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Path along the embankment between the River Washburn and the mill pond called Low Dam
Path along the embankment between the River Washburn and the mill pond called Low Dam

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Route No. 764 - Thursday 7 March 2019
Blubberhouses, Washburn Valley, Thruscross Dam,
Kex Gill Road, Hall Lane circuit - 8km
Wharfedale . . .

Route map from Ordnance Survey Open Space service.

Map: OS Explorer 297 Lower Wharfedale & Washburn Valley


Setting off from the Yorkshire Water car park at Blubberhouses on the A59 at the head of Fewston Reservoir
Setting off from the Yorkshire Water car park at Blubberhouses on the A59 at the head of Fewston Reservoir

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Crossing the A59 from the car park
Crossing the A59 from the car park

Permissive path by the River Washburn from Blubberhouses
Permissive path by the River Washburn from Blubberhouses

From the bottom of the steps we set off along a permissive path following the river upstream. After no more than 150m the path passed between the river bank and the village cricket field with a pavilion in the far corner. In the 1800's this cricket field was the site of a large flax mill driven by water power. The old mill pond, called Low Dam, and the mill race from it can still be seen by the permissive path as we made our way up the valley.

It was a very gloomy day today and the weather forecast was for showers passing through all morning and into the afternoon with gusty winds. We still decided to have a walk! We drove to the Yorkshire water car park at the head of Fewston Reservoir at Blubberhouses on the A59 at map ref. SE 168 553. From the car park we crossed the A59 to some steps down the eastern side of the road bridge over the River Washburn.

Steps from the A59 down to the riverside path
Steps from the A59 down to the riverside path

Permissive path by the River Washburn from Blubberhouses
Permissive path by the River Washburn from Blubberhouses

At the foot of the line of trees is the mill race from Low Dam mill pond to the flax mill at Blubberhouses
At the foot of the line of trees is the mill race from Low Dam mill pond to the flax mill at Blubberhouses

The rocks divert the current into mid-stream to reduce erosion
The rocks divert the current into mid-stream to reduce erosion

Path beside Low Dam mill pond
Path beside Low Dam mill pond

Remains of a weir used to divert water into the higher mill race
Remains of a weir used to divert water into the higher mill race

We continued along the riverside permissive path in the rain that had been with us since the start of the walk, but we were quite sheltered under the trees by the river. We passed the mill pond called Low Dam and had a quick look at the two channels bringing water to Low Dam and High Dam respectively.

We were puzzled by a second mill race a few metres higher up the valley side, but some investigation when I returned home revealed that a second mill had been built at the what is now Scaife Hall Farm. The higher mill race fed water into High Dam next to the site of the farm to power the second mill.

Riverside path heading for Low Dam mill pond
Riverside path heading for Low Dam mill pond

Mill race to High Dam is on the embankment right of the path
Mill race to High Dam is on the embankment right of the path

Mill race to High Dam on a bank right of our the path
Mill race to High Dam on a bank right of our the path

Low Dam mill pond seen from the path about 500m earlier in our walk
Low Dam mill pond seen from the path about 500m earlier in our walk

Footbridge over the River Washburn
Footbridge over the River Washburn

Looking downstream from the footbridge
Looking downstream from the footbridge

Ahead we could see the high concrete dam at Thruscross Reservoir. Today all five spillway channels over the crest of the dam we flowing, an indication of how much rain we have had.

A little further on we came to a footbridge over the River Washburn and we followed the path across it and up to a water company access road to the dam at Thruscross Reservoir.

Looking upstream from the footbridge
Looking upstream from the footbridge

Path from the footbridge to the water company access road
Path from the footbridge to the water company access road

Thruscross Reservoir dam with all five spillways running
Thruscross Reservoir dam with all five spillways running

Footpath up to the top of the dam from the access road gate
Footpath up to the top of the dam from the access road gate

Last few steps to the road across the dam
Last few steps to the road across the dam

The road up from the dam
The road up from the dam

The path took us to the road at the western end of the dam where we looked out across the reservoir before turning left and walking along the road. We followed the road up past the entrance to a public car park and continued in the incessant rain for about 350m to a 'T'-junction.

There was a locked gate across the access road about 200m from the dam and the public footpath continued from the left hand side of the access road up the hillside with a good view of the dam to our right.

Thruscross dam seen from the path up the side of the dam
Thruscross dam seen from the path up the side of the dam

Looking across Thruscross Reservoir from the road over the dam
Looking across Thruscross Reservoir from the road over the dam

Passing the car park entrance near the Thruscross Dam
Passing the car park entrance near the Thruscross Dam

About to turn right at the road junction
About to turn right at the road junction

About to turn left off the road on to open access land
About to turn left off the road on to open access land

Crossing the rough, wet open access land
Crossing the rough, wet open access land

We kept within 10m of the dry stone wall on our right. After about 300m we came to the end of the open access land and joined a public footpath coming in on our left from Redshaw Hall. Away to our left on a low ridge we could see the rocky outcrop of Brandrith Crags.

At this junction we turned right and after about 25m we turned left off the road to go through a field gate into an area of open access land. It was wet rough ground as we made our way across the open access land.

Field gate off the road on to open access land
Field gate off the road on to open access land

Brandrith Crags seen through the rain across Redshaw Gill
Brandrith Crags seen through the rain across Redshaw Gill

Joining the public footpath from Redshaw Hall at the end of the open access land
Joining the public footpath from Redshaw Hall at the end of the open access land

Following the public footpath to the road
Following the public footpath to the road

After about 450m we came to a minor road at map ref. SE 143 566. At the road we turned left and walked along the road into the wind and the rain.

We were more exposed to the wind now and the rain seemed to be even heavier. We followed the public footpath with the dry stone wall on our right.

A stark warning to dog owners
A stark warning to dog owners

Walking along the road into the wind and the rain
Walking along the road into the wind and the rain

Following the road towards Kex Gill Road
Following the road towards Kex Gill Road

Turning left at the bend to follow Kex Gill Road track
Turning left at the bend to follow Kex Gill Road track

On the way down the cloud broke and the sun came out
On the way down the cloud broke and the sun came out

As we walked down the Kex Gill Road track the cloud began to break and by the time we had walked the 1.75km down the hillside to Hall Lane the rain had stopped and there were patches of blue sky.

We followed the road for just over 1km to a right hand bend in the road where it becomes Kex Gill Road. At this bend we turned left onto a public bridleway along the Kex Gill Road track heading down the hillside.

Following the road towards Kex Gill Road
Following the road towards Kex Gill Road

Access track down to Hall Lane at Blubberhouses
Following Kex Gill Road down to Hall Lane at Blubberhouses

On the way down the cloud broke and the sun came out
On the way down the cloud broke and the sun came out

Gate from the Kex Gill Road track on to Hall Lane at the edge of Blubberhouses
Gate from the Kex Gill Road track on to Hall Lane at the edge of Blubberhouses

Joining Hall Lane from the track, Kex Gill Road
Joining Hall Lane from the track, Kex Gill Road

Passing Blubberhouses Hall along Hall Lane
Passing Blubberhouses Hall along Hall Lane

The whole route had been 8km and it had taken us about two and a half hours to walk including a few short stops to look at the mill races in the Washburn Valley.

We walked along Hall Lane past Blubberhouses Hall. We continued along the road over Hall Beck to the junction with the A59. We crossed the A59 back to the entrance to the water company car park and the end of our walk.

Walking along Hall Lane into Blubberhouses
Walking along Hall Lane into Blubberhouses

Blubberhouses Church seen over the tree tops from Hall Lane
Blubberhouses Church seen over the tree tops from Hall Lane

Returning to the water company car park off the A59 at the end of our walk
Returning to the water company car park off the A59 at the end of our walk

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