Nidderdale & Washburn Walks
Date: 15th Jul 2014
Distance: 5.90 miles
Ascent: 620 feet
Time: 2 hours 30 mins
With: On my own
Start Grid Ref: SE196619
A short evening walk starting from Dacre Banks featuring a nice stretch alongside the River Nidd before visiting the trig point on Hartwith Hill.
Route Summary: Dacre Banks - Nidderdale Way - White Oak - Willie's Wood - Hartwith Hill - Hartwith - New York Lane - Summerbridge - Dacre Banks
Photos: Click on the photos below to enlarge.
Walk Detail: Due to a number of other commitments I haven't been able to get out for a decent length walk on a weekend since the very beginning of June, the only notable exception to this being the Wharfedale Three Peaks Challenge Walk at the end of June. After an attempt to get out for some form of exercise the previous day ended in farce when the front wheel fell off my bike while cycling near Pateley Bridge I headed out to Nidderdale again, this time for a post-work evening walk.
The twin aims of the walk were to bag the trig point on Hartwith Hill and also to explore the stretch of lower Nidderdale between Summerbridge and Darley. Two years previously I'd parked up in Dacre Banks and set off upstream alongside the River Nidd. This time I went in the opposite direction following the river downstream towards Darley.
Almost immediately I came across a sign exhorting walkers to pick any Himalayan Balsam they might see. This plant, introduced to the UK in 1839, is seen as something of a pest and there was indeed plenty alongside the path, far too much indeed for me to do anything about even if I had been so inclined.
The initial path was quite uneven in places with the surrounding vegetation threatening to overgrow it. However, by the time the riverside path had met the embankment of the old Harrogate - Pateley Bridge railway to the south of Low Hall Wood not only did the path begin to improve but so did the views of the river itself.
Not long after passing some dodgy looking stepping stones I crossed Darley Beck by a footbridge and then passed some very posh looking houses built on the former site of Darley Station. A bit further along I crossed over the Nidd by a footbridge and leaving the river behind crossed a wheatfield and then walked up through Willie's Wood to reach the B6165 via the drive to Manor House Farm.
Carefully crossing the road I located a gate hidden in the undergrowth to access what is marked as a bridleway but which clearly sees little in terms of horses, or bikes, or feet for that matter, as there is little sign of the right of way on the ground. After walking through one pasture I made a short diversion from the 'bridleway' in the next pasture to reach the trig point. Standing at a modest 191m in altitude the battered trig point was situated near some gorse and surrounded by a scattering of stones in a pasture that was otherwise full of sheep. The view was nice enough but not particularly extensive.
Continuing along I passed Prospect Farm to reach Chapel Lane; after a short diversion to take a look at the outside of Hartwith's church, I followed the bridleway just north of Edge Nook Farm all the way into Summerbridge. The upper reaches of the bridleway, before it plunged into extensive bracken and then a wood, provided the finest views of the walk looking across the valley towards Darley, Dacre and Thornthwaite. From Summerbridge it was then a simple walking a short walk back to the car.
This was a pleasant walk and one of the very few I've done that didn't include any access land. One thing I was slightly worried about beforehand was the potential of lots of cow encounters but as it happened I only came across them in a small pasture in the woods right at the end of the walk above Summerbridge.