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Embsay Crag overlooking Embsay Reservoir
Embsay Crag overlooking Embsay Reservoir

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Route No. 536 - Thursday 13 March 2014
Embsay Reservoir, Embsay village, Eastby, Eastby Gate,
Hutchen Gill Head, Embsay Moor, Embsay Crag circuit
11km - Skipton, Yorkshire Dales . . .

Route map from Ordnance Survey Open Space service.

Map: OS Explorer OL2 Yorkshire Dales Southern & Western areas


Leaving the car park at Embsay Reservoir
Leaving the car park at Embsay Reservoir

Geese sharing the sheep pasture
Geese sharing the sheep pasture

Following the lane into Embsay
Following the lane into Embsay

The fog was expected to clear from the hilltops during the morning but could linger in the valleys all day. When we arrived at the car park it was quite foggy and we set off along the lane from the car park to walk back into the village.

This morning my mate, Jim, and I drove to the car park at Embsay Reservoir next to the dam at map ref. SD999544. Embsay village is about 2km north East of Skipton. The weather forecast was for mist and fog this morning.

Crown Cottage Farm
Crown Cottage Farm

The lane down into Embsay village
The lane down into Embsay village

Following the road through Embsay
Following the road through Embsay

Elm Tree Square in Embsay
Elm Tree Square in Embsay


St. Mary's, the parish church in Embsay

Following Kirk Lane into Eastby
Following Kirk Lane into Eastby

In the field was one of three theodolites that we saw set out in a large triangle and a surveyor walking about with an electronic target of some kind. The theodolites seemed to be taking readings automatically each time he placed the target. We walked along the road for about 300m to a road bridge over a stream and about 100m beyond the bridge we turned left off the road into a small residential cul-de-sac called Hunters Croft.

We walked through the village past the Elm Tree Inn in Elm Tree Square and then along Main Street past the Methodist Chapel to turn left to walk along Kirk Lane for about 300m to the parish church on the left. Opposite the church we turned off the road to follow a footpath across the fields and rejoin the road (Kirk Lane) at map ref. SE014543.

Kirk Lane heading for the church
Kirk Lane heading for the church

Footpath across the fields opposite St. Mary's church
Footpath across the fields opposite St. Mary's church

Turning off Kirk Lane into Hunters Close
Turning off Kirk Lane into Hunters Close

Heading for the gate & stile on to Hunters Lane
Heading for the gate & stile on to Hunters Lane

Hunters Lane old green track climbing up towards Eastby Gate
Hunters Lane old green track climbing up towards Eastby Gate

Hunters Lane old green track climbing up towards Eastby Gate
Hunters Lane old green track climbing up towards Eastby Gate

The mist was still quite thick and we could not see to the bottom of the valley, just the mist swirling amongst the trees. From the road we followed the track for about 800m climbing up the hillside to Eastby Gate. There is a field Gate and a ladder stile here to cross the final field wall on to the open moor.

We followed a track between the houses to a gate and stile on to an old green track called Hunters Lane. Just over the stile is an information board about the Barden Moor open access area. We followed this track climbing quite steeply up the hillside with the valley of Heugh Gill below us on the left.

Hunters Lane old green track climbing up towards Eastby Gate
Hunters Lane old green track climbing up towards Eastby Gate

Hunters Lane old green track climbing up towards Eastby Gate
Hunters Lane old green track climbing up towards Eastby Gate

Arriving at Eastby Gate on the edge of barden Moor
Arriving at Eastby Gate on the edge of Barden Moor

Setting out in the mist across barden Moor
Setting out in the mist across Barden Moor

Following the line of grouse butts towards Hutchen Gill Head
Following the line of grouse butts towards Hutchen Gill Head

At Hutchen Gill Head we crossed an access track and came to an open fronted thatched shed looking out over Lower Barden Reservoir. We sat here for our lunch break with a very pleasant view as the fog bank repeatedly covered and then cleared the surrounding hill tops and ridges.

From the gate the map shows a public footpath heading straight to Hutchen Gill Head, but on the ground the path veers a little to the west and follows a line of grouse butts. At Eastby Gate we had climbed just to the top of the fog bank and gradually emerged into warm sunshine as we walked along the line of grouse butts.

Following the line of grouse butts towards Hutchen Gill Head
Following the line of grouse butts towards Hutchen Gill Head

Approaching Hutchen Gill Head
Approaching Hutchen Gill Head

Thatched hut on the old narrow gauge railway bed at Hutchen Gill Head
Thatched hut on the old narrow gauge railway bed at Hutchen Gill Head

Lower Barden Reservoir from Hutchen Gill Head
Lower Barden Reservoir from Hutchen Gill Head

Collapsed embankment on the old narrow gauge railway used for the construction of Upper Barden reservoir
Collapsed embankment on the old narrow gauge railway
used for the construction of Upper Barden reservoir

Cracoe Monument on the horizon ahead of us
Cracoe Monument on the horizon ahead of us

At the moorland access track we turned left and followed the track climbing gently up the moor for about 1.5km. The sun was quite warm now and we had taken out coats and jumpers off as we left the cold fog behind. There was a good view over Upper Barden Reservoir and out to Cracoe Monument on the far ridge ahead of us, and a view over Lower Barden Reservoir to the ridge of Simon's Seat drifting in and out of the fog bank behind us.

After our break we continued along the route of the public footpath to join a moorland access track with a bridleway along it at map ref. SE021563. This path follows the route of a narrow gauge railway used to bring supplies for the construction of the Upper Barden Reservoir in the early 1880's when there was a village of several hundred construction workers at the site on this high moor.

Path from the thatched hut to the moorland access track
Path from the thatched hut to the moorland access track

Path along the old railway bed to the moorland access track
Path along the old railway bed to the moorland access track

Moorland access track climbing up over Barden Moor
Moorland access track climbing up over Barden Moor

Fog banks swirling in and out across the hill tops behind us
Fog banks swirling in and out across the hill tops behind us

Looking along the track to Upper Barden Reservoir
Looking along the track to Upper Barden Reservoir

We turned left off the track and followed this path across a marshy area for about 400m to cross a low ridge and begin to descend towards Embsay. We continued along this path for about 1.4km dropping down across the moor with the distinctive shape of Embsay Crag growing nearer away to our right.

We passed a track on the right with a sign post to Upper Barden Reservoir and about 100m beyond there was another sign post indicating a path across Embsay Moor to Embsay village.

Sign post indicating a path across Embsay Moor to Embsay
Sign post indicating a path across Embsay Moor to Embsay

Heading across Embsay Moor with Embsay Crag in the distance
Heading across Embsay Moor with Embsay Crag in the distance

Following the path down across Embsay Moor
Following the path down across Embsay Moor

The intake wall above Embsay
The intake wall above Embsay

After about 500m we reached the top of Embsay Crag at map ref. SE004550. What a great vantage point this is with a lovely view over Embsay Reservoir and the surrounding moorland.

At map ref. SE009552, about 50m above the intake wall at the edge of the moor we turned right to follow a path climbing up towards Embsay Crag.

Following the path down across Embsay Moor
Following the path down across Embsay Moor

The path heading for Embsay Crag
The path heading for Embsay Crag


Approaching the intake wall at the edge of Embsay Moor

Looking back (East) along the path near the top of Embsay Crag
Looking back (East)along the path near the top of Embsay Crag

Embsay Reservoir from the top of Embsay Crag
Embsay Reservoir from the top of Embsay Crag

The steep rocky descent from Embsay Crag
The steep rocky descent from Embsay Crag

Joining the track near Crag Nook
Joining the track near Crag Nook

At the track we turned left to walk along the track by the western edge of the reservoir to the dam at map ref. SD999544. Here we turned off the track to walk into the car park and the end of our walk. The whole route had been 11km and it had taken us four and a half hours to walk including our stops.

After admiring the view we began the very step descent down the rocky hillside of Embsay Crag to the edge of Embsay reservoir at the footbridge over Moor Beck. From the footbridge we followed the public footpath around the reservoir to a track and small parking area near Crag Nook at map ref. SD995548.

Footbridge over Moor Beck next to the reservoir
Footbridge over Moor Beck next to the reservoir

Oysterc Catchers & Greylag Geese by the reservoir
Oyster Catchers & Greylag Geese by the reservoir

Embsay Crag seen from the car park entrance by the dam at Embsay Reservoir
Embsay Crag seen from the car park entrance by the dam at Embsay Reservoir

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