Nidderdale & Washburn Walks
Kirkby Malzeard Moor
Date: 22nd December 2013
Distance: 6.3 miles
Ascent: 877 feet
Time: 4 hours
With: On my own
Start Grid Ref: SE180726
An interesting wander upon Kirkby Malzeard Moor on a day of rapidly changing weather including frequent hail showers.
Route Summary: Tom Corner - Greystone Head - Hawset Riggs - Black Dike Stone Shelter - Carle Tower - Wolf Crags - Sighting Tower - Carlesmoor - Swetton Moor - Greygarth Hill - Tom Corner
Photos: Click on the photos below to enlarge.
Walk Detail: Kirkby Malzeard Moor is part of a large sweep of moorland to the east of Nidderdale. The area is not particularly celebrated but for those in the know these moors can provide some fine walking and the opportunity to go exploring off the beaten track. On this occasion I'd spotted a few features on the map that I wanted to visit namely Carle Tower, Wolf Crags, the sighting tower above Carlesmoor and the monument on Greygarth Hill.
Starting from the parking area just along the dead end road above Tom Corner it was immediately clear that I was going to be in for some interesting weather. When I arrived the sun was out and there were some lovely rainbows, before I'd even pulled my boots on I'd taken shelter in the car whilst a squally shower passed overhead. Five minutes later I was striding back down Greystone Head with the sun and rainbows back out again.
After a short way I left the road to follow a super track that led up on to the moor, crossing Wandley Gill on the way. Just before reaching Black Dike the track petered out into a thin trod that accesses some numbered marker posts (presumably grouse shooting posts). It was here that I had the first of the day's hail showers. It soon cleared but as I reached the stone shelter above the dike it was soon back. The stone shelter is marked on the map but has clearly seen better days and having stood up there in the hail I can confirm that it does not, in fact, offer much shelter at all.
Next I visited a small standing stone, the first of several I passed that are unmarked on the map and seemingly separate to the boundary stones a bit further to the north which I didn't visit. Shortly after crossing over the head of Wandley Gill I was caught exposed by a particularly strong hail shower which looked very dramatic as it blew across the front of me.
I managed to time my arrival at the Carle Tower with a break in the showers. This was one of the main objectives of the walk and I was curious to see if it was related at all to the sighting tower on Ilton Moor and the one further along the route near Carlesmoor. Standing prominently on the moor and visible for most of the walk, Carle Tower was just over head height and seems to be a large square sided cairn built on a small gristone outcrop. It doesn't bear any obvious resemblance to the sighting towers so unless it was a larger structure that was mostly demolished its origins are still something of a mystery.
After just a few minutes at the Carle Tower another hail shower came along. After taking shelter behind the tower for a short while I realised the shower wasn't going anywhere quickly so I wrapped up and headed off across the pathless moor towards Wolf Crags. I wasn't sure what to expect with these but they proved to be a tumble of quite large boulders. Had the weather been slightly more clement I'd have spent a bit longer exploring the rocks. As it was I didn't hang around long and continued over some particularly soggy moorland to reach a section of the Ripon Rowel Walk just below Stock Beck.
All things considered I was quite fortunate with the weather as I enjoyed a clear spell at most of the features I went looking for. This was particularly true of the Carlesmoor Sighting Tower. My arrival at the tower coincided with some brief and very welcome patches of sunshine. The sighting tower was one of at least two that were constructed as part of a survey when the nearby valley of Dallowgill was being considered as a possible reservoir site. Like its relation on Ilton Moor it is a very unusual and impressive structure standing, at a guess, about 45-50 feet high.
After a short interlude in the woods either side of Carlesmoor Beck I then crossed Swetton Moor heading for the Greygarth monument. Swetton Moor seemed to be one of those places with more paths marked on the map than actually existed on the ground. Eventually though I reached a gate which I climbed over to access the Greygarth monument. Built by local people in 1897 to celebrate Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee I've read that the monument actually replaced a much earlier tower that was built to commemorate the extinction of wolves in the area and which blew down in gales in 1890.
The monument takes the shape of a small tower with a ladder up to the viewing platform. I only stayed long enough to take a few photos as the darkening skies promised another heavy hail shower. Even in the deteriorating conditions I could tell though that the tower commands an excellent view eastwards to the distant line of the Cleveland and Hambleton Hills.
All that was left was a short walk back to the car above Tom Corner. This had been a good walk and while it is not always pleasant to be out in the hail on this occasion I think it actually added to my enjoyment and certainly when I look back at the walk it will probably be the dramatic hail showers that I'll remember most of all.