Get in touch: send your photos, videos, news & views by texting YORK to 80360 or send an email»
Country walk at Embsay in the Dales
GEORGE WILKINSON wraps up well as he braves the chill at Embsay in the Dales.
EMBSAY Reservoir radiated a chill, with hardly a bird about and the wind rattling the bare rigging of the sailing boats. We wrapped up well and luckily we’d fuelled up substantially a mile down the lane at Embsay’s Elm Tree Inn.
The pub has a view of the Embsay Crag and it loomed, all bold dark gritstone. As we climbed its approach slope, a big black crow swung over.
Many people come here; these lower slopes are a good example of human feet battling the cover of bracken, but at the price of some erosion of the peaty soil.
We skirted below the crag and the ridge, stopped and set a compass, then turned up north. The compass was useful, the path was thin to uncertain for some lengths, but it is used, by walkers, gamekeepers and cyclists. Hail came down at a hard angle for half an hour on Stone Ridge Plain and in every direction the landscape became more featureless. We avoided the nearby Rotten Park.
Our reward was to reach a wide top track in the sunshine and being in a boulder field we chose a rock for a sandwich stop. An obelisk stands a mile away on Rylstone Fell, Rylstone as in the Calendar Girls. Five waders flew past, but of people there were none.
After the best part of a mile at an altitude of more than 1,300 feet, the route turns down at two nicely camouflaged grouse shooters’ huts. Wind turbines spun 15 miles east on Menwith Hill; those nearer, at Chelker Reservoir, did not.
We crossed Deer Gallows Plain and Deer Gallows Flat, and saw a fissured crag so named. And as for said name, well at about this point we could see down to the reservoir, to the village of Embsay and to Skipton. So it’s possibly a commanding spot for a gallows if you want to frighten the locals.
However, I’ve just read of an old tale about a deer catching and jamming its antlers in the crag and dangling.
Back at the reservoir a notice reads ‘No Dogs’ and below this ‘Trustees of Chatsworth Settlement, Estate Office, Bolton Abbey’, that’s for the moor, today’s route, and the estate also shut their moors for grouse shooting.
A squadron of hyperactive oystercatchers zoomed around, the tougher of the dog walkers were out, and a gleaming white raft of blackheaded gulls floated on the choppy waves, thousands of the birds, their heads tucked into their chests, all pointing into the westerly. Here a wind that blows thirty miles from the Irish Sea.
When in doubt look at the map. Check your position at each point. Keep straight on unless otherwise directed.
Directions to reservoir car park from Embsay. Pasture Road (dead-end) from junction by Elm Tree Inn and phone box. One mile up to car park (sign and fingerpost).
1. From car park, track to west of reservoir. Stile/fieldgate on right to moor and stay on good path nearest reservoir wall. Opposite stone building, right at fingerpost (bridleway sign), by wall, footbridge, fork left to path uphill (blue topped posts), 100 yards, path swings left uphill towards crag (post).
2. Large rock below crag, either of paths on right, below crag and ridge, paths are roughly parallel and angle downhill to wall, the upper of these might be best. Keep wall to your right.
3. Pass rectangular drystone-walled sheepfold on wall to right, 20 yards, then at fieldgate and blue post on right turn left on grassy ridge uphill. Note reedy gully appears to your right, thin path for a mile.
4. Left to main track (fingerpost), 2/3 mile.
5. Ignore right fork (bridleway sign) and stay on main track curving left, (access signs), pass thatched hut, down into and up out of gully.
6. Track swings left and fades, look out for path south, keep about a hundred yards from approximately parallel grouse butts.
7. At about level with big crag on left, path swings left towards lower of grouse butts, here look out for a pile of stones like a flattened cairn right by and to the right of the path, turn here, but skirt immediately a 50 yard diameter boggy bit, find faint path again, by now you can see the reservoir, steeper downhill. Rejoin outward route.
Distance: Five miles.
General location: Yorkshire Dales.
Start: Embsay Reservoir.
Right of way: Public and Open Access.
Date walked: March, 2012.
Road route: From York via Blubberhouses.
Car parking: Yorkshire Water car park, free.
Refreshments: Embsay and Skipton.
Tourist and public transport information: Skipton TIC, Town Hall, Skipton 01756 792809.
Map: Drawn from OS Explorer OL2 Yorkshire Dales southern.
Difficulty: Moderate if fine.
Please observe the Country Code and park sensibly. While every effort is made to provide accurate information, walkers set out at their own risk.