Sunday, 6 January 2019

Rocking Moor & Thruscross Reservoir

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Route: Thruscross Reservoir, Six Dales Trail, Redshaw Hall, Burnt House, Spittle Ings House, Rocking Moor, Rocking Hall, Pan Head, Lowcock Stoop, Foulgate Bank

Date: 06/01/2019
From: Thruscross Reservoir

Parking: Thruscross Reservoir
Start Point: Thruscross Reservoir
Region: Nidderdale AONB

Route length: 7.9 miles (12.7km)
Time taken: 03:40
Average speed: 2.5 mph
Ascent: 346m
Descent: 344m

Summits: None

Other points of interest: Rocking Hall

There are large swaths of North Yorkshire moorland that aren't included in either the Yorkshire Moors or the Yorkshire Dales National Parks. Much of this can be found in the Nidderdale AONB, just east of the Dales park boundary. The weird sculptured stones at Brimham Rocks are arguably the highlight of these parts though our attention was drawn to some of the quiet moorland west of Harrogate.

A string of moors actually straddles the Dales / AONB boundary. These include Stean Moor, Blubberhouses Moor and Pock Stones Moor. You can find the elusive hill of Meugher in these parts. Our plan was to visit Rocking Moor and its lonely shooting lodge.

We parked at Thruscross Reservoir close to its impressive concrete dam. Built in 1966, Thruscross is the topmost and newest reservoir of the Washburn Valley. Often referred to as ‘West End’ after the village it flooded. However, West End was largely derelict anyway as a result of the decline in the flax industry.
Thruscross Reservoir
Firstly, we followed the Six Dales Trail as it heads south, away from the reservoir dam. The trail is a long distance route connected Otley to Middleham and passes all but one of the reservoirs in the Washburn Valley though we would be following it for only a short distance. At an old signpost, we climbed steeply out of the valley to a road, crossing it before continuing on.
The Six Dales Trail
Thruscross Reservoir's concrete dam
The dam once again
The Six Dales Trail
A path leads past Redshaw Hall, a C17 listed farm. We were delighted to see a Peregrine Falcon sat on a fence post. It waited long enough for me to get a couple of photos before swooping off. After negotiating the paths across Burnt Hill, we passed Spittle Ings House, ultimately joining a wide track which stretches out onto the moor.
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Peregrine Falcon
Peregrine Falcon
Looking across to Kexgill Moor
The distant domes of Menwith Hill
Rocking Moor
The track climbs gradually over a couple of miles, rising into the mists atop the moor. At the highest point is Rocking Hall, looming out of the mist on this occasion.
Green Sike on Rocking Moor
One of the many grouse on Rocking Moor
Rocking Moor
Rocking Moor
Rocking Hall emerges from the mist
Rocking Hall is an early example of a shooting house, built in 1758 for the Bolton Abbey Estate. It is a substantial stone-built structure and features separate rooms for the shooters and beaters.
Rocking Hall
It takes its name from a large ‘rocking stone’ nearby. It lies next to an earlier 17th-century farmhouse. It is still in use (though accessible to the public thanks to the open alcoves either side of the main door) and has been visited by many distinguished guests, including King George V in 1911 and ourselves in 2019.
The rocking stone
A close up of the rocking stone
An unusual figure above the Rocking Hall doorway
Rocking Hall
From the shooting house, we headed north back out onto open moor. A narrow path winds through the heather following a line of grouse butts set out around Rocking Hall. The path passes along the top of Bank Edge, descending Foulgate Bank to meet a bridleway. The bridleway crosses the moor to meet the road at Red Gate.
Sara heads out onto the moor
Rocking Hall grouse butt
The Great Stray
Rocking Hall disappears into the mist
Looking to Pockstones Moor
Bridleway at Fox Holes
Boundary stones at Red Gate
Whit Moor Road
We followed the road downhill to a bridge crossing Capelshaw Beck, a small stream which flows into Thruscross Reservoir. It is possible to follow the reservoir shore from here though it's not clear from the map. On the shoreline are the remains of the flax mill at West End, the flooded village I mentioned previously. In particularly dry weather the foundations of some of the cottages appear. It's rumoured that the old river bridge is hidden in the depths too.
Interesting light over Rocking Moor
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The path to Thruscross Reservoir
West End flax mill
West End flax mill
The flax mill prior to the construction of the reservoir
After the remains of the mill, the path follows the shore of the reservoir for a couple of miles, taking us back to the dam and the car park where we started. I find it interesting that this area of moorland is not part of the Yorkshire Dales (for whatever reason). However, with shifting boundaries, I'm sure it's only a matter of time.

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