River Nidd at Lofthouse-in-Nidderdale
A faster-flowing River Nidd at Lofthouse-in-Nidderdale | Source
Here's where to find Nidderdale and Upper Nidderdale in the Harrogate area, with main rail and road routes to nearby towns
Here's where to find Nidderdale and Upper Nidderdale in the Harrogate area, with main rail and road routes to nearby towns | Source
See description below
See description below | Source

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. Take a ride along the reservoirs north to Lofthouse with views to the south, and enjoy a meal in one of the inns around Pateley Bridge. Easily reached from Harrogate to the south, Ripon and York to the east, Skipton to the west, Nidderdale is also the gateway to Masham in Lower Wensleydale by way of Lofthouse in the north-east corner of the dale.,

Lofthouse-in-Nidderdale

A
Lofthouse-in-Nidderdale:
Nidderdale, Harrogate HG3, UK

get directions

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

Water, water everywhere...

Pateley Bridge Station, 1905. Bradford Corporation sent men and materials via a narrow gauge railway from here up the dale to create two large reservoirs for its citizens
Pateley Bridge Station, 1905. Bradford Corporation sent men and materials via a narrow gauge railway from here up the dale to create two large reservoirs for its citizens | Source
Scar House Dam at the bottom end of -..
Scar House Dam at the bottom end of -.. | Source
The Nidderdale Way - another walk? Feeling energetic? This is one for the enthusiast!
The Nidderdale Way - another walk? Feeling energetic? This is one for the enthusiast! | Source
- Scar House Reservoir - a dale was flooded to provide clean water for the West Riding conurbations around Bradford
- Scar House Reservoir - a dale was flooded to provide clean water for the West Riding conurbations around Bradford | Source
Dale Edge towards the Pennines, the spine of England and boundary with Lancashire
Dale Edge towards the Pennines, the spine of England and boundary with Lancashire | Source

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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!

© 2012 Alan R Lancaster

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    • alancaster149 profile imageAUTHOR

      Alan R Lancaster 

      6 years ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire)

      Hello Sommer. Appreciate the appreciation. There's more to come once I've upgraded my 'sleeping' Hub-pages.

    • SommerDalton profile image

      Sommer Dalton 

      6 years ago

      Very detailed and informative! Loved all the pictures, voted up and more:)

    • alancaster149 profile imageAUTHOR

      Alan R Lancaster 

      6 years ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire)

      Hello again, again Nell. It gets better. Flamborough Head next. Meanwhile enjoy your walk and the drink at the end - two Crown Hotels to choose from. Can you wait? Don't forget your toothbrush!

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 

      6 years ago from England

      Hi alan, now this sounds like my kind of walk! what amazing views! every which way you go you come across something amazing to see, wonderful! voted up! cheers nell

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