Nidderdale & Washburn Walks
Date: 25th June 2013
Distance: 6.8 miles
Ascent: 821 feet
Time: 3 hours 10 minutes
With: On my own
Start Grid Ref: SE154573
A summer evening walk along the western shore of Thruscross Reservoir before walking up on to Rocking Moor via the Raven Stones.
Route Summary: Thruscross Dam - Duke's Hill - Bramley Head - Croft House - Raven Stones - Rocking Hall - Rocking Moor - Spittle Ings House - Thruscross Dam
Photos: Click on the photos below to enlarge.
Walk Detail: The chain of large reservoirs along the Washburn valley are a popular desitnation for walkers of all ages and abilities, especially Fewston and Swinsty reservoirs. Less well known are the moors above the upper end of the valley above Thruscross Reservoir, the highest of the four Washburn reservoirs. The main aim of this walk was to visit Rocking Hall, the shooting house that stands prominently on the upper slopes of Rocking Moor.
Starting from the car park above the impressive Thruscross dam I followed the path alongside the western edge of the reservoir. It was a most pleasant mile or so of walking and brought back nice memories of family picnics when I was young. Towards the end of the path I came across the ruins of a building from the village of West End most of which lies submerged under the waters of the reservoir.
I left the reservoir path upon reaching Whit Moor Road and headed up the side valley of Cappleshaw Beck. The paths were not always clear or clearly marked until I got to Bramley Head where I then followed a wide track across the beck and up past Croft House on to the open moor and access land.
The first mooorland pasture was quite overgrown with a mixture of reeds, nettles and thistles so it was with some relief when I exited into more heathery surrounds to follow the outside of the wall leading to Raven Stones. It is worth noting that along the way I passed a stile advertising a concessionary path heading in the direction of Croft House, this is unmarked on any map but would make a much better alternative to the rough pasture I'd just crossed.
Although modest in size the Raven Stones were nicely situated with extensive views to the west and to the south and were definitely worth the effort to reach them. To get from Raven Stones to Rocking Hall required a fair bit of pathless heather bashing. Along the way I passed the unremarkable Even Stones. More memorable was the extensive patches of cotton grass and the almost constant calls of various moorland birds including lapwings, golden plovers, curlews, oystercatchers, meadow pipits and skylarks. I also think, but could not be completely certain, that I saw a merlin.
Rocking Hall proved to be not one but two separate buildings either side of two large stones collectively known as Rocking Stone and which presumably lent its name both to the Hall and the surrounding moor. The view from Rocking Hall was again extensive and even included, beyond Ilkley Moor, the prominent windfarm on Ovenden Moor in Bronte Country. By this time it was past 8pm so I wolfed down a late meal and set off at a fast pace on a wide track that led me all the way to Spittle Ings House and ultimately on to the road which I followed back to the start.
Apart from a few rough sections this was a nice walk. The Raven Stones were a good find and the variety and quantity of moorland birds was also memorable.