I was hoping by July I would be able to ditch the cool wet weather walking kit and be striding out in glorious summer sunshine and have a wide choice of locations to visit. Days and days of poor weather and rain were hampering my decisions, I planned, re-planned and planned again and finally, thanks Phil, I reached a conclusion that would work whatever the weather threw at me and crucially wouldn't involve a long drive leaving me feeling frustrated by low cloud and no big summit views. I chose to stay fairly local and I selected another brilliant Yorkshire Water Reservoir, Thruscross in Nidderdale. This reservoir is to be found in the beautiful Washburn Valley just north of Otley and Blubberhouses and is the highest of a chain of three reservoirs in the area.
This place has some fairly recent eerie history, it's construction was completed in 1966 and required flooding the partly derelict village of West End. There is evidence of the past dotted around the reservoir, like the fragments of the old Flax Mill and many sections of drystone wall that meet the water and then serve no real purpose. On occasions, in the past, when there have been very hot dry summers and the water level drops dramatically, more features of the village become evident. For this reason the reservoir has an interesting literary link. Peter Robinson, author of the highly popular Inspector Banks series of novels, in 1999 published 'In a Dry Season' which is based on the history of the Reservoir. Using poetic licence, in the novel, he writes about the discovery of human remains in the reservoir once the water level dropped. I was sincerely hoping the day wouldn't hold any nasty surprises like that for me, it actually turned out the surprise of the day was the pleasant weather, which started off well and continued to be surprisingly clement all day and was warm and sunny in the main.
I arrived at the spacious Yorkshire Water car park, booted and brewed up and then off. This time I had no map, I would be following the clear path around the reservoir. If you wish to take one with you you will need an OS Explorer 297, there are a number of good connecting walks so it might be useful if you'd like to include the reservoir in a larger walk.
The first, and only, view of the reservoir and the spillway dam from the car park at the far end.
The instructions on the car park sign were simple enough, stick to the path, follow the black arrows and keep the reservoir to your right..... So off I went, venturing out of the car park entrance, I crossed the road following the black arrow marker into the woods.
As I walked a little way into the wood I could see sparkling glimpses of the reservoir.
I then found a little clearing in the trees and a little beach, a good spot to view the expanse of water in the reservoir for the first time and I got a good second look at the impressive Spillway dam.
When I continued along the path I was treated to many lovely views across the reservoir.
There was a large number of the beautiful Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea) flower spikes along this first section of path.
The path only had a few short sections of relatively easy gradient.
The clearings along the path opened up beautiful views.
There were lovely little green glens with tiny gills running through them.
I found a place to get closer to the reservoir edge to see out across the water.
I was beginning to see the reminder of the site's past. I had a good look around the dilapidated fragments of the Flax Mill.
The pathway then borders lush open fields.
And over the 'Fairy Bridge' as Peter Robinson calls it in his book.
More green fields to my left.
Through bracken and passed a couple of lovely, typical Yorkshire Dales barns.
Another derelict rural stone dwelling can be seen from the path.
As I walked through another area of woodland, which was mainly coniferous, I found a good example of a forestry management technique, girdling. A sustainable method of killing a tree prior to it being felled. I presume this small area of trees were being cleared to either create a vista or to enable more broadleaf trees to be planted.
The path then took me up a short, muddy, steep section passed possibly one of the oldest Rowan (Sorbus aucuparia) trees I have ever seen, surprisingly it's still alive!
While crossing over a little footbridge I looked up to see this tiny but lovely cascade.
The path continues to lead down through the lower area of wood, into some beautiful pools of dappled sunshine.
The path took me along the banks of the River Washburn.
I stopped while crossing over the next footbridge to look at the Washburn River and up the valley.
I loved the little crag at the top of the only real ascent of the day. So I stopped, perched, put MDB up and took in the view.
The walk took me across a lovely little bit of moorland, despite the recent wet weather the sun was shining and sky blue and thankfully the ground was not at all boggy.
Looking over the bracken towards the tree line that marks the reservoir shoreline. I carried on remembering from the rudimentary map back on the car park information board I would be taken back towards the reservoir at the far end of the woodland.
The Bracken and the previous Ling Heather was teaming with butterflies, not sure which type this one is but it kindly chose to take five on my finger while obligingly posing for a couple of shots.
The path lead back to the shore of the reservoir and the sun shone and the light danced on the water.
As I wandered along the green was punctuated with beautiful blue harebells.
The route along this section is simply lovely.... Thought, like the butterfly, I'd take five too.
The largest beach on the route so far had some impressive pieces of unintentionally artfully placed driftwood.
The walked continued through a more recently planted section and had a wealth of flora, including this perfect Marsh Orchid (Dactylorhiza sp).
The final leg of the route takes you back out on the road.... Care must be taken at this point.
The road bends round to the left and then a-top the impressive spillway dam.
The views from the spillway dam, over the water, were staggering.... To think there is a village under there!
The view on the other side was dizzying and all I could think was 'I wonder who cuts all that grass?!'
Over the spillway dam, the car park was the next stop. A quick brew, in the sun, sat on a bench hidden at the far corner of the car park was a super end to the afternoon's walk.
In no way was this location eerie, Peter Robinson stylee, far from it it was very much alive and abundant in flora and fauna, and for me a lovely spot close to home. I shall be visiting it again very soon. I didn't see any Angling in action but I believe it is increasing popular at Thruscross for the more tenacious lovers of the sport, containing, in the main, Wild Brown Trout..... I couldn't think of a nicer place to cast a fly!
Till next time.... Tight laces! MDB x