Here’s a nice little jaunt through Nidderdale from that perennial favourite, Pateley Bridge.
It’s an interesting mix of little-known paths, quiet corners and traffic-free country byways and there should be time left at the finish to enjoy a browse round Pateley’s bustling High Street with its coffee shops and galleries.
The small market town began life as nothing more than a paved ford across the River Nidd in the days of the Roman occupation of these shores. The important early settlements in the upper dale were Dacre, Bewerley and Heathfield, all mentioned in the Domesday Book survey of 1086. Bewerley became the most significant location after it was gifted to Fountains Abbey which then built a major grange there to manage its extensive Nidderdale estates.
Pateley first appears in documents of the 12th century as Patleia, the path through the glade or clearing. The bridge which gave the community its full name wasn’t recorded until 1320. The first bridge was made of wood; a stone bridge didn’t appear until after the Reformation. The present structure dates from the 18th century.
Lead mining, quarrying and agriculture have played prosperous roles in Pateley’s history. Lead mining around Greenhow Hill was started by the Brigantes, taken over by the conquering Romans – who put the native Celts to work in their own mines – and was later developed into a money-spinning industry by the monks of Fountains Abbey and their successors, the Yorkes, who became the major landowners in the upper dale for nearly 400 years from 1547.
As lead mining waned in the late 19th century, stone quarrying filled the gap. A huge operation at Ashgate Quarry on the hillside to the north-east of the village produced massive gritstone slabs which were despatched all round the country to make railway platforms, dock quays and steps for public buildings.
PARKING: On entering Pateley Bridge along the B6165 from the direction of Summerbridge, drive to the bottom of High Street and either turn left into the pay-and-display car parks in Nidd Walk or turn right into King Street to find roadside parking.
PATELEY BRIDGE AND BLAZEFIELD
5 miles: Allow 3 – 3 ½ hours. Map: O/S Explorer 298 Nidderdale
The walk is described from the bottom of Pateley’s High Street. Walk up High Street to where it turns right (Ripon Road) and, here, go straight ahead up Old Church Lane (Hamilton Terrace) to arrive at an area of grass on your right and streets called The Drive and High Crest – STOP!
Almost opposite The Drive, at Springfield Bungalow, look to your left to spot a yellow arrow and a narrow path between two properties and just left of tall wooden double gates. Take this path to emerge in a street , turn right for 40 yards and then turn left.
At end of this cul-de-sac, turn right up a section of old tarred road (to right of No. 21) to a field gate with hidden stile to its right. Now go half left (as arrow), round the end of wooden fence, to gain a wall to the right of a gate and turn right along wall up the field, over a stile (or use gate).
When wall on your left finishes, keep on along a broken wall past two prominent trees. Just past the second tree, go half right through a gateway and follow the obvious grass rake up the field (by broken wall) to a gate.
Enter vehicle track and turn right, past a house, and follow this access track to its end to emerge in a road. Turn left up the hill and then turn first right along road (sign: Pateley Bridge via Blazefield).
Follow this traffic-free road for a short half mile, past the entrance to Blazefield caravan park. About 50 yards beyond caravan park entrance, at a fingerpost, turn right through a gate and go down to the next gate (caravan to your right) and pass through (gate difficult to open; you may have to climb it).
1: Follow wall on your left down towards Tiplady Farm. After about 50 yards, spot a footpath sign on a gate to your right (50 yards above a red phone box). Note: this is a diversion from the public right of way, but one presumably preferred by the property owner.
Go through the gate into a gravel path and turn left, past cabins, down to a pond and gate. Go through and turn left into Tiplady Farm and then bear right through property along cobble vehicle tracks to spot a gate ahead (ornamental lamp-posts to left and right).
Follow access drive, past a nameplate for Bottom Road, to its end to emerge in B6265 Ripon-Pateley Bridge road at Blazefield. Cross the road half right to a Nidderdale Way fingerpost and then turn sharp left, past the front of cottages, and follow this access track to its end to a minor road at a picnic bench.
Turn right down road with radio mast atop Guise Cliff on skyline. Follow road down to the B6165 Pateley Bridge-Ripley road and take the road opposite into the centre of Glasshouses.
Glasshouses was first mentioned in records 1387. The village is believed to take its name from a medieval glass-making industry. Little is known about this long-lost activity, but tradition says the glass went to Fountains Abbey which is known to have had a glass-production site in this area.
In the 19th century, Glasshouses became an important flax-producing centre. The flax mill was built in 1812 by a famous local family, the Metcalfes, and the industry flourished, employing some 250 people. In 1899, the mill was converted to hemp spinning and rope making and this continued until 1972. The old mill complex is now being turned into homes.
Walk down the hill to end of village, cross the road bridge over the Nidd and immediately turn left up a tarred lane at a blue sign reading: Public footpath Heyshaw via Guisecliffe.
After 50 yards, turn first right along vehicle track past cottages. Follow the track up to Hollin House Farm, go past its right side and then – stay alert! – go past a row of cottages on your right to the last cottage (Curlew Cottage) and turn RIGHT to pass through a gateway to right of a dark-green corrugated barn.
2: Go slightly left on a beaten-down track through the tall bracken and then continue through the wood, passing occasional yellow tape. On arriving at a twin-stemmed tree with yellow tape on each stem, go past it for 10 paces and then bear right to an obvious section of grassy path.
This short section of grass path leads into a broad track through a tunnel of trees. Now stay alert! Follow track for a couple of hundred yards until an obvious opening appears on your left leading through trees into a field. Exit wood at this point into field and turn right and follow the decent path as it veers leftwards away from wood. The path then bears right, soon passing a piece of old farm machinery to gain a gate.
Go through to enter vehicle track and immediately turn right through a metal walkers’ gate (yellow tape) and go forward to gain left end of a wall (gate lying against it). Ignore metal gate on your immediate right - instead, go straight ahead down left side of hedge (past a temporary gate lying against fence) towards the valley.
When hedge finishes, go straight down field to a gate and two old tractors. Now bear right down vehicle tracks, passing to left of Baylis Gap Farm, and then bear left along vehicle track (do not take right fork into farm).
Go through gate at a barn and onward by hedge, past a stone house, to gain a metal gate ahead just past a water trough (on your right). Continue by wire fence on your left with Bewerley Hall Farm to your right. Go through a bridle gate and onward along left edge of field, through next gate, and on by wooden fence to emerge in Glasshouses-Bewerley road. Turn left.
At T-junction, turn right into Bewerley and walk the entire length of the village, taking time out to visit the 15th-century Bewerley Grange Chapel on your right.
The chapel served the extensive granges – monastic farms - which Fountains Abbey established in Nidderdale in the 12th century after receiving the Bewerley estate from Roger de Mowbray, Lord of the Honour of Kirkby Malzeard, a generous benefactor of both Fountains and Byland Abbeys. The chapel was built by the second-to-last abbot of Fountains, Marmaduke Huby, who died in 1526. It succeeded a previous chapel on the site.
On leaving Bewerley, continue along pavement to gain the B6265 on edge of Pateley. Turn right into the town centre, cross the bridge over the Nidd and regain yo