Nidderdale & Washburn Walks
Sigsworth Moor & Gouthwaite Reservoir
Date: 28th March 2015
Distance: 11.1 miles
Ascent: 1082 feet
Time: 5 hours 20 minutes
With: On my own
Start Grid Ref: SE144676
An initially easy walk along Gouthwaite Reservoir followed by a tough moorland crossing of Sigsworth Moor to visit a number of gritstone crags.
Route Summary: Wath Bridge - Nidderdale Way - Gouthwaite Reservoir - Bouthwaite - Covill House Moor - North Cross - Kettlestang Hill - Sigsworth Moor - Sigsworth Crags - Cow Close Crag - Yeadon Crag - Yeadon Crag - High Bishopside - Wath Lane - Wath Bridge
Photos: Click on the photos below to enlarge.
Walk Detail: Unlike the neighbouring Yorkshire Dales National Park where limestone often dominates, the rock most commonly encountered in the Nidderdale AONB is gritstone. The most famous and spectacular of Nidderdale's gritstone features is Brimham Rocks. There are however many other lesser-known gritstone crags and boulders, many of which are well off the beaten track. The aim of this walk was to visit four such crags on the moors above Gouthwaite Reservoir.
I didn't start the walk until almost midday so as to allow as much of the morning rain to clear as possible. The forecast was for bright spells and showers in the afternoon but as it was still raining when I arrived I decided to do the route clockwise and do the valley section first. As it happened the rain stopped almost as soon as I left the car at Wath Bridge and set off north along the Nidderdale Way and within a mile occasional and brief patches of sunshine began to appear.
The walk along the eastern side of the reservoir was very pleasant but as is often the case after a few miles of lower level walking I was pleased to reach Bouthwaite and begin to gain some height on the byway climbing out of the hamlet. I hadn't got far though before a particularly strong shower led me to take shelter behind a wall where I decided to pass the time having my lunch.
Once the shower has passed overhead I continued on up the track across Covill House Moor to reach Harry Cross Edge where the views suddenly opened out to the east across Kirkby Malzeard Moor to the distant outline of the Hambleton Hills. Thus far the walk had been on good tracks but this was all about to change as I struck across the pathless moor on to Kettlestang Hill. The next few miles was tough and would not be everyone's idea of a good walk. In places the heather was quite thick, there was also plenty of moisture on the ground and combined with the strong winds it was hard work.
The main features of Kettlestang Hill that I came across were a couple of boundary stones, including the one called North Cross, a solitary tree to the west of the trig point and the trig point itself. Another couple of boundary stones as well as the site of Kettlestang Cross are marked on the map but if these still exist they were buried under the heather. The view east was extensive and I was pleasantly surprised when I could also see my home town of Harrogate to the south.
From Kettlestang Hill I turned west on to Sigsworth Moor aiming for a cairn that had been in sight ever since I'd left the track on Covill House Moor. Situated on a small group of rocks called Jordan Crags it was a particularly well constructed cairn perched on a rock which in turn was balanced between two other rocks. I did wonder who had built it and why in a place that surely sees very few visitors.
Heading west from the cairn, through a gate in the wall, I came across a shooting track and a welcome respite from the heather. Another heavy shower cleared to reveal a beautiful full-length rainbow. From just above a shooting hut I ploughed back through the heather to visit Sigsworth Crags. Perhaps it was due to my excitement at the sun coming out, or maybe it was just slippery after the rain, but I took a careless step up on to one of the outcrops and pitched forwards dropping my camera. It has survived a few bumps over the last three years but sadly not this one and picture number 21 above proved to be the last photo I took on my Panasonic DMC-G3K.
Fortunately I had my phone to fall back on for taking photos so putting aside my disappointment about the camera I made my way back to the shooting track. This I followed round to the other side of Dauber Gill before striking out again through the heather to visit both Cow Close Crag and Yeadon Crag. Both crags boasted some nice gritstone outcrops and good views down into Nidderdale including a section of Gouthwaite Reservoir.
From Yeadon Crag I made my across a few pastures to the trig point on High Bishopside before descending on a quad track to Wath Lane. This narrow country lane provided some lovely views of the Gouthwaite Reservoir as I dropped down to Wath and the end of the walk.
Breaking my camera obviously cast a bit of a shadow and it was tough going but I do derive real pleasure from exploring out of the way places and this walk was no exception. Now I just need to work out a practical route to visit the trig point on Mark Hill on the similarly difficult to access moors on the other side of the valley above Gouthwaite Reservoir.