Nidderdale & Washburn Walks
Date: 19th Oct 2014
Distance: 5.1 miles
Ascent: 605 feet
Time: 2 hours 20 mins
Start Grid Ref: SE154573
A lovely autumn walk around Thruscross Reservoir made even more interesting by the low water levels revealing old tree stumps and drowned boundary walls.
Route Summary: A clockwise circuit of Thruscross Reservoir starting from the car park above Thruscross Dam and using the new route through the woods above the north shore of the reservoir.
Photos: Click on the photos below to enlarge.
Walk Detail: Thruscross Reservoir is the highest and most northerly of the four reservoirs in the Washburn Valley. The reservoir was completed in 1966, almost a century after Fewston, Swinsty and Lindley Wood reservoirs further down the valley. The reservoir drowned the village of West End which is rather strangely still signposted off the A59 at Blubberhouses. We used to go on family picnics to Thruscross when I was a child and I remember my dad telling me about the village that had existed there until until just a few years before I was born.
The circuit of the reservoir is a pleasant one and much quieter than the popular paths around Fewston and Swinsty reservoirs. Though I'd walked along the western side of the reservoir the previous year when I'd walked up on to Rocking Moor it had been nine years since I'd done the full circuit. Therefore when the opportunity came up for Lisa and I to do a short walk I thought it would be nice to go back. This time we decided to do the walk clockwise from the car park above the dam.
Given the relatively dry autumn I was interested in seeing whether the low water levels would reveal anything of West End. As it turned out the reservoir wasn't quite as low as pictures I've seen from droughts in 1989 and 1995. It was still low enough though to reveal some old boundary walls amd a couple of beaches of old tree stumps. These latter were particularly fascinating. The blackened stumps were contorted into all sorts of weird shapes; from a distance they looked like a host of bizarre crustaceans or even something from a sci-fi film!
After passing the sad remains of West End's former flax mill we followed the feeder stream of Capelshaw Beck to arrive at Whit Moor Road. I was planning on walking up the road to take the permissive path across Whit Moor. Instead we saw a board showing a 'new route', unmarked on my OS map or Memory Map software, that follows the north bank of Capelshaw Beck and then continues on through the woods alongside the reservoir.
I'm not sure how new this path is but I thoroughly enjoyed it. The sun came out briefly at this point to really enhance the beautiful autumn colours; we were also treated to an impressive rainbow over Whitmoor Farm. As the path swung north through the woods it became a bit rough and unclear in places but in its final stages it provided a rare opportunity to walk directly alongside the River Washburn itself. All too soon the path met up with the older route where the path crosses the river at a footbridge. This is a lovely little spot - the point where the river comes down from the moors above to be tamed by the reservoir.
From the bridge the path led up on to the moor for a mile or so before eventually dropping back down alongside the reservoir. Here the sun came out again briefly before a sudden sharp shower sent us hurrying across the dam to the shelter of the car. This was a bit of a shame as the view south from the dam is excellent, more so at this time of year when the trees are displaying their autumn colours. Still, I really enjoyed this walk and given that it is less than a twenty minute drive away from where I live I really shouldn't leave it another nine years before doing it again.