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Looking upstream from the A59 bridge over the River Nidd

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Route No. 501 - Tuesday 5 March 2013
Knaresborough, Harrogate Ringway, Nidd Gorge
Nidderdale Greenway circuit - 11km
Nidderdale . . .

Route map from Ordnance Survey Open Space service.

Map: OS Explorer 297 Lower Wharfedale & Washburn Valley


Joining the Harrogate Ringway off the A59
Joining the Harrogate Ringway off the A59

Following the Harrogate Ringway
Following the Harrogate Ringway

Horses in a field by the path
Horses in a field by the path

We walked along the river bank heading upstream for a few hundred metres and then the path turned up the hillside to climb up through the woodland and then across the fields to a road at map ref. SE333572. At the road there is the entrance to Bilton Hall on the right and the Harrogate Ringway continues straight ahead along a tarmac access road. We walked along the access road for about 500m to a track on the right at map ref. SE328573.

My wife and I drove to Knaresborough this morning and parked at the Conyngham pay & display car park by the river at map ref. SE344571 off the A59. There are public toilets at the entrance to the car park. From the car park we crossed the River Nidd on the road bridge and immediately across the bridge we turned right off the road to follow the "Harrogate Ringway" route. It's also part of the "Beryl Burton Cycleway".

Memorial to Beryl Burton by the cycleway
Memorial to Beryl Burton by the cycleway

Following the Harrogate Ringway
Following the Harrogate Ringway

Crossing the lane by the entrance to Bilton Hall
Crossing the lane by the entrance to Bilton Hall

The track to Nidd Gorge Wood
The track to Nidd Gorge Wood off Bilton Lane

The entrance to Nidd Gorge Wood
The entrance to Nidd Gorge Wood

New gravel path through the wood
Improved gravel path through the wood

River Nidd flowing through the Nidd Gorge
River Nidd flowing through the Nidd Gorge

Riverside path in Nidd Gorge
Riverside path in Nidd Gorge

At first the track followed the rim of the gorge and then about 400m from the start of the wood the path dropped steeply down the valley side to the River Nidd in the bottom. It's a lovely ancient woodland on both sides of the river with its still deep reaches and tumbling rapids. Soon we came to a footbridge across the river.

Here we turned right off the access road to follow the track to the edge of Nidd Gorge Wood about 150m away. This is a Woodland Trust wood open to the public. We continued along the track into the wood and the work of the Woodland Trust's volunteers was soon evident with improvements to the track underway.

Woodland Trust sign as we entered the wood
Woodland Trust sign as we entered the wood

Path down into Nidd Gorge
Path down into Nidd Gorge

River Nidd flowing through the Nidd Gorge
River Nidd flowing through the Nidd Gorge

Riverside path in Nidd Gorge
Riverside path in Nidd Gorge

Footbridge over the River Nidd
Footbridge over the River Nidd

Riverside path in Nidd Gorge
Riverside path in Nidd Gorge

Riverside path in Nidd Gorge
Riverside path in Nidd Gorge

River Nidd flowing through the Nidd Gorge
River Nidd flowing through the Nidd Gorge

Fly fishing in Nidd Gorge
Fishing in Nidd Gorge

About 1.5km from the footbridge the path began to climb up the hillside away from the river. There is a path continuing along the river bank but the further you go along it the more awkward it becomes. I walked some way along it to take a photo of the weir at Scotton Mill, and then returned to the steps up the hillside.

We continued along the Southern bank of the river where board walks have been provided to avoid the boggy bits. There were one or two fishermen in their chosen tranquil spots as we walked along the river bank, but very few other walkers. For the most part we had this lovely place all to ourselves.

River Nidd flowing through the Nidd Gorge
River Nidd flowing through the Nidd Gorge

Snowdrops by the path
Snowdrops by the path

Riverside path through Nidd Gorge
Riverside path through Nidd Gorge

Riverside path through Nidd Gorge
Riverside path through Nidd Gorge

The wier at Scotton Mill
The weir on the River Nidd at Scotton Mill

Step up away from the river
Step up away from the river

Dropping down to the river beyond the wier
Dropping down to the river beyond the weir

Reflections in the River Nidd
Reflections in the River Nidd

Start of the permissive path out of the wood
Start of the permissive path out of the wood

We dropped down to the river bank again and continued to walk upstream for about 600m to a little timber footbridge over a side stream. From here there is a permissive path that we followed climbing up to the disused railway at the Nidd Viaduct at map ref. SE307582.

At the top of the short climb a path goes off to the left to Bilton Lane and it was here that Jim & I had to cut short our walk last time we were here in order to get home in time for our afternoon commitments. (The photos up to this point are from that earlier visit with Jim, but from here on they are from today's visit with my wife).

Heading up river above the wier
Heading up river above the weir

Riverside path in Nidd Gorge
Riverside path in Nidd Gorge

Riverside path in Nidd Gorge
Riverside path in Nidd Gorge

woodland Trust sign as we left the wood
Woodland Trust sign as we left the wood

Permissive path up from the river to the Nidderdale Greenway along the old railway
Permissive path up from the river to the Nidderdale Greenway along the old railway

Entrance to the Nidd Viaduct on the Nidderdale Greenway
Entrance to the Nidd Viaduct on the Nidderdale Greenway

Tarmac cyleway & path along the old railway
Tarmac cycleway & path along the old railway

At the old railway we turned left away from the viaduct and walked along the newly tarmaced railway bed for about 800m to the road in Bilton at map ref. SE313576.

For many years the viaduct was closed with no public access, but now it has been opened as part of the Nidderdale Greenway cycling and walking route from Starbeck to Ripley along the bed of the disused railway line.

The Nidd Viaduct now open as a public bridleway
The Nidd Viaduct now open as a public bridleway

Tarmac cyleway & path along the old railway
Tarmac cycleway & path along the old railway

Road in Bilton where the Nidderdale Greenway along the old railway crosses
Road in Bilton where the Nidderdale Greenway along the old railway crosses

Gravel track along the old railway bed
Gravel track along the old railway bed

Bridge over the old railway bed
Bridge over the old railway bed

Crossing the railway bridge
Crossing the railway bridge

After another 800m we came to a stone bridge over the railway. There are some steps up the side of the cutting on the right hand side to join a public footpath that goes across the bridge. We climbed the steps and followed the path across the bridge.

Here we crossed the road and continued along the old railway. After about 200m the railway forks. The tarmac section goes to the right, but we continued straight on, where the old track is surfaced with gravel.

Gravel track along the old railway bed
Gravel track along the old railway bed

Steps up out of the railway cutting
Steps up out of the railway cutting

Leaving the railway bridge for Longlands farm
Leaving the railway bridge for Longlands farm

Path across the fields from Longlands farm
Path across the fields from Longlands farm

Horses at Longlands farm
Horses at Longlands farm

Path across the fields from Longlands farm
Path across the fields from Longlands farm

Stile on to the lane leading to Bilton Hall
Stile on to the lane leading to Bilton Hall

After about 1km from the farm we came to a lane at map ref. SE332569, that leads to Bilton Hall. At the lane we turned left to walk along the lane towards Bilton Hall.

We continued past Longlands farm and across the fields. Just one of these fields had clearly been under water after the terrible soaking everywhere last year and was still very boggy, but we picked our way through.

Approaching Longlands farm
Approaching Longlands farm

Path across the fields from Longlands farm
Path across the fields from Longlands farm

The lane to Bilton Hall
The lane to Bilton Hall

Rejoining the Harrogate Ringway
Rejoining the Harrogate Ringway

Returning along the Harrogate Ringway
Returning along the Harrogate Ringway

We walked along the river bank back to the A59 in Knaresborough and the car park where we had started. The whole walk had been 11km and it had taken us a little over four hours to walk the route including a short lunch stop on the river bank.

At the entrance to the hall we joined out outward route on the Harrogate Ringway at map ref. SE333572. Here we turned right to retrace our steps back down to the River Nidd.

Returning along the Harrogate Ringway
Returning along the Harrogate Ringway

View of Knaresborough from the A59 bridge
View of Knaresborough from the A59 bridge

The A59 road bridge over the River Nidd as we approached the end of our walk
The A59 road bridge over the River Nidd as we approached the end of our walk

Background Notes:
This walk starts in Knaresborough and follows an 11km circuit through the lovely Nidd Gorge Woods. We begin at the Conyngham Hall car park next to the River Nidd. The grounds of Conyngham Hall are open to the public with grassland, parkland, woodland walks and a woodland sculpture trail. From the car park we cross the River Nidd on the road bridge and turn off the road along a track along the river bank. This track is both a footpath and a cycleway. The cycleway is a four mile route into Harrogate called the Beryl Burton Cycleway in memory of the 1960's world cycling champion. The footpath here is part of the Harrogate Ringway, a 30km walk that encircles Harrogate. We follow the route of the Harrogate Ringway climbing up the hillside away from the river to Bilton Lane and along this lane for a few hundred metres. Then still following the Harrogate Ringway we turn off the lane to follow a track into the Nidd Gorge Woods. This whole site is managed by the Woodland Trust and like all their woodlands it is open to the public. It's a large area of ancient broadleaf woodland and records show that it has been woodland since at least 1600. We are just at the beginning of the Spring wild flower season so from now through into June is a good time to visit, but, well any time of year is good in this wonderful place. The path drops down to the riverside and we follow the riverside path upstream past a footbridge through the wooded gorge. The river here is popular with a fishermen and there is flyfishing for wild brown trout and good stocks of greyling. After about 2km along the riverside we come to the weir at Scotton Mill. It was a flax mill that operated throughout the first half of the 1800's. Apparently there was also another mill on the Bilton side of the river taking its water power from the same weir but all trace of that mill has now gone. The Scotton Mill building remains but it's a private house now. We continue up river for almost another kilometer to the Nidd Viaduct that used to carry the railway over the river. This has been closed for a long time but now it has been opened as a public bridleway. It's part of a project called 'The Nidderdale Greenway' largely financed by Sustrans whose interest is in promoting the construction and use of cycleways. The Nidderdale Greenway goes from Starbeck to Ripley mainly along the old railway. It's now open and work should be completed on the Ripley end this month. At the viaduct we turn along the railway heading back towards Knaresborough. Just beyond Bilton we leave the railway and walk across the fields back to Bilton Lane and retrace our steps for a little over a kilometer along the Harrogate Ringway and back to the car park at the end of our walk

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