Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Lindley Moor, Almscliff Crag & Stainburn Moor

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Route: Little Alms Cliff, Hunter's Stones, Lindley Moor, Norwood Edge Plantation, Prospecthouse Farm, Beckborrom Farm, Robins Hill, Braythorn, Stainburn, Banks Farm, Merrybank Lane, Almscliff Crag, Greenmires Lane, Staniston Hill, Highfield Farm, Lanshaw Farm, Stainburn Moor

Date: 21/02/2017
From: Stainburn Forest

Parking: Stainburn Forest
Start Point: Stainburn Forest
Region: Yorkshire

Route length: 10.7 miles (17.2 km)
Time taken : 03:56
Average speed: 2.7 mph
Ascent: 464m
Descent: 475m

Summits:
Lindley Moor (291m), Almscliff Crag (213m), Stainburn Moor (245m)

Other points of interest: Little Alms Cliff, Hunter's Stones, Almscliff Crag

With rain threatening to stop play, I set my sights a little closer to home for this walk, turning my attention to the northern side of Wharfedale which is a mere 10 miles from All the Gear HQ. Firstly, that means a lie in for me and, secondly, meant I could beat the rain that was forecast to arrive mid-afternoon.

I have wanted to visit Almscliff Crag for a while, ever since spying it from atop Otley Chevin. It's an attractive pile of rocks located just west of Harrogate. Creating a walk of substantial length that includes it was a minor challenge but, using one I found online, adapted it to take in the summits of Lindley Moor and Stainburn Moor, two modest hills in the vicinity.

Starting from a Forestry Commission car park at Stainburn Wood, the first task was to walk the short distance to Little Alms Cliff (also Almias Cliff), a small collection of rocks that bears some resemblance to the larger Almscliff Crag, located some 3 miles away. Views extend across Nidderdale towards Menwith Hill. It's pleasant enough but having just started walking and with a chilly wind blowing, I didn't hang around.
The view north across Nidderdale
Little Alms Cliff
The view from Little Alms Cliff towards Menwith Hill
Little Alms Cliff
Lindley Moor
The path along the ridge of Lindley Moor was very boggy and I eventually reached the summit after passing around Hunter's Stones, a collection of gritstone boulders. There's a trig pillar atop Lindley Moor, standing proudly atop an outcrop of its very own, one which presents a minor challenge to get on top of. The reward is a commanding view across lower Wharfedale.
Looking back to Little Alms Cliff
Stainburn Forest
Stainburn Forest
The path runs in a straight line across the top of the moor
The path at Hunter's Stones
Hunter's Stones
Lindley Moor's summit
Looking across Wharfedale
Leaving Lindley Moor, I followed a track out of the woods and onto an exceptionally muddy Right of Way that heads around Prospecthouse Farm to Norwood Lane. Heading east, further Rights of Way (not very well marked on the ground) head across open fields towards Beckbottom Farm. Instead of heading right to the farm, I turned south to reach Otley Road (B6161) where a short section on the road leads back to the relative sanctuary of the lanes at Robins Hill cottage.
The track leading our of the woods
Wharfedale
Prospecthouse Farm
Napes Hill
Lindley Moor
A distant Almscliff Crag
The lane at Robins Hill
A narrow lane (handily signed for motorists to avoid thanks to a satnav error) crosses West Beck where I encountered a various curious pheasant - curious enough not to run away at my initial presence and enough to start following me along the lane. I eventually gave it the slip ay Braythorn, a small hamlet hidden among tall hedgerows.
A handy warning for motorists
A short distance away is Stainburn, a hamlet of equally modest size, from which you can see Almscliff Crag, seemingly closer than ever yet still elusive. From Stainburn, you have the option to head directly to the crag along Low Lane or to extend it slightly (as I did) by following the bridleway to Bank Farm and approaching from Merrybank Lane to the south.
Heading for Braythorn
One of the locals
Braythorn
Otley Chevin on the horizon
The church at Stainburn
A
Almscliff Crag
East Beck
Banks Farm
Almscliff Crag is a large millstone outcrop, formed due to the softer shale and mudstone eroding at a faster rate than the hard wearing millstone. It's an understandably popular area for climbers - it was even mentioned in an early book about the Peak District since it shares many similarities to its illustrious cousin. Interestingly, the crag is on privately owned land and is not designated as open access.
Wharfedale Viaduct
Almscliff Crag
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Almscliff Crag
Almscliff Crag
Almscliff Crag
Almscliff Crag
Almscliff Crag
Almscliff Crag
Almscliff Crag


Almscliff Crag
Almscliff Crag
From Almscliff Crag, more lanes lead to a long bridleway that runs in a straight line up to Highfield Farm and a large gas terminal. It's marked on the map as a 'Gas Offlake Station' - I can only assume this is a rarely spelling mistake?
Almscliff Crag
Staniston Hill
Looking back towards Almscliff Crag
The gas terminal at Highfield Farm
The bridleway continues past the station, crossing Otley Road once again to the access road to Lanshaw Farm. After passing the farm, a gate is reached on the edge of the Stainburn plantation with another trig pillar marking the high point of the moor.
Entering Stainburn Wood

The top of Stainburn Moor
The return to the car park is along a wide, tree-lined avenue through the woods, boggy at times but providing welcome shelter from the rain, which had arrived right on cue. It comes as a surprise to learn that the woods of Stainburn are home to one of UK's most technically challenging mountain bike trails - the Warren Boulder Trail. The wide avenue emerges back at the car park where I started from earlier in the day.
Stainburn Wood
Stainburn Wood
Stainburn Wood
While enjoyable, I doubt I will repeat this walk. The individual features are interesting but separated by fairly uninteresting farmland. A selection of shorter walks might ultimately be more rewarding. That said, it's amazing that this countryside is just a short drive from All the Gear HQ and richly deserves further investigation.