27 Ilkley – Pateley Bridge

Ilkley to Pateley Bridge 18.5 miles (29.6Km.)

Leaving Denton with Ilkley in the distance

Leaving Denton with Ilkley in the distance

Having obtained my £2.00 ‘Meal Deal’ from the Co-op I set off book in hand, as departure from a town or village can be tricky to locate until I become orientated. I plan the sections well in advance of the actual walk and had decided to take some liberties with the guide, more of that later. The town guide standing in front of the towered parish church highlights the old bridge over the Wharfe so I walk through the park to take a look. How lucky are the folk of Ilkley to have this open green riverside space unlike the industrial Yorkshire towns that are only now gaining access to their riversides as redevelopment takes place.

From grass to Denton Moor

From grass to Denton Moor

Accidentally I miss out the northern riverside walk but gain a view of the splendid Lido which looks as impressive, even empty, in real life as it does in plan on the map. I was looking forward to Denton, home being close to Denton Lincolnshire, but there was not a lot to see save the Powder Puff surrounded by a clutter of signs and inappropriate flower containers. Climbing beyond the village a backward glance offers a view of the previously hidden church and beyond, Ilkley, with it’s backdrop of the moor. Above me serenely circling, a Red Kite with its distinctive forked tail.

Planning dispute? a barn or house near Sourby

Planning dispute? a barn or house near Sourby

The first of many attractive fingerposts bearing the carved logo “Nidderdale – Area of outstanding Natural Beauty” directs me into the countryside proper, first passing sheep grazing in green pasture before a ladder stile takes me onto the brown open Denton Moor, this is not Lincolnshire. There are black dash path lines across this area which I should have spotted during the planning stage. These are the paths to follow not the Definitive lines which were presumably drawn in haste and error as they fail to record the path folk actually used and still use. The owners of the isolated cottage at Ellercar must feel vulnerable in their remote location as CCTV watches over the approach road which I follow back towards less hostile surroundings. But there in the distance wider security could be the concern for the huge white golf balls reflecting the sun like a cluster of moons.

An improved path through Beecroft Moor Plantation

An improved path through Beecroft Moor Plantation

The inaccuracy of the background mapping of my old Garmin is proved as I disappear into the waters of Fewston Reservoir while still on a firm dry footpath. Blubberhouses suggests habitation and it’s lunch time but there’s little on offer here unless you have a car to park. Today the river Washburn is just a dripping tap from the sluice at Thruscross dam but there is evidence of mans intervention with huge boulders placed strategically, I assume, to excite the water and challenge the canoeist when this tiny river becomes “Yorkshire’s Premier White Water Facility”.

Washburn valley from Thruscross dam

Washburn valley from Thruscross dam

I stray from the path approaching the water tower to recce the pub at the cross roads but this being Monday lunch time I’m not surprised to find it deserted. Another Nidderdale sign sets me off to Padside Green but assistance on the ground soon vanishes and the guide says, ” The route now becomes a little tricky!” Here we are fourteen years on and this is a problem not yet resolved by those with a duty to “To assert and protect the rights of the public….” (Highway Act 1980 section 130) still I got through unscathed and close to track.

Low priority for improvement at White House Farm

Low priority for improvement at White House Farm

At Heyshaw, without fanfare, I joined the Nidderdale Way but remained vigilant as our guides will endeavour to find an alternative course even with a common destination. High Crag is a well walked area so like many popular locations the well walked paths don’t follow the Definitive routes which are often neglected. Even the mapping for the Nidderdale Way is confusing with the 1:50,000 showing an inaccessible route through Guisecliff Wood and the 1:25,000 following the invisible Definitive line across the heather. I should have stuck to my plan of a visit to the Trig point then follow a worn path north to meet the Definitive line where it should meet the moor boundary, my resolve broke and I struggled through the heather trying to follow the Definitive line. The only signs to assist us reads “Warning please keep to the path dangerous crevasses”.

Pateley Bridge beyond Yorke's Folly

Pateley Bridge beyond Yorke's Folly

A pause at Yorke’s Folly and a view of today’s destination then onward along a delightful path diversion at Strikes Farm. I pass a group of team building women being macho with ropes, a collection of ‘Olde Worlde’ vans from the Oldest Sweet Shop in England before leaving the Nidderdale Way for an off road route into Pateley Bridge. Here the sun shines, flowers bloom, tea shops invite and the red socked walkers appear as if by magic, having completed their ramble well ahead of me.

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Great English Walk map of section 27

Great English Walk map of section 27

Great English Walk hills and dales of section 27

Great English Walk hills and dales of section 27

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