Nidderdale & Washburn Walks
Colsterdale and Great Haw
Date: 20th August 2005
Distance: 15.6 miles
Ascent: 1829 feet
Time: 5 hours 30 minutes
With: On my own
Start Grid Ref: SE153809
A great walk up Colsterdale before climbing on to the moorland tops of Great Haw and South Haw before returning Dale Edge and Pott Moor.
Route Summary: Gollinglith Foot - Coal Road - River Burn - Dawson House - South Haw - Great Haw - Coverdale Tarn - Little Haw - Dale Edge - Pott Moor - Pott Moor High Road - High Sourmire - Towler Hill - Gollinglith Foot
1. Birk Gill
2. Colsterdale Moor from the Coal Road
3. The Coal Road
4. Colsterdale with Great Haw in the distance
5. The River Burn
6. Upper Colsterdale
7. The boundary stone on South Haw
8. Approaching Little Haw from Great Haw
9. Coverdale Tarn
10. The boundary stone on Great Haw
11. Scar House Reservoir backed by the heights of Upper Nidderdale
12. Arnagill Moor from Pott Moor
Walk Detail: The morning started off cloudy as I made my way along the Coal Road into Colsterdale. One of the reasons I had chosen the walk was that I wanted to get on to some moorland while the heather wass flowering. It turned out to be an inspired choice because the length of Colsterdale was an absolute delight with purple heather one side of the path and green bracken on the other side.
As I approached the head of the dale the sun started to break through the clouds and by the time I reached the moorland top of South Haw the sun had come out. From here I was greeted with a sudden view of Nidderdale, Meugher, Great Whernside and Great and Little Haw. I headed off for the latter along the line of the supposed bridleway that is marked on the map. It certainly doesn’t seem to exist anymore and after a while I got fed up of trekking through knee-deep heather and so headed for the fence and the walker’s path that runs up to Great Haw.
Not stopping I followed the fence north to Little Haw. I had expected good views into Coverdale and of Pen Hill but these were slightly disappointing as there was not a significant enough drop to see in to the valley properly over the moorland below.
After returning to Great Haw I followed the fence west and visited both Coverdale Tarn and Woogill Tarn. Although the smaller of the two I preferred Coverdale Tarn as Woogill Tarn looked more like a grassy pool surrounded by boot sucking marsh.
After returning to Great Haw for the third time I followed the fence back to South Haw and the path down to Dale Edge. The excursion to the Great and Little Haw had taken me two hours. Further on the views from Dale Edge were as fantastic I hoped they would be. The path along Pott Moor was also delightful and to the north and south there stretched miles of purple heather.
From the Masham road I turned north to what should have been the final stretch of the walk. What followed was possibly the worst mile of walking I've yet done. In the second field I got surrounded by cows that began crowding round me and so I had to make a run for the gate. The drop down to Grimes Gill was in head high bracken with hidden streams.
When I finally made it to the gill I couldn't locate the small footbridge as the gill was so choked with undergrowth. I decided to cross over and head straight up the other bank and after getting through the marshy ground tangled with brambles I met a wall of bracken and nettles. Disconsolately I headed back to the gill where I washed my badly stung legs with water before attempting to find the bridge again.
After wading down the gill I found the bridge and from then on to a track only to be met by another wall of bracken. After a futile attempt at bull dozing my way through I found a way round and up to the spooky deserted farmhouse of Sourmire. After making my way through another field of cows I was given some reward by startling a hare from the undergrowth and then seeing the rare sight of a wild white rabbit. The fact that this was a wild albino and not a hutch rabbit was confirmed to me by the farmer and her daughter who I spoke to briefly as they were driving back up to their farm.
What a walk of contrasts!! Colsterdale I definitely want to visit again, Grimes Gill on the other hand is one of the last places I want to go to again.