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Looking across the valley of How Stean Beck from the Nidderdale Way climbing up the hillside towards Middlesmoor
Looking across the valley of How Stean Beck from the Nidderdale Way climbing up the hillside towards Middlesmoor

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Route No. 647 - Thursday 10 November 2016
How Stean Gorge, Middlesmoor, Smithfield Hall,
Netherside Head Farm, Limley Farm,
Nidderdale Way, Lofthouse circuit - 7km
Nidderdale (AONB) . . .

Route map from Ordnance Survey Open Space service.

Map: OS Explorer 298 Nidderdale


Looking across Nidderdale to the hills above Lofthouse from the car park at the start of our walk
Looking across Nidderdale to the hills above Lofthouse from the car park at the start of our walk

Road bridge over How Stean Beck at the start of our walk
Road bridge over How Stean Beck at the start of our walk

There was a good weather forecast for today. We had left the foggy Vale of York behind into bright sunshine and a covering of snow still lying from the fall earlier in the week. We set off from the car park along the road towards the village of Stean. After about 400m we turned right off the road at the entrance to the How Stean Gorge tourist attraction.

This morning my friend, Jim, and I drove out to Pateley Bridge and along the narrow winding road up Nidderdale to Lofthouse. Just beyond Lofthouse along the road to Middlesmoor we turned left along the road to Stean and after about 200m we pulled into the public car park on the right hand side of the road at map ref. SE 097 733.

Following the road to How Stean Gorge
Following the road to How Stean Gorge

Turning right off the road into the How Stean Gorge tourist attraction site
Turning right off the road into the How Stean Gorge tourist attraction site

How Stean Gorge from the bridge over How Stean Beck
How Stean Gorge from the bridge over How Stean Beck

About to turn left at the stone barn
About to turn left at the stone barn

Public footpaths & bridleways normally go across private land so we were not put off by the notice and halfway down the notice it does acknowledge that the public footpath goes through the gate. We continued through the gate and across the field to the left hand corner next to a stone barn. Here we went through a gate on our left and continued across the next two fields with the field boundary about 25m to our right.

There is a public footpath through the How Stean Gorge site but it was not easy to follow partly due to the lying snow hiding any paths on the ground. We crossed the bridge over How Stean Beck and continued through the car park area up to the wall at the top of a small bank. We walked along the wall to a gate in the corner on our right. The Public footpath goes through this gate with its notice headed 'Private Land'.

Route of the public footpath away from How Stean Gorge
Route of the public footpath away from How Stean Gorge

Footpath about 25m from the field edge on our right
Footpath about 25m from the field edge on our right

Looking back, past the little stone barn, across Nidderdale
Looking back, past the little stone barn, across Nidderdale

The gate with orange arrows pained on it and on the gate post
The gate with orange arrows pained on it and on the gate post

Nidderdale Way going up the hill with the wall on our left
Nidderdale Way going up the hill with the wall on our left

The Nidderdale Way then turns up the hillside following the wall side. From the stile we followed the Nidderdale Way up the hillside to a stile at the top of the field. Looking back from the stile across the valley of How Stean Beck there was a lovely view of the snow covered hills in the bright sunshine.

The gate at the end of the second field has two large arrows, one painted on the gate and one painted on the stone gate post showing the path going straight ahead. We crossed thee field to a stile in the wall at the far side of the field. There is a finger post here indicating that the Nidderdale Way comes through the stile.

Stile where we turned right along the Nidderdale Way
Stile where we turned right along the Nidderdale Way

Looking down Nidderdale from the footpath
Looking down Nidderdale from the footpath

Looking back across the valley of How Stean Beck
Looking back across the valley of How Stean Beck

Stile onto the road below Middlesmoor
Stile onto the road below Middlesmoor

The road leaving Middlesmoor
The road leaving Middlesmoor

Footpath across the fields to the end of a small plantation
Footpath across the fields to the end of a small plantation

So today we decided to turn left and follow the road into Middlesmoor village. On the northern edge of the village at map ref. SE 091 742, we turned right off the road (leaving the Nidderdale Way route) and then left through a pedestrian gate to a footpath across the fields. The path took us past the end of a small plantation on our right.

From the stile we continued along the edge of the next field to the road at map ref. SE 091 740. There is a footpath through the field gate opposite by a stone barn. This path leads to Middlesmoor church and is a good route to take with a lovely view down Nidderdale from the churchyard, but the snow was starting to melt and it was quite hard work progressing across the steep ground with wet snow over soft mud.

The road into Middlesmoor
The road into Middlesmoor

Turning off the road at the edge of Middlesmoor
Turning off the road at the edge of Middlesmoor

Footpath past a small plantation
Footpath past a small plantation

Looking across Nidderdale on our right
Looking across Nidderdale on our right to Lofthouse Moor above Thrope Plantation and Thrope Edge

Our path passed in front of Smithfield Hall
Our path passed in front of Smithfield Hall

Access track heading for Netherside Head
Access track heading for Netherside Head Farm

At the corner of How Gill Plantation, map ref. SE 095 755, about 500m beyond Netherside Head Farm we passed through the gate across the track and at once turned right to go through a gate into the field next to the track.

From the plantation we continued past Smithfield Hall farm on our right and on across the fields to a farm access track at map ref. SE 093 749, next to Northside Head Plantation. We followed the farm access track past Netherside Head Farm and on towards How Gill Plantation.

Path from Smithfield Hall to Northside Hrad Plantation
Path from Smithfield Hall to Northside Head Plantation


Track heading up Nidderdale from Netherside Head Farm

Gate across the track at the corner of How Gill Plantation
Gate across the track at the corner of How Gill Plantation

Our right turn off the track at How Gill Plantation
Our right turn off the track at How Gill Plantation

Heading down the hillside towards Limley Farm
Heading down the hillside towards Limley Farm

We continued to a stile at a corner in the wall on our right. We passed through the stile and followed the path across the fields through a series of stiles to the Yorkshire Water access road at map ref SE 099 758 above Limley Farm.

The path kept near to the field wall on our right, to avoid a steep bank in the field, and then the path bent round to our left to cross a small stream called How Gill, that flows down the middle of the field.

Dropping down to cross How Gill
Dropping down to cross How Gill

Heading down the hillside towards Limley Farm
Heading down the hillside towards Limley Farm

Crossing the Yorkshire Water access road down to Limley Farm
Crossing the Yorkshire Water access road down to Limley Farm

Heading down to Limley Farm
Heading down to Limley Farm

Stile onto the access track through Limley Farm
Stile onto the access track through Limley Farm

Once through the gate we kept to the field boundary on our left. About 150m from the field gate the edge of the field fell away down a steep slope with the field boundary fence at the bottom.

We crossed the road and followed the footpath opposite down to Limley Farm. We crossed the stiles to the farm access track and turned right to follow the farm access track through the farm buildings to a gate out to the fields at map ref. SE 100 758.

Entering Limley Farm
Entering Limley Farm

The access track through Limley Farm, straight ahead
The access track through Limley Farm, straight ahead

Path from the field down follow to the dry bed of the River Nidd
Path from the field down to follow the dry bed of the River Nidd

Path following the dry bed of the River Nidd
Path following the dry bed of the River Nidd


Path following the dry bed of the River Nidd

Today the river bed was mostly dry with just a few pools of water standing in it. We followed the path by the river bed for about 250m to the ford at Dry Wath (map ref. SE 101 755). We cross the river bed to re-join the Nidderdale Way along the far bank of the river.

There was a pedestrian gate at the bottom of the slope leading onto a footpath on the edge of the course of the River Nidd. About 400m north of Limley Farm, at Manchester Hole, the River Nidd normally goes into a sink hole to flow underground. Only when the river flow exceeds the capacity of the sink hole does the surface flow continue downstream.

Path following the dry bed of the River Nidd
Path following the dry bed of the River Nidd


Path dropping down to cross the dry bed of the River Nidd

Looking back across the crossing point of the (almost) dry bed of the River Nidd
Looking back across the crossing point of the (almost) dry bed of the River Nidd

Passing Thrope Farm
Passing Thrope Farm

Following Thrope Lane down Nidderdale
Following Thrope Lane down Nidderdale


Following Thrope Lane down Nidderdale

From Thrope Farm we continued along Thrope Lane for about 1.4km to the road at map ref. SE 101 737 near the bottom of Trapping Hill.

We followed the broad track of the Nidderdale Way past Thrope Farm and from here the walled track is called Thrope Lane.

Following Thrope Lane down Nidderdale
Following Thrope Lane down Nidderdale towards Lofthouse

Following Thrope Lane down Nidderdale
Following Thrope Lane down Nidderdale towards Lofthouse

Following Thrope Lane down Nidderdale towards Lofthouse
Following Thrope Lane down Nidderdale towards Lofthouse

Joining the road from Thrope Lane near the bottom of Trapping Hill
Joining the road from Thrope Lane near the bottom of Trapping Hill

Following the road down the hill into Lofthouse
Following the road down the hill into Lofthouse

Here we turned right to follow a footpath along a passage and down to the River Nidd to cross an arch bridge. The River Nidd has resurfaced by this point along its course.

We followed the road down the hill to the war memorial on our right in the village at map ref. SE 101 734.

Turning right off the road at the war memorial
Turning right off the road at the war memorial

Path down to the River Nidd
Path down to the River Nidd

About to cross the bridge over the River Nidd
About to cross the bridge over the River Nidd

Arch bridge over the River Nidd
Arch bridge over the River Nidd

Path across the fields from the Yorkshire Water access road
Path across the fields from the Yorkshire Water access road

The church at Middlesmoor on our right at the top of the hill
The church at Middlesmoor on our right at the top of the hill

Happy Welcome sign - the farmer has a big caravan site
Happy Welcome sign - the farmer has a big caravan site

From the bend we walked along the road for about 100m to a right hand bend in the road. At the bend we kept straight on along the narrow lane towards the village of Stean. After about 150m along this lane we reached the car park on our left and the end of our walk. The whole route had been about 7km and it had taken us three and a half hours to walk in the wet slippery conditions.

The path across the bridge led us to the Yorkshire Water access road which we crossed and took the footpath opposite across the fields leading to the road from Lofthouse to Middlesmoor on a bend at map ref. SE 098 735. From here there was a good view of the church at Middlesmoor at the top of the hill on our right.

Re-joining the road from Lofthouse
Re-joining the road from Lofthouse

Following the lane to How Stean Gorge
Following the lane towards How Stean Gorge


Following the lane towards How Stean Gorge

Returning to the car park at the end of our walk
Returning to the car park at the end of our walk

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