North Yorkshire Walk - Nidderdale Way and Ramsgill

Nidderdale Way sign

Nidderdale Way sign - Credit: Archant

This wonderful walk makes good use of the Nidderdale Way to explore three charming villages.

Middlesmoor Chruch

Middlesmoor Chruch - Credit: Archant

The Nidderdale Way is a 53-mile-long circular path that follows the banks of the River Nidd from Ripley, near Harrogate, to the dam of Scar House Reservoir tucked away beneath the moors of the dalehead. The route is generally tackled over several days but for those with less time on their hands it also provides some excellent day walks. This one makes liberal use of the footpath to enjoy the scenic upper dale and to visit three contrasting villages.


The first of the three is Ramsgill, whose green is dominated by the ivy-clad frontage of the Yorke Arms. With your back to the Yorke Arms turn right up the dale and immediately after crossing a bridge over the Nidd on the edge of the village turn right again up a lane to Bouthwaite. After a quarter of a mile where the tarmac turns right take an unsurfaced track between the houses on the left signed Nidderdale Way to Low Sikes. As the track passes Bouthwaite Grange farm go through a gate and continue straight ahead through the next one guided by the curlew signs of the Nidderdale Way.



Cross a bridge immediately after the second gate and turn right uphill through the trees and onto a sunken way. Soon the path begins to traverse the valley sides with the upper dale opening up in front while behind there are extensive views over Gouthwaite Reservoir.

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At a gate and tall ladder stile continue up the Nidderdale Way which climbs diagonally uphill to a metal gate above Longside House. Go through this and turn left along the broad access track which crosses below an area of cleared woodland and a plantation. Where it meets a hardened track on a bend take the right hand fork uphill and just above a house take a signed gate on the left. This enclosed track finally emerges into a field. Follow the path diagonally down to the main valley road.



Cross straight over and take the path signed to Lofthouse. When it rejoins the road four fields later turn left for about 250 yards until just by the Lofthouse take the path on the right which offers a traffic-free route into the village. As the path crosses behind houses look out for a stile on the left but if you miss it a helpful sign a few yards further on will tell you where you went wrong.



The path enters the village by the memorial hall where there is another car park should Ramsgill be full. Turn right to the war memorial by a cluster of attractive cottages. Here take a path in the left hand corner signed Middlesmoor, which goes through a couple of gates to cross an appealing stone bridge. Immediately on the other side a squeeze stile on the right offers a 200-yard detour to a secluded tree-shrouded waterfall.



The main route, however, crosses the bridge and then presses ahead through another squeeze stile to cross the road to a kissing gate and across the field to another kissing gate in the corner behind the barn. Immediately afterwards turn right again through another gate uphill towards the tower of Middlesmoor Church.



At Halfway House Farm pass to the right of the house and continue between the buildings to take the left hand of two gates. The climb to the church finishes with a flight of steps and a choice of benches which enjoy one of the finest views anywhere in the Dales, a serene spot ideal for a midway picnic.



St Chad’s boasts an interesting history. It was consecrated n the 15th century but holds a carved Saxon Cross from several centuries earlier. It was also a hotbed of Catholicism even after the Reformation.



A cobbled lane leads to the main road. At the junction turn left out of the village and after a sharp left hand bend a Nidderdale Way sign points rightwards to Stean. Head down the fields and in the last one cross the wall on the right. At the bottom of the field take a gate and footbridge across How Stean Gorge and up to a lane. Turn left down this with occasional glimpses in to the gorge and eventually the pleasant surprise of a café. Where the lane turns sharp left over a bridge, carry on straight ahead towards a caravan site but at the entrance turn right between the farm buildings still on the Nidderdale Way. It briefly climbs a cobbled track until, just beyond the houses, it turns left along a farm track. After the track makes another short, steep climb the Nidderdale Way turns sharp left. Ignore the ascending farm track and instead go straight on down the valley, passing a large lone tree and heading for a gate in the far wall.



The path continues in the same general line through a string of meadows. At the next farm take a stone stile between the buildings and continue the gentle descent all the way to Ramsgill.



Compass points

Start/Finish: Ramsgill, near Pateley Bridge

Distance: 7.5miles/12km

Height gain: 600ft/185m

Time: 3-4 hours

Terrain: Farm paths and tracks, steady climb to Middlesmoor

Parking: Considerate on road parking in Ramsgill, alternative car park in Lofthouse

MAP: OS Explorer 298 Nidderdale

Refreshments: Pubs in Middlesmoor and Lofthouse and café at How Stean en route. Cafés and pubs in Pateley Bridge

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