Winterburn Reservoir

Winterburn Reservoir

Walk Summary

A pleasant and easy walk from Hetton to Winterburn Reservoir with an extended return via the so-called Giants’ Graves above Friars Head.

Distance: 7.5 miles
Total ascent: 800ft
Walk Rating: ***
Parking: Roadside parking in Hetton
Route: Download Route [GPX]

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Walk Report

Having only managed two walks in December I was more than ready to get out for a walk as early as possible in 2016. With yet more rain forecast for the weekend, New Year’s Day itself looked the best option for some dry weather. After the usual deliberation on where to go I plumped for this walk from Hetton to Winterburn Reservoir covering an area of the Yorkshire Dales that I’d not previously visited.

“Although it was a couple of days since the last rainfall the accumulation of rain over the previous few weeks was apparent with part of the road still flooded by water bubbling out of a drain.”

Parking on the roadside opposite the Angel Inn I left Hetton by the broad track called Moor Lane. This climbed very gradually to eventually reach the modest high point of the walk at just 250m in altitude. At a major junction of paths and bridleways I took the option descending to Hetton Common Beck at the northern end of Winterburn Reservoir. This was probably the finest section of the walk with good views of the reservoir backed by a distant Pendle Hill.

At the beck I crossed over a bridge to join a thin path leading south along the western edge of the reservoir. While a bit muddy and slippery in places the path provided good views over one of the lesser known sheets of water in the Yorkshire Dales. Eventually the path was deflected away from the side of the reservoir by a steep gill.

Having joined the access track to the farm at Way Gill I followed this south, passing the dam and the reservoir keeper’s house, to drop down to Winterburn Beck. Continuing on, the track provided a nice easy walk into the tiny village of Winterburn.

Rather than taking the direct route back to Hetton via Hills Lane I continued south passing Winterburn Bridge and along Winterburn Lane. Although it was a couple of days since the last rainfall the accumulation of rain over the previous few weeks was apparent with part of the road still flooded by water bubbling out of a drain.

Upon reaching Friars Head, a superb late 16th century manor house, I left the road by taking the bridleway leading over Scarnber Hill. Here I made a short diversion from the path to view the feature marked on the map as the ‘Giants’ Graves’. About 10 metres in length and a couple of metres across these mounds are actually examples of pillow mounds, artificial mounds that were created in the 12th century as purpose built breeding places for the recently introduced rabbit.

Returning to the bridleway I continued on across some grassy pastures with interesting views towards Cracoe Fell and Flasby Fell with Crookrise Crag slotting in between the two. Eventually I came to Hills Lane for a simple mile or so walk back in to Hetton on the road (care does need to be taken as while this is a quiet back road it is also not particularly wide in places).

This was a nice and easy leg stretcher with some interesting features that was mainly on good tracks and roads. The dull grey skies were not particularly conducive to photography so I enjoyed experimenting with different settings on my camera including the black and white and dramatic tone settings. All in all it was probably just about the right type of walk for the conditions.

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