Nidderdale & Washburn Walks
Date: 6th Aug 2014
Distance: 6.0 miles
Ascent: 770 feet
Time: 2 hours 20 mins
With: On my own
Start Grid Ref: SE153809
A lovely evening walk into Colsterdale via the Coal Road and returning via the Twin Standing Stones on the purple heather covered Gollinglith Ridge.
Route Summary: Gollinglith Foot - Coal Road - Shooting House - Twin Standing Stones - Gollinglith Crags - Coal Road - Gollinglith Foot
Photos: Click on the photos below to enlarge.
Walk Detail: This was my fourth walk in the lovely and underrated valley of Colsterdale in the eastern Dales. As two of my previous three visits to Colsterdale had been in August I planned this walk in the knowledge that I'd enjoy some quite wonderful views of purple heather - I wasn't to be disappointed.
One of the classic 'Old Ways' in the Dales, the Coal Road leading from Gollinglith Foot is, as its name suggests, an old colliers road that leads deep into Colsterdale and its surrounding moors. It is certainly one of my favourite tracks and after the initial few pastures (full of pheasant and rabbits) and passing a row of hawthorn the track enters the moor proper. Just as on previous visits at this time of year I was captivated by the contrast of the deep green of the bracken on one side of the path and the purple heather on the other side.
I followed the Coal Road until I'd passed High House Farm on the opposite bank and then dropped down to the river, along the official route of the bridleway as marked on the map, to see if it was possible to ford the river (it wasn't on my previous trip to Colsterdale in February). This time I was pleased to find that the single step crossing was in fact just a single step across. I was less pleased to find that once on the other side of the river the bridleway had been swallowed up by the bracken. The next half mile was a fairly desperate tussle with the undergrowth in order to reach a bridge that brought me back on to the Coal Road. Having twice had problems with this 'official' route now I'd advise just sticking to the main track.
Once back on the Coal Road I then walked back down the valley a short way before taking a shooting track branching up on to the moor of Gollinglith Ridge. This part of the route was new to me and after a short pull the track levelled out for a super section before curving up to gain the crest of the moor just north of the Twin Standing Stones. After battling with the bracken earlier in the walk it was now time for a bit of heather bashing - first to the Twin Standing Stones and then on to Gollinglith Crags.
The Twin Standing Stones actually proved to be two well constructed pointy cairns situated side by side on a gritstone boulder. They seemed remarkably well maintained especially considering, or perhaps because, there was no sign of a path or even a trod leading to or from them. From the twin cairns I continued on to a large cairn near the modest cliff of Gollinglith Crag which I visited next.
By this time the sun, already quite low, had dropped down behind a cloud and dusk was setting in so from the crags I continued to a wall from where I dropped back down to the Coal Road for an easy stride back to the car. Apart from the avoidable section on the north side of the river this was another lovely evening walk. Colsterdale with the summer evening sun shining down on its purple heather is a fine place to be. It was nice as well to finally visit the Twin Standing Stones and to see what they actually looked like up close.