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Take your time over moors and through woodland to appreciate beautiful Nidderdale. Word and photography by Terry Fletcher
Some think Nidderdale is forgotten, left out of the Yorkshire Dales National Park at its creation in the 1950s and now doomed to be forever the poor relation. This walk along two high level paths proves them wrong and shows this sometimes neglected valley is the equal of anything its more glamorous neighbours have to offer.
From the bridge over the Nidd climb the High Street to its top and then follow it rightwards into Ripon Road. Fifty yards further on, just past the Methodist church, take a flight of steps on the left signposted Panorama Walk. Pass the cemetery and continue uphill. This initial steep section is enclosed but as the path begins to level out it starts to live up to its name with extensive views across the valley.
The path eventually becomes a Tarmac lane which is followed downhill all the way to the main road. Turn left along this for a couple of hundred yards before crossing the road to take a public footpath just beyond the second house. This track clings to the right hand wall before passing through a gate and on to join a lane. Turn left to emerge on the tiny green of Glasshouses.
Carry on down the hill past the school to cross the Nidd and almost immediately take the lane on the left and after a few yards take another lane on the right which passes in front of the row of cottages. When the track appears to end, pass to the right of a cottage to take a narrow enclosed way with a discreet Six Dales Trail sign on a post at knee height.
Where it enters a wood turn right for a few feet and then begin to climb on a slightly sunken path which is sometimes hard to spot. After a few minutes this track meets a broader way climbing from right to left. Turn leftwards and carry on up the hill. It meanders through the wood with the escarpment of Guisecliff occasionally glimpsed through the trees.
When it leaves the wood it carries on climbing giving views across the valley to Brimham Rocks and eventually the effort is rewarded with a view into the upper dale across Pateley Bridge to Gouthwaite Reservoir beyond.
A steel transmitter tower marks the end of the climb. Turn right to pass behind the tower and its assorted buildings. The path follows a dilapidated drystone wall with signs advising walkers to stick to the track. This is because the gritstone crag of Guisecliff lies just beyond with hidden rock crevasses awaiting the unwary in the bracken so a sharp eye should be kept on children and pets.
The wall remains a faithful companion all the way along the moor edge until the path arrives at Yorkes Folly, known locally Two Stoups. This landmark, visible from much of the middle section of the dale, was created in the late 18th century to provide work for local quarrymen and lead miners during a recession. They literally worked for their daily bread, being paid a loaf plus 4d a day for their labour. Originally the 50ft high folly, designed to look like a ruined church, had three towers but one blew down in 1893.
Pass in front of the folly and follow the path to reach a more open stretch of moorland and a road. Cross straight over and follow the signpost marked Nidderdale Way to Bewerley. The path drops through Skrikes Wood and a meadow to reach a road.
Turn left downhill. A footpath on the left which forms a short cut has been closed for bridge repairs necessitating a walk down the road to cross Turner Bridge following the signs for Pateley Bridge. From here the Nidderdale Way follows the Tarmac all the way to Bewerley and Pateley, which is the better wet weather alternative.
However it is possible to avoid much of the road walking by turning left after a couple of hundred yards into Peat Lane. Two hundred yards up on the right is the entrance to Moorview Kennels and Cattery and beside it is a footpath signed to Fishpond Wood.
Follow this and at a fork turn left beside the pond. When it leaves the wood turn right to climb a flight of steps and cross the brow to drop through to field to a road. This section can be very boggy after heavy rain and is probably wiser to use the road variation from Turner Bridge if in doubt.
At the road turn left, cross a stream and immediately take a path on the right signed to Bridgehouse Gate. Initially it follows the stream before climbing diagonally up the field to an overgrown exit onto the road. This is the final descent of Greenhow Hill and can busy so take great care as you drop down to Pateley
Start/Finish: Pateley Bridge
Terrain: Moorland and woodland paths, two steep climbs
Map: OS Explorer 298
Refreshments: Cafs and pubs in Pateley Bridge