One of my favourite walks in the southern Yorkshire Dales, a fascinating circuit from Embsay Reservoir taking in Crookrise Crag, Hellifield Crag, Waterfall Gill, Brown Bank and Embsay Crag.
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After a super day out in the Lake District the previous day I had another day free for walking as my wife was keen for me to be out of the house so she could pack for our holidays. I didn't want to go too far though so decided on an old favourite, a circular walk from Embsay Reservoir taking in the likes of Crookrise Crag, Waterfall Gill, Brown Bank and Embsay Crag.
The car park at the reservoir was quite busy when I arrived and I managed to nab one of the last remaining spaces. The reason for it being so busy was that the sailing club was open and there were a number of boats out on the reservoir.
"Unsurprisingly there is a waterfall in Waterfall Gill. It is just below the spot where the path fords the stream and can be well seen from the path."
Taking the track heading up the left hand side of the reservoir I enjoyed some fines views across the busy waters to Embsay Crag. At the end of the track I crossed over a stile. Leaving behind the sailing boats and dog walkers I followed a sign 'To Crookrise Crag' to take a thin path climbing up to the left.
It is a fairly straightforward climb with just one short section of peat and gritstone where the path isn't so clear. As I came up to a wall I took the first stile to cross over. I then followed a thin path between the wall on my right and the crag on my left. The views stretched across Flasby Fell to include the likes of Pendle Hill, Longridge Fell and Easington Fell.
Gradually I worked my way up to the white painted trig point on the highest point of Crookrise Crag. Sadly it doesn't have enough prominence to be classed as a summit in its own right but it is still a fabulous spot. Just behind the trig point I re-crossed the wall at another stile. Taking a thin path I then headed north with the wall on my left.
After passing the rocks at Fairies Chest I crossed a soggier section before the path gradually curved down between Hellifield Crag and Waterfall Gill. Unsurprisingly there is a waterfall in Waterfall Gill. It is just below the spot where the path fords the stream and can be well seen from the path. It has been a while since I'd last been this way and I hadn't got a decent picture of it. Therefore I scrambled down to the foot of the waterfall to spend some time taking photos.
Once I'd done I climbed back up to the path, forded the stream by hopping over rocks and then climbed up out of the gill. The thin path eventually met the Rylstone bridleway which crosses Embsay and Barden Moors. Turning right on the initially faint bridleway I followed it as it climbed steadily up to Brown Bank, the highest point of the walk. A brief detour from the path led me to the two large boulders that lay claim to be the highest point. In my opinion the easternmost of the two is the highest.
Returning to the bridleway I then crossed straight over to take a thin path heading across Embsay Moor. Although thin the path was fairly easy to follow. After a while Embsay Crag came into view. The path wound its way down to arrive at a junction above a gate. Here I turned right on a broader path for a straightforward and easy climb on to Embsay Crag. The profile of the crag from this angle was quite impressive and there were also some super views south over Airedale.
It was a windy day so I didn't linger long at the exposed summit of Embsay Crag. The initial descent was quite steep but was relatively easy. I followed the path all the way to the stile I'd crossed at the start of the walk. Crossing over on to the track it would have been quickest to retrace my earlier steps to the start. Instead I decided to take the permissive path around Embsay Reservoir. To do this I passed through a gate on the left. The fine path led me around the northern shores of the reservoir to a gate at the eastern end of the reservoir dam. It was then a short walk along the dam back to the car park.
This is one my favourite walks in the area, the views are superb and there are a number of interesting features. One recommended addition to the route would be to make a detour to the Rylstone Cross from the bridleway north of Waterfall Gill. On this particular occasion the changeable weather added drama and colour to the views that were already enhanced by the purpling moorland heather.