Getting there:
From East Lancashire follow the A59 out of Skipton and turn left to Grassington. From there turn right and follow the B6265 to Pateley Bridge. Turn left and follow the minor road to the Gouthwaite car park on the left.  An honesty box is provided for those who wish to pay.
Map: OS Explorer 298 Grid Reference: 126 699
Length of Walk: 6 miles

AT last! Early June resulted in a reliable spell of warm weather and so I was able to enjoy a reservoir stroll which I had been planning for weeks.

At one time the River Nidd must have meandered between Ramsgill and Wath but the valley has now been flooded by the two mile length of Gouthwaite Reservoir, completed in 1961.

It is the last of the trio of Bradford’s reservoirs but is only used as compensation for the two further upstream if they are affected by drought.

My Walk: From the car park cross the road. Yorkshire Water have provided a splendid observation point which is a favourite haunt of bird watchers in pursuit of rarities which are a real feature here. On the day of my visit an osprey had been spotted and flying across were greylag and Canada Geese.

Follow the road and reservoir shore to reach the end of Gouthwaite.

A track leads off to the right between Ramsgill and Gouthwaite. Ramsgill has a fascinating history and is a splendidly cosy hamlet once dominated by the Yorke Arms, a former shooting lodge.

Nearby is a cottage which was once a school and was in operation in 1833 and had 25 fee paying pupils, but it also offered seven free places for students.

Although the church only dates from 1842 there was a much earlier religious connection. There is a gable end of a chapel built by the monks of Byland Abbey who had a Grange (or farm) in the area.

The reservoir circuit sweeps right, passing Bouthwaite.

Covill Grange Farm indicates yet another monastic connection. It is easy to understand just how this area must have been affected when the reservoir was built.

Next along the obvious track comes High Holme Farm where cattle would once have wandered down to the water to drink.

The track heads towards Wath but time should be taken to explore what is left of a once important railway line.

Why should the Nidd Valley Railway have been built along 13 miles of one of the wildest areas in Britain? The answer is water. As Bradford expanded rapidly in the 19th century its people and industry became ever more thirsty.

The railway was the only way to bring in men and raw materials to two reservoirs of Angram and Scarhouse.

The line closed in 1964. and some of the buildings have since been converted into private houses.

Gouthwaite reservoir ends at the village of Wath and here is a packhorse bridge which once crossed the river Nidd. The route now swings right and with the reservoir on the right.

After passing Stipe Head Farm on the left look left to see an extensive car park for a hostelry. Beyond this is a residential complex with a difference.

For it houses a huge 34 foot waterwheel on the site of the former Foster Beck Flax Mill, which was built about 1800 and which continued to operate until 1967.

The wheel is one of the finest of its type to be seen in Britain.

Continue along the “reservoir road” with wonderful views away to the right and return to the starting point.

Other places to visit Pateley Bridge is a delightful little town and should not be missed.

Neither should How Stean Gorge which is reached and signed further up the valley. There is a splendid little cave and on payment of fee you are given a hard hat and a torch to explore the well laid out system of caves cut into the limestone.