Mossdale & Cotterdale

Walk Summary

A hugely enjoyable walk in upper Wensleydale visiting the valleys of Mossdale and Cotterdale along with some superb waterfalls.

Distance: 8.1 miles
Total ascent: 1330ft
Walk Rating: *****
Parking: Green, Appersett
Route: Download Route [GPX]

Photo Gallery

Walk Report

With our daughter away for three days on a school trip to the Lake District, Lisa and I decided to take a few days off for a guilt free trip to Wensleydale. Basing ourselves at the Green Dragon Inn in Hardraw, this particular walk was the first of three walks over the three days.

While we could have easily begun this walk from the Green Dragon itself, we saved ourselves a bit of road walking by starting from the nearby hamlet of Appersett. There was ample room to park alongside the green just opposite the row of houses that forms most of Appersett.

"Along the way we passed some Belted Galloways, an impressive bull (safely on the other side of a gate) and some guinea fowl."

From the green we crossed the bridge over Widdale Beck. I immediately got my 'geek on' when I spotted an Ordnance Survey flush bracket fixed to the wall on the bridge. This was a neat reminder that the OS didn't just use specially built concrete and stone columns as their trig points.

Across the bridge we took a footpath on the left which shadowed the road down to New Bridge. Upon reaching the bridge we turned left to follow a thin path alongside the River Ure. Fairly soon the path left the river to pass around the back of some woods. About three quarters of a mile from New Bridge we reached the access track to Birkrigg Farm.

Here we decided on a detour from the main route to visit Cotter Force. The latter was reached by an easy 10 minute walk along the road and then down the wide track leading to the falls. While the end of the path has a decent enough view of the falls a careful clamber of rocks and tree routes brought me right alongside the lower section of the falls.

After a gloomy start to the day the sun began to break out at this point and for the rest of the walk we enjoyed far better weather than we were expecting. Retracing our steps to the track below Birkrigg Farm we then continued on our way to Mossdale Head. Along the way we passed some Belted Galloways, an impressive bull (safely on the other side of a gate) and some guinea fowl. I can't recall coming across these unusual birds before - they certainly made some strange noises!

Passing around the farm at Mossdale Head the Mossdale Viaduct suddenly came into view. Through one of the arches we spotted one of two waterfalls that can be found at Mossdale Head. Passing through a gate we walked underneath the viaduct to reach the waterfall. This was the first time I'd visited this particular spot and I was very impressed. It should be noted though that the two minute walk from the track to the waterfall is not a right of way. If there is anyone about at the farm it would probably be best to ask permission.

Returning to the path we viewed the lower fall from the safety of the official right of way. This soon left the track to head over Fall Rigg before dropping down to the road at Thwaite Bridge. Crossing over the bridge we then took a path slanting up through some woodland. This brought us to a steep pasture marked simply as 'Carr' on the map.

Climbing up the pasture to the top of a thin strip of woodland the going began to ease somewhat. A short way further on we reached the path descending from Cotter End to Cotter Riggs. Crossing over this path we took a thinner path to another wall. Crossing over this we were greeted with a fine view of the small valley of Cotterdale.

Dropping down to the road we crossed straight over to take a grassy path for a brief stretch alongside Cotter Beck. Just above where Cotter Beck is formed by the meeting of East Gill and West Gill we crossed the latter by a footbridge before following East Gill into the hamlet of Cotterdale itself.

Turning right we soon crossed over East Gill by a footbridge to take a path leading across a series of pastures. In the fourth of fifth pasture the right of way slants up on to Rash Brows. It is worth noting that the wider grassy path that continues below the brow is not a right of way.

The next section, from Rash Brows on to Kempera Folds, was superb. The path contouring above the valley provided excellent views of Cotterdale as well as over our earlier route up Mossdale. Eventually the path climbed gradually to meet the Pennine Way. Turning right on this a short way we then took another path on the right. Passing around the small grassy hill of Bearsett the path brought us to a road junction. Turning left it was then an easy walk back along the road into Appersett.

This was a hugely enjoyable walk, all the more so because it featured some paths that I'd not trodden before. The walk to Mossdale Head was nice, the waterfall at Mossdale Head superb. For me though it was the walk back from Cotterdale that made the biggest impression. All in all highly recommended.

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