ON Barden Moor near Skipton lie two reservoirs. They are hidden away from any views but form the basis of an easy winter’s walk along good tracks with little climbing.

The low winter’s light enhanced my recent walk.

On the road to Bolton Abbey from Barden Tower the road climbs to nearly 1,000 feet. At its height there are 2 flattened areas where you can leave the car. The first has great views, the second a few metres downhill is where the out and inbound tracks meet. Take the track heading due west and follow it for over 1 mile. The track has views over lower Barden Reservoir on your right which is situated in a wide valley with wild moors on its far northern side. After 1 mile leave the track on a wide footpath, initially cut in to the peat and follow this along flat ground for a further 1 mile. This track ends when you meet the dam at the South West corner of Upper Barden Reservoir.

The Northern Echo: Embsay MoorEmbsay Moor

The 2 reservoirs ultimately serve Bradford, the water is actually pumped down to Bolton Abbey before pumped back up hill to Chalker Reservoir. From there it is held till used. I must say when passing Chalker Reservoir I have never seen particularly low water (as elsewhere) , Bradford may yet not die of thirst. On arrival at the dam there is a plethora of signs amongst the stone pens. Take the simple approach and cross the dam and be confronted with a grand Gothic style house. (There is a similar one at the Lower Reservoir). Built when the reservoirs were built in the 1880s it does beg the question as to why water board officials need battlements on their house!

There is an option to walk around the reservoir but I headed past the house and took the middle track/road, heading towards the lower reservoir. There are some excellent views over the reservoir towards Bolton Abbey as the road bends its way east. After crossing a bridge just before the reservoir follow the track right towards the river above the reservoir. There is a ford to cross (looked quite deep to me) but a few metres downstream there is an easy crossing. Just before the ford there is a small shelter (complete with table, bench and turf roof) which must be the intriguing ‘Brass Castle’ mentioned on the O/S maps.

The Northern Echo: Embsay Moor Lower Barden looking eastEmbsay Moor Lower Barden looking east

The track continues along the west shore of Lower Barden Reservoir before reaching turning south and uphill just before arriving at the second Gothic tower. This is a permissive path (marked orange on the map) and the preferred route of Yorkshire Water. The track winds its way uphill for a final ½ mile to the cattle grid on the main road.

Jonathan Smith runs Where2walk, an outdoor business in the Yorkshire Dales. He has written his own book, the Dales 30, which describes the highest mountains in the Dales. He also runs one-day navigation courses for beginners and intermediates, and learn a skill, climb a hill weekends. To find out more details on any of the above and details of many more walks in the area visit where2walk.co.uk.

The Northern Echo: Barden ReservoirsBarden Reservoirs

Fact Box:

Distance: Roughly 5.5 miles.

Height to Climb: 160m (5250 feet)

Start: SE 038556. There parking at the cattle grid just east of the road high poin..

Difficulty: Medium. The tracks are good but this is remote country, you will not meet many others.

Refreshments: Drive back to Embsay for the nearest pubs. .

The route description and sketch map only provide a guide to the walk. You must take out and be able to read a map (O/S Explorer OL 2) and in cloudy/misty conditions a compass (essential on this walk). You must also wear the correct clothing and footwear for the outdoors. Whilst every effort is made to provide accurate information, walkers head out at their own risk.

Please observe the Countryside Code and park sensibly.