The Head of Nidderdale


Today’s Dalesbus Walk took us right up to the head of Nidderdale where we took the circular path around Scar House Reservoir then climbed over to the hilltop village of Middlesmoor. Two of us then took the footpath down to Lofthouse where we caught the bus back to Pateley Bridge.

Main Street Pateley Bridge

Pateley Bridge on Sunday morning

Explore the wild and remote country at the head of Nidderdale before finishing in one of its highest villages.
Start: Scar House Reservoir: 11.25
Finish: Middlesmoor: Approx. 15.00
Distance/Grading: 6 miles / Moderate
TRAVEL: Outward: Bus 823/825 from Pateley Bridge (10.50).
Return: Bus 825 to Pateley Bridge, Harrogate and beyond for onward connections.
Walk Leader: Jim

Ornate waterworks

Setting off over the Scar House Dam in bright sunshine

We experienced all weathers as we circled the Scar House Reservoir which forms part of the Bradford water supply. A huge building project and feat of engineering around the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century sent water from the Nidderdale reservoirs (by gravity only – no pumping) to the city of Bradford and supplied work for hundreds of navvies :

Scar House Reservoir, Upper Nidderdale
Work on Scar House Reservoir began on 5 October
1921 and took 15 years to complete. Developing
such a vast scheme changed the landscape of Upper
Nidderdale for ever. Less than 100 years ago the
site was a noisy and dangerous work site buzzing
with activity. Huge amounts of manpower had to
be drafted in to build the reservoir and as a result a
whole village was created.

Peaceful Scar House
Now Scar House is characterised by its peace and
solitude. You can still see the remains of where the
village once stood and the landscape is scarred
by the old quarries and railway lines. With a bit of
imagination you can picture the thriving community.


Scar House sudden weather change

Weather can change suddenly!

It’s amazing to think that water piped from here eventually ends up in the taps of houses over 40 miles away by road.

The reservoir above Scar House is Angram also built to serve Bradford and completed in 1916.

Rough Angram waters

 Rough Angram Waters

Angram to Scar House

Scar House from Angram Dam

Luckily after crossing the Angram Dam there is a hut where we were able to shelter from the bitterly cold high winds to eat our lunch.

Sheltering from wind

Sheltering from the winds

View from hut

View from the hut

The walk continued to almost complete the circle round Scar House but we took a steep track (In Moor Lane – part of the Nidderdale Way) away from the reservoir and headed up and over the ridge to arrive eventually at the tiny hilltop village of Middlesmoor and the welcome log stoves and open fires of the Crown Public House.

St Chad's

St Chad’s, Middlesmoor and view to Gouthwaite

St Chad's cross

St Chad’s Cross

The cross dates from the 7th century. It commemorates St Ceadda (St Chad) leader of Celtic Christianity in the north. He was the first bishop of Lichfield and he died in AD 672. It was placed here after being discovered during restoration of the church in the early 1900s.

Path to Lofthouse

Footpath – three-quarters of a mile – to Lofthouse

After warming up by the fire and with an hour to fill before the bus was to leave Middlesmoor I decided to explore the church, enjoy the view from it (one of the best in the country according to Colin Speakman who came along on the walk) and then to head down a further three-quarters of a mile to the lower village of Lofthouse where the bus picked us up in the gloomy dusk to bring us back to Pateley Bridge.


2 comments on “The Head of Nidderdale

  1. nilly says:

    Thank you for this one – very many happy hours were spent roaming up here in the 1970s – and, later, in the late 1980s, we used to often visit a wonderful little antiques shop in Lofthouse. I can’t imagine such a shop out there now!

  2. Thanks. A shop in Lofthouse?? I don’t think so! Hope to get back again before too long.

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