Christmas may be over but winter has a long way to go yet, which means there’s ample opportunity to get out and discovered some of the breathtaking beauty we have right on our doorsteps.
NEWMILLER DAM, WAKEFIELD
Newmillerdam Country Park & Boathouse near Wakefield, covers 237 acres of woodland and water by the picturesque village of Newmillerdam.
The Park was once part of an area known by the Norse name of Thurstonhaugh. The name changed when it was part of the medieval ‘Chevet’ estate after a new corn mill was built in the village in 1285 and the area became known as New Myllne on Dam.
You will find pine and larch trees here - they were planted to be used as pit props. Lots of ducks and swans and plenty of paths to discover.
HARDCASTLE CRAGS, NEAR HEBDEN BRIDGE
Probably the best circular walk in Calderdale, this route visits two of the area’s distinctive wooded valleys, often referred to as cloughs.
The first of them, Crimsworth Dean, is seen on the outward leg and the higher the gentle single-track road climbs the prettier the view becomes. The second is the long valley through which flows Hebden Water and is the site of the famous Hardcastle Crags beauty spot owned by the National Trust. The crags themselves are mostly hidden among trees and visitors come for the lovely woodland paths.
RYBURN VALLEY, SOUTH PENNINES
There are a number of walking routes to be discovered around Ripponden and through the Ryburn Valley.
There are two reservoirs in the upper Ryburn Valley - one is near Ripponden, a concrete dam nestled by woodland. The other is higher up and more exposed. Both offer stunning views and the chance to spot wildlife.
A good place to start out from is the Baitings Reservoir car park, the nearest town being Sowerby Bridge but the village of Rishworth is also within walking distance.
CHELLOW DEAN, BRADFORD
A long narrow strip of woodland clings to the fringes of two reservoirs, with a series of made paths offering a variety of walks, although the going can get touch in places.
There is plenty of opportunity to spot wildfowl and the woods are full of songbirds. It’s a popular haunt for dog walkers and in general is a pleasant place to visit.
There is a car park off Haworth Road. Allerton is nearby and Shipley, the next nearest large town, is just a short drive away.
SKIPTON CASTLE WOODS, NORTH YORKSHIRE
Also known as Springs Wood, it has been an important part of the town for centuries, providing fuel and building timber, while the series of dams and canalised streams powered corn and saw mills. The woods are managed by the Woodland Trust and consist mainly of ash trees. One of the walks crosses the shoulder of Park Hill, from which Civil War Roundheads laid siege to the castle, which dates from 1090. They were unsuccessful and the castle was the last place in England to surrender. There are great spotted woodpeckers in the woods, kingfishers and herons on the dams.
CRIGGLESTONE TIP, WAKEFIELD
This is a former spoil heap from Crigglestone Colliery, now closed, which has been fully restored.
The wood is now well established, attracting lots of wildlife, including birds and butterflies in the summer. There’s also a stream. It’s a small area but ideal for a short walk.
The colliery suffered a disaster on July 29, 1941, after an explosion killed 21 men. It’s a stone’s throw from Newmiller Dam and the Calder and Hebble Navigation is also nearby, with the town of Horbury just to the north.