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Grimwith Reservoir and (not) Blea Gill Waterfall Walk

Walk Summary
Distance:About seven miles (11k), with extension 12 miles(18k)
Difficulty:Easy - with extension, difficult
Start:Lay-by just past Stump Cross Caverns (SE 084 634)
Time:three or six hours

This is  a gentle stroll around Grimwith reservoir, with an extension up onto Hebdenhigh moor and round the back of Blea Gill. That's a more taxing walk and as with all walks onto the real moor tops is for experienced walkers only if the weather is anything less than perfect. Unfortunately dogs are not allowed on the parts of this walk that use access land.

Grimwith-reservoirGrimwith reservoir lies just north of the Greenhow to Grassington road and is clearly signposted . There's ample car parking and  a really nice picnic area with a clear wide path to walk round the res. So if all you want is a nice toddle round a reservoir (dogs on leads) then stop reading here, because there's no more to say.

Our walk starts  from the gravel lay-by a couple of hundred yards  beyond Stump Cross caverns. Unlike the car park at Grimwith, this one's free. Walk up the road towards Stump Cross and on the far side you'll see a clearly marked  path to Grimwith. This is a public footpath so dogs are alowed. The path goes up for a short way and you can see Grimwith below you, then it goes downhill to the shoreline. In all, about a mile in total, and conveniently marked with yellow posts where it crosses some rough ground.

Turn right and go anti-clockwise round the reservoir. It's gentle undemanding walking, with plenty of wildfowl to make it more interesting.  Continue round for about a mile and a half till you ge to the pointy end. Here two small valleys come down and meet the shoreline. The first one is Gate Up Gill and the second is Blea Gill. Our walk goes up Gate up Gill and back round the far side of  Blea Gill. This is all on public access land as designated under Crow (the Countryside and Rights of Way Act), but you wouldn't know it. The gate leading up "Gate Up Gill" is padlocked with barbed wire across the top.  There are times when I can actually hate Yorkshire Water or Kelda or whatever stupid acronym they call themselves nowadays and this is one of them.  They're quite within their legal rights to behave like this, but morally it stinks and shows just what they really think of people who want to walk in the countryside.  Note that we come back around the back of Blea Gill, as the Gill itself is not access land, and I certainly wouldn't encourage anyone to trespass in order to look at the finest waterfall this side of Swaledale. From the moment we leave the reservoir we're on access land with a no dogs restriction, so please respect that.

So, risk gouging yourselves and ripping your trousers, climb over the gate and proceed up Gate Up Gill. It's a fine broad track all the way to a magnificent disused vertical shaft. I'm not a great one on Geology even though I did get an "O" level in it, but I presume this was for coal rather than lead. At this point the track pretty much peters out and you have to carry on as best you can following the stream uphill until you reach some delightful little cascades.

Grimwith-reservoir Here is where it gets interesting . Cross the stream and head straight up the hill onto Hebdenhigh Moor. This is a steep climb, but worth it as you come out onto mile after mile of unspoilt moorland with not another soul in sight. On a clear day you can see the chimney on Grassington Moor directly East of you. If you habitually carry a compass, why not take it out now and prove you can remember how to use it..

There's no path here, so follow the escarpment round until you reach Blea Gill. You really can't go wrong as you can see the reservoir below. If you hit some newly planted trees, head into the moor a little way and round the back of them, and you'll come onto the edge of Blea Gill. The gill is not access land, so don't go into it even if you want to look at the waterfall. Instead of following the escarpment, you could do it on a compass bearing - good practice for the day you really need to do it!

However you get there, when you reach the Gill, go round the back of it and you should meet a footpath heading tangentially back round the side of the reservoir. Follow this for about half a mile and you're back on access land again.  Don't stay on the footpath as it goes away from the reservoir, but head downhill and make your way back to the reservoir any way you can. Or to put it another way, once you're round the far side of the gill, find your way back down to the reservoir by the shortest possible route.

From the reservoir continue ambling round the side, making sure you stick to the side and don't go away from the reservoir at the point where dear old Kelda have erected a forest of "keep off the grass" signs. You'll pass an extraordinarily ugly control platform which looks like part of the Maginot Line, and then reach the car park and picnic area which is actually quite nice.

Heading round further you pass the sailing club and then come to a barn which would look quite at home on the Russian Steppes. In fact it reminded me of a recreated mediaeval village I saw once in Hungary. Perhaps it's the HQ for the Kelda Cossack Dancing Troupe, or maybe it was designed by some odd Russian bloke. Who knows.

Just pass here you regain the footpath over to Stump Cross, and the walk is over.

Pictures From the Walk

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Comments (1)
car park at grimwith is free barbed wire removed from gate top (october)
posted by martyn collins 26/11/2009 15:15:52
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