A super walk visiting Troller's Gill, one of the country's finest limestone gorges, before following good paths and tracks to Grimwith Reservoir the largest reservoir in the Yorkshire Dales National Park.
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The country seemed to be in the middle of a mini heatwave and the idea of a long drive and a climb up a high fell just didn’t appeal to me. Therefore I decided to do a more local walk – indeed it is easy to forget sometimes that it only takes me 25 minutes to drive to the start of this walk.
I started at the large layby heading westbound on the Greenhow to Grassington road as it dips down a hill below Stump Cross Caverns. Walking down the road I took a gate on my left to gain a track called Black Hill Road. Ignoring all branching options this was to be my route for the next 1.3 miles. Initially the track followed a dry stream before climbing gradually to reach a broad crest where Simon’s Seat suddenly came into view.
"A cave in the gill is the legendary lair of the barguest, a monstrous hound. I had a quick look inside but didn’t linger long in case I was being watched!"
The trackside verges were alive to the sounds of grasshoppers, and I spent some time trying to get a photo of one of them. I didn’t have much luck. I did better with some of the butterflies further down the track including ringlets and tortoiseshells. Eventually the track reached a junction with another one. Turning right I began a pleasant descent of Skyreholme Bank. Initially just a normal stony track by the time I reached High Skyreholme it had turned into a metalled public road.
I carried on down the hill all the while enjoying the views ahead of Wharfedale with Simon’s Seat looking more and more imposing across to my left. After crossing a bridge the road came to a junction. Here I took the turn to the right for Parcevall Hall Gardens (a place I still haven’t visited). Just before the bridge over the beck and the hall I turned left to follow Skyreholme Beck upstream. Passing the barn at Gills Lathe the path briefly passed through a small wood before emerging to a wonderful view of Middle Hill, Old Man’s Scar and Nab Scar.
The signposted public footpath heads up a dry valley to the west of Middle Hill but I kept to the path heading for the entrance to Troller’s Gill. There was an abundance of wildflowers. Particularly impressive on the slopes of Middle Hill was the display of lady’s bedstraw and harebell. Closer to the entrance of the gill itself were patches of wild thyme and hawkbit.
By now it was 10.30am and the temperature had really begun to rise. The shade provided by the spectacular steep sided limestone gorge of Troller’s Gill at least provided some respite. There have been times where the way through the gill has not been possible following rain but on this occasion it was almost entirely dry. It really is one of the most atmospheric places in the Dales. A cave in the gill is the legendary lair of the barguest, a monstrous hound. I had a quick look inside but didn’t linger long in case I was being watched! The story of the barguest is recounted in the early 19th century ‘Legend of Troller’s Gill’ which is probably based on an oral tradition. The legend can be found in full on the Caught by the River website.
After passing the cave the sides of the gill changed from limestone walls to grass and all too soon I reached the footbridge over the stream. Crossing this I climbed steeply up to the left to gain the public footpath. This I followed to emerge on to New Road. Turning left to reach a corner of the road I then took a track to the right. This stayed close to a wall with Fancarl Crag ahead of me to my right. The track led me back to the B6265. Crossing straight over I continued on a fabulous track with increasingly good views of Grimwith Reservoir ahead of me.
Gradually the track descended to reach the car park at Grimwith Reservoir. Passing through the car park to the far side I located the track above the sailing club car park. On reaching more open ground I took the path slanting down towards the reservoir. There were plenty of boats out on the waters of the reservoir. As the path flattened out it gained a colourful border of yellow flowers which a friend has identified as lady’s mantle. It really was quite a fantastic display.
The path brought me out on to the main track which does a circuit of the reservoir. Turning left I passed the superb thatched Grimwith High Lathe. Not long afterwards I took a stile up to the right to begin the final stage of the walk back to the car. By this time I was really beginning to struggle with the heat and not long after passing the barn at High Shaws Lathe I had to stop for a rest. Climbing gradually I finally reached Nursery Knot. In normal conditions I would have almost certainly made the detour to the top but on this occasion my energy levels were so low I stayed on the path as it finally dropped down to the road. A minute’s walk to the right brought me back to the car.
This is a fantastic walk and though I’ve visited Troller’s Gill and Grimwith Resevoir together and separately on a number of walks I still find things that surprise and delight. In this case it was the display of lady’s bedstraw on Middle Hill and lady’s mantle at Grimwith Reservoir. On this occasion however the heat made it a very tough walk and although I’d taken two bottles of water with me I’d finished both before getting back to the car. Fortunately the café at Stump Cross Caverns was open and so I treated myself to a huge ice cream which helped cool me down considerably!