<div style="display:inline;"> <img height="1" width="1" style="border-style:none;" alt="" src="//googleads.g.doubleclick.net/pagead/viewthroughconversion/1028731116/?value=0&amp;guid=ON&amp;script=0">
6 ISSUES FOR £6 Subscribe to Yorkshire Life today click here

Yorkshire Dales walk - Barden Moor and Embsay Reservoir

PUBLISHED: 00:00 13 July 2016 | UPDATED: 20:23 19 November 2017

Lower Barden Reservoir and Simon's Seat

Lower Barden Reservoir and Simon's Seat

not Archant

Terry Fletcher makes the most of the summer colours on this glorious walk from Embsay reservior

Upper Barden Reservoir Upper Barden Reservoir

The greatest glory of the Yorkshire Moors is the spectacular bloom of heather in high summer when the drab heather and peat is turned into an undulating purple sea. It is a shame that this is the time when so many moors are off limits to the public because of grouse shooting, so you need to pick your day to enjoy the moors with a little care.

This walk makes use of the Bolton Abbey Estate’s Barden Moor Access Area and although some of it is on public rights of way, other sections make use of access land and permissive paths which can be closed for shooting. The shooting season begins on August 12th – the Glorious Twelfth – and continues until December 10th, though there is no shooting on a Sunday.

Notices posted at access points to the moor tend to be blanket affairs, closing the moor on every potential shooting day but the estate’s website www.boltonabbey.com often has a more up-to-date timetable, or walkers can call the estate office on 01756 718000 for the latest information.


Rylstone Cross Rylstone Cross

From the reservoir car park, take the unmade road around the water’s edge signed to Embsay Crag. Once past the reservoir, take a stile on the right and turn immediately left uphill following a sign to Crookrise Crag. The path climbs, a little damply in places, to the rim of the moor where it turns left to follow a drystone wall which follows the escarpment of Crookrise Crag, a popular spot with local rock climbers.

Eventually the path reaches the white painted trig point on top of the crag with extensive views across to Lancashire and the great whaleback of Pendle Hill, while behind the moor drifts away in a sea of purple heather.

From the trig point, continue following the wall along the escarpment and the edge of a wood and over the poetically-named Fairies Chest to arrive at the deep cleft of Waterfall Gill. Drop down through the heather and cross the stream on boulders before climbing a steep, narrow path on the other side and continuing through the heather and bracken to reach a broad track by a gate climbing up from Rylstone.

The track heading away to the right is the route across the moor but before taking it it’s worth continuing along the escarpment for a few minutes to reach the impressive monument of Rylstone Cross.

Embsay Reservoir Embsay Reservoir

The site of the cross has been a landmark for centuries when it was part stone and part timber. However, in the early 1990s it was destroyed, nobody knows whether by lightning or vandals, and was replaced by the fine stone cross which still crowns the crag.

From the cross, return to the track by the gate and head off (now left) across the great bowl of the moor. After about 20 minutes it meets a track coming in from the right. Turn left along this, still aiming across the moor. After another ten minutes or so, ignore a signed path on the right to Embsay Kirk (though this is a short cut if time is pressing or the weather has turned). Otherwise carry on ahead and soon Upper Barden Reservoir appears down in the valley to the left. Beyond it, on the far side of Wharfedale the great gritstone boss of Simon’s Seat crowns the skyline.

Carry on straight ahead, still on the track and ignore a wide track branching off left to the reservoir. As you carry on down the track, a second reservoir, Lower Barden, comes into view. Shortly afterwards at a prominent junction, turn right uphill passing between a pair of shooting huts to where the track ends and becomes a much fainter path following a line of grouse butts with the face of the now disused Haw Bank Quarry ahead. Away to the right the rounded top of Embsay Crag – more a rock-studded knoll than a cliff face – is prominent.

From the final butt (Number 1) a thin path heads off half left to a stile and gate. This is the Eastby Gate access point. Do not go through this but instead follow the wall rightwards. Crossing the gill involves a bit of bushwhacking through the bracken and reeds to reach a clearer path that climbs the other side. Take this and then follow the narrow trod, vaguely parallel to the intake wall and aiming for Embsay Crag directly ahead.

The path continues, sometimes little more than a narrow sheep trod, until Embsay Reservoir and the car park come into view. But before reaching it it’s first necessary to cross the top of the crag. When the path reaches Embsay Gate it joins a broader track that goes on to the top of the crag before dropping down steeply to pass the reservoir and reach the stile crossed at the start of the walk.

Compass points

Start/finish: Embsay Reservoir, near Skipton

Distance: 8m/13km

Time: 4 hours

Terrain: Moorland paths and shooters’ tracks

Parking: Yorkshire Water car park

Refreshments: Pub and shops Embsay, great selection in Skipton

Maps: OS OL 2 Yorkshire Dales Southern and Western.

Related articles


Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Yorkshire Life visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Yorkshire Life staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Yorkshire Life account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More from Out & About


Bluebells are growing like the clappers at this time of year. Clea Grady from Yorkshire Wildlife Trust suggests a few of the best places to see them.

Read more
Spring Yorkshire Woodland
Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Nathan Parry from Malton is a keen photographer and recently visited Ravenscar to spot the seals in their element.

Read more
photography Yorkshire Wildlife Coastal Yorkshire
Friday, April 13, 2018

The Tour de Yorkshire is back and bigger than ever. ‘Tour fever’ is at an all-time high, with a new stage and an extra day added for 2018. This Yorkshire-based race is the result of the success of 2014’s Tour de France (the first two stages were nicknamed Le Tour de Yorkshire), and we have embraced this local version with as much gusto as its French predecessor.

Read more
Wednesday, April 11, 2018

An enchanting walk from West Witton in Wensleydale reveals the remains of a Knight Templars chapel

Read more
Friday, April 6, 2018

Although the Howardian Hills have been officially designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty for a quarter of a century they are often overlooked by the nearby North York Moors and Yorkshire Wolds when walking in Yorkshire.

Read more
Castle Howard

There’s a wealth of history in Penistone, and not just in the range of fine structures in and around the market town but in the activities that make it a community

Read more
Monday, April 2, 2018

Sir Titus Salt would be pleased with the way his workers’ village has developed, except maybe for the local bars, as Richard Darn reports

Read more
Tuesday, March 27, 2018

A £1million appeal has been launched to revitalise an important community centre in a North Yorkshire market town.

Read more
Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Try this perfect springtime walking from a favourite market town

Read more
Monday, March 12, 2018

Explore a coastal town with a genuine feel good factor. Richard Darn finds out more

Read more
Great British Holidays advert link

Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory

Follow us on Twitter

Like us on Facebook

Subscribe or buy a mag today

subscription ad

Local Business Directory

Yorkshire's trusted business finder

Job search in your local area

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Property Search