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Walk at Scar House Reservoir
GEORGE WILKINSON enjoys the outstanding quarries at Scar House Reservoir.
SCAR House Reservoir was filling up with Nidderdale’s Yorkshire water, to be piped by Yorkshire Water to the thirsty of Bradford. It was raining, torrentially alternating with less so.
An info board was headlined with a quote that. “A smile will always do more than a frown, either in Scar Village or Harrogate Town”. That was from the Scar Village Notes Newspaper of January 1926. This August day we smiled as blackbirds bathed in car park puddles and walkers came in with wet T-shirts.
Once there was a timber village, cinema and all, for the workers who made the reservoir, but now all bar a few remnants are gone.
Their dam looks sound if a touch ornate and is topped by 500 yards of road on which, at the other side, half a dozen 4x4s queued to cross, one at a time.
Someone said the convoy had been rabbiting, which reminds that the open access land we are exploring is, at the time of writing, closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, presumably for grouse shooting. Check with Natural England’s website before you walk.
We took the Nidderdale Way for a while, downriver and well above the valley floor, until that way was cut by the deep Woo Gill and we turned up into the purple heather.
Here my navigator chatted to a ‘nicely turned out’ young gamekeeper who was clearing drain channels along the tracks and learned that the aforementioned rabbiting was a spaniel trial. Water gushed from the moor in lurid light and thunder rumbled.
We could have gone higher, say up to Dead Man’s Hill, but instead went for a loop around the quarries that supplied the stone for the dam.
And if that sounds feeble it might be, and it is a route that is easy going on tracks, but if it sounds dull it’s not, because the quarries are outstanding, cut as long crescents in terraces they look spectacular.
Where the rock cliffs intersect streams are waterfalls, the stone is fissured into rectangular blocks, some bear marks of splitting rods.
By now, from the high terrace, Scar House Reservoir is laid out for you, long and curling to its connection with the smaller Angram Reservoir, cradled in the head of the valley by the high hills of Great Whernside.
We cut back down to the dam, and by then the weather was pleasant and we toyed with the idea of a stroll around the waters, but low cloud dissolved such romance so we just watched the canoes going round and round in circles.
When in doubt look at the map. Check your position at each point. Keep straight on unless otherwise directed.
1. From car park, pass house/WC, left to road towards dam. Cross dam.
2. Track on left uphill, 100 yards, track on right (fingerpost Lofthouse), fieldgate, fieldgate.
3. Fieldgate by wood, 300 yards, track on left uphill, fieldgate. Where track swings left uphill, ignore a right fork down.
4. At tracks junction (50 yards beyond grouse butts and near remains of wall which can be seen from the junction) carry straight on, do not take good track on right uphill. Through old quarries. STEEP DROPS.
5. Track switches back left downhill ahead of concrete ‘ruin’. Fieldgate and rejoin outward route, that is right 100 yards to fingerpost and left downhill to dam.
Distance: Four miles.
General location: Yorkshire Dales.
Start: Scar House Reservoir.
Right of way: Public paths and open access land.
Date walked: August, 2011.
Road route: Potholes on last four miles to dam.
Car parking: Free Yorkshire Water car park.
Lavatories: Car park.
Refreshments: Inn at Lofthouse.
Tourist and public transport information: Pateley Bridge TIC 08453 890179.
Map: Drawn from OS OL30 Yorkshire Dales northern and central.
Difficulty: Quite easy.
Please observe the Country Code and park sensibly. While every effort is made to provide accurate information, walkers set out at their own risk.