white horse logo

Menu:

National Parks

| 2001 walks | 2002 walks | 2003 walks | 2004 walks |
| 2005 walks | 2006 walks | 2007 walks | 2008 walks |
| 2009 walks | 2010 walks | 2011 walks | 2012 walks |
| 2013 walks | 2014 walks | 2015 walks | 2016 walks |
| 2017 walks | 1993-2000 library | Find a Route |
| A few Routes to print out | Request a Route... |

Route No 258 - Wednesday 16 July 2008
Barden reservoirs,
Broad Park Moor circuit - 10km
Wharfedale,
Yorkshire Dales. . .

Ordnance Survey route map on the Landranger series map base
View the route in Google Earth
Map: OS Explorer OL2 Yorkshire Dales Southern & Western areas


Broad Park House near the Lower Barden Reservoir dam
Broad Park House near the Lower Barden Reservoir dam

A family living in Sydney, Australia had asked us to take some photographs of Broad Park House near the end of the Lower Barden Reservoir dam, where a realative of theirs had lived in the 1950's when he was the head game keeper for the Duke of Devonshire's Bolton Abbey estate. We had contacted the Bolton Abbey estate office and the people there had been most helpful by giving us permission to take the photos and by giving us some additional information about the head keeper at that time.

This morning we, that's Jim, Peter and myself (we all live in the same street), drove to map ref. SE037554. This is on a minor road between Embsay and Barden Bridge, near a cattle grid a few hundred metres from a trig point at Halton Height on the edge of Barden Moor. We had planned a walk of about 10km taking us past both Lower Barden Reservoir and Upper Barden Reservoir. We had a particular reason for choosing this location.

Broad Park House near the Lower Barden Reservoir dam
Broad Park House near the Lower Barden Reservoir dam

Heading East from the cattle grid on the road near Halton Height, towards Middle Hare Head
Heading East from the cattle grid on the road near Halton Height, towards Middle Hare Head
Heading West towards Broad Park House and Lower Barden Reservoir
Heading West towards Broad Park House and Lower Barden Reservoir

Drowned newborn rabbit, discarded by its parents after the heavy rain
Drowned newborn rabbit, discarded by its parents after the heavy rain

After about 350m we reached the road where we turned right to walk down the road for about 150m to a track on the left. We went through the gate and walked along this track towards Broad Park House at map ref. SE036561. At the house we stopped and I took a series of photographs for the Australian family in Sydney.

We started walking at about 10.00am heading East on a path that leads down to Bolton Abbey. After about 500m, at map ref. SE044554 we turned left to go down the hillside on a narrow path. The start of the path is easy to miss but it became much more defined almost as soon as we were on it.

Crossing tracks near the end of Lower Barden Reservoir dam
Crossing tracks near the end of Lower Barden Reservoir dam

Looking back over Lower Barden Reservoir towards Appletreewick and  Simons Seat
Looking back over Lower Barden Reservoir towards Appletreewick and Simons Seat

A motorised valve or penstock on an aqueduct from the upper Barden Reservoir
A motorised valve on an aqueduct from the upper Barden Reservoir

Just after we crossed the stream at the head of Lower Barden Reservoir one of the heavy showers was starting as we came to a shelter built against a rocky outcrop. This kept us dry until the shower was over. We took the opportunity to have a drink before pressing on up the track to Upper Barden Reservoir once the rain had stopped.

Afterwards we continued along the track and above the southern edge of Lower Barden Reservoir until we crossed the stream feeding into the head of the reservoir. The weather was very changeable with heavy squally showers and bright intervals with a strong wind. The clouds were moving fast so it changed from wet gloom to broken cloud and sunshine in a few minutes.

A handy shelter we reached just as a heavy shower began
A handy shelter we reached just as a heavy shower began

View from the shelter back over Lower Barden reservoir
View from the shelter back over Lower Barden reservoir
Track climbing up to Upper Barden Reservoir
Track climbing up to Upper Barden Reservoir
View from the track climbing up to Upper Barden Reservoir
View from the track climbing up to Upper Barden Reservoir
View from the track climbing up to Upper Barden Reservoir
View back to Lower Barden Reservoir from the track climbing up to Upper Barden Reservoir

Still climbing up to Upper Barden Reservoir
Still climbing up to Upper Barden Reservoir

We explored the lee side of a stone outbuilding and were happy to find a very old plank raised up on a series of large stones to make a long bench with the wall of the building as a back rest. We stopped there in the shelter of the building to have our lunch, quite a comfortable, dry spot.

It was about 1.5km to the dam at Upper Barden Reservoir and from the shelter the track climbed about 150m, an average gradient of one in ten all the way, not too steep but a bit of a long drag. At the dam we could see another shower heading towards us.

Reservoir keeper's house at the Upper Barden Reservoir
Reservoir keeper's house at the Upper Barden Reservoir

The overflow spillway from Upper Barden Reservoir
The overflow spillway from Upper Barden Reservoir

Just at the end of the dam the track crosses a small stream at map ref. SE013575 there is a path to the left heading Southeast roughly following the 350m contour line.

After our lunch when the rain had stopped again we crossed the dam on the water company permissive footpath.

The draw-off tower out in Upper Barden Reservoir
The draw-off tower out in Upper Barden Reservoir

Upper Barden Reservoir seen from the dam
Upper Barden Reservoir seen from the dam
Path from the end of the dam Southeast roughly along the 350m contour
Path from the end of the dam Southeast roughly along the 350m contour
Path from the end of the dam Southeast roughly along the 350m contour
Path from the end of the dam Southeast roughly along the 350m contour
Path from the end of the dam Southeast roughly along the 350m contour
Path from the end of the dam at Upper Barden Reservoir heading Southeast roughly along the 350m contour

A last look over Broad Park House from our finish near Halton Height
A last look over Broad Park House from our finish near Halton Height

We had escaped the worst of the showers and it had been a very pleasant day out. We stopped for a coffee and a snack on the way home just to keep the tradition going.The following day I sent the photographs of Broad Park House to the family in Sydney and they were very pleased with them, so that was a relief!

After about 1.5km this path joins a grouse shooters' track at map ref. SE022563. We then followed this track back to the cattle grid on the road where we had started. the whole route had been about 10km and had taken us four hours to walk including our breaks and a pause for photographs at Broad Park House.

Grouse shooters' track heading back to Halton Height
Grouse shooters' track heading back to Halton Height

Background Notes:
This walk is quite short, 10km or about 6 miles, but it's over some high moorland where it's easy to get into difficulties if the weather turns bad. The route starts from a little parking area below Halton Heights on a minor road that climbs up from Wharfedale near Barden Tower and crosses the moor to drop down to the village of Embsay. From the parking area we walk down the road to a cattle grid and follow a path down the hillside. We join an access road to Lower Barden Reservoir that goes past Broad Park House. This house is the reason I first walked this route about 5 years ago. Through my web site I had received a request from a family who live in Sydney, Australia. The grandmother of this family had emigrated when she was a young girl and now she was approaching her eightieth birthday. She had a recollection of being taken as a child to visit her grandfather who lived at Broad Park House, and the family wanted to get some photos of the house and its setting in the countryside to use as part of a photo album of the grandmother's life for her birthday. I made some enquiries and the Bolton Abbey Estate Office were very helpful. It turned out that the lady's grandfather was a renowned Head Game Keeper for the estate in the period before the second world war. I emailed my photos of the house and its surroundings to Sydney and the family were very pleased with the results. From the house we follow a mixture of public footpaths, permissive paths and open access land for the rest of the route. We skirt the edge of Lower Barden Reservoir and cross Barden Beck. The whole vast area of moorland here is the catchment of Barden Beck with Cracoe Fell & Rylestone Fell rising up to the north east and to the north of them is the summit of Thorpe Fell at a little over 500m. We climb up from Barden Beck to join an access track that winds its way up the moor above the beck to the dam of Upper Barden Reservoir. The two Barden Reservoirs, and several others, were built by Bradford Corporation in the 1800's to meet the demand for clean water not only from the growing urban population but also from their burgeoning woollen industry. Indeed so much wool was being processed that the Bradford Corporation built a special plant at the huge Esholt sewage treatment works to extract a constituent called lanolin from the natural oil washed out from the fleeces. It is a valuable commodity used in the manufacture of soap amongst other things, and for a time was quite profitable. The plant closed at the end of the 1970's. We cross the crest of the dam of the Upper Barden Reservoir along a Water Company permissive path, and once across the dam we turn right to follow a path across open access land climbing diagonally up the moorland hillside. The path is rather indistinct in places and it may be wise to use a compass to keep in the right direction. At this time of year the grouse shooting is over by now for this season but the land owner has the right to close the access land for a limited number of days each year when a shoot is in progress. This season there were closures in October 2012 but I don't believe there are any closures planned just now. There's information about closures on the Yorkshire Dales National Park web site. After about one and a half kilometres across open access land from the dam we join a moorland access track with a public right of way along it that leads us back to the minor road and the parking area where the walk started.

top of page