Post 181: 2 September 2017, Scar House Reservoir.
At this point, as I was about to leave Malham, I had what’s called a Change of Plan. The weather was so good it would have been a crime to go back to York and not show Victoria some more of the ‘Best of Yorkshire’. In life, walking and photography, when there is an opportunity you have to take it even though you might feel a little bit tired. The opportunity this weather offered could not be missed.
One of my most favourite little known places is actually outside the National Park and partly because of this it is little visited. It is the upper part of Nidderdale, around Scar House Reservoir.
Leaving Malham Cove and the crowds, we were soon on delightfully quiet roads heading up steep and bendy tarmac with glorious views either side. They are the sort of roads that car companies use to advertise their new cars, where one gets a sense of freedom on the open road.
Easy Rider in a Volvo!
We passed Malham Tarn, which could be just seen in the distance.
I was constantly on the look out for pull-ins to stop and capture the views before us. As we crossed over the Pennine Way at Great Hill Scar and descended towards Arncliffe and Littondale, I had to do an emergency stop to capture the view of Yew Cogar Scar alongside Cowside Beck. Wonderful names and wonderful views.
Arncliffe came into view crowned by quilted heather above it. The wall patterns added to the intricate scene. Victoria stared at the walls for a long time as where she lives in Germany no such walls exist. It is a privilege to be able to show new overseas visitors around the area as they add to ones perspective of the area. We can take so much for granted.
It would have been good to turn left at Arncliffe and go into the ‘cul de sac’ of Littondale with its hamlets of Foxup, Litton and Halton Gill. However, it was after 3.30pm and time was pressing on. So a quick right turn and then a drive down Littondale past Kilnsy Crag soon brought us to Grassington and back into the more touristy area. However, I had another objective in mind and we pressed onto Hebden where the roads again became quiet.
In the Greenhow Hill area, notorious for cyclists due to its steepness, we could soon see the environs of Nidderdale in the far distance .
It was then a steep drop down to Pateley Bridge and a sharp left before the playing fields to follow the road to the Gouthwaite Reservoir, which is passed. No time for bird watching there today!
At the end of the reservoir we passed the delightful Yorke Arms at Ramsgill. I will stay there one day!
The road then became more winding as we ‘sped’ onto Lofthouse, with Nidderdale becoming more enclosed and beautiful as though capturing you with its magic spell.
No wonder Janet Street-Porter CBE, former president of the Rambler’s Association, media personality, journalist and broadcaster has houses in this area.
After a quick stop at the very clean and well kept toilets (you can always tell a place by its toilets) we carried on a little further to a Yorkshire Water lane on the right. This looks as though it is a private lane. Don’t tell anyone (we don’t want it to get too busy – these are Secret Diaries) but it is possible to drive along the tarmac single lane.
Ascending the lovely valley we finally came to a car park with benches and toilets. Nearby is a huge ornate dam holding back Scar House Reservoir. It and Angram Reservoir just a little further up the valley were built to supply water to the Bradford area of West Yorkshire. The dam contains over one million tonnes of masonry and was built to last. It rises 55 metres above the river and is almost 600 metres long. It was completed in 1936. The dam height is 71 metres (233 feet). It is fed from Angram Reservoir, which in turn is fed from the mountain Great Whernside. It was once home to 1250 villagers who lived and worked building the dam. The Nidd Valley Light Railway was constructed to enable the reservoirs to be completed. The railway opened in 1907 and closed in 1937.
The geographical half way point of the delightful Nidderdale Way is the dam. The full walk which I completed in 2003 is 53 miles and starts at Ripley.
It was now 5pm and the light was starting to fade.
We listened to the silence and counted our blessings – we had made it on time.
Only the odd bird broke the silence of this special place.
So that was some of the best parts of the Yorkshire Dales seen and we are still only on Day 1!!
It was my 44th wedding anniversary the next day, so how could I keep my wife happy, but also keep on with this ‘project’ to show my overseas visitor the best of 31 years walking in Yorkshire condensed into 8 days?