Winter Walking in Nidderdale – with Added Mud

Mud. I can’t be doing with it. Viscous, squelchy, squishy, sticky, over-the-top-of-your-boots kind of mud. We’ve had ground slick with treacly mud here for weeks and weeks. But then there’s also Cabin Fever, and the need to plan a walk for our walking group in a fortnight’s time, when spring might have sprung. Walking won out over yet another day indoors.

Just outside Lofthouse, our walk begins.

My friend Chris and I set forth for the Yorkshire Dales, parked up in Lofthouse, and set off. Really, it could have been worse. It was a full twenty minutes before we came upon our first serious mudbath: prior to that we’d only had water-on-the-path to deal with.

Chris paddles across the path previously trodden only by sheep.

But climbing now, we saw what the fields were like: yes, those are fields you’re looking at. Gouthwaite Reservoir’s not here: it’s over there in the distance.

The path between Lofthouse and Ramsgill, with flooded fields down below and Gouthwaite Reservoir in the distance.

We had our rewards though. The views: the remnants of a snowscape: sheep – and oh look! Our very first lambs of the season – a little huddle of black ones, and just one snowy specimen with its mum.

This sheep inspected us as we sat on a log for a snack.

Swaledale sheep make the logo of the Yorkshire Dales National Park.

And then, a pleasant surprise. The café at How Stean Gorge was open – on a weekday in February! Coffee and home-made cake while enjoying the view of the stream jostling and hurrying through its narrow ravine. I forgot to take a photo for Jo, but the website shows the Yorkshire Slice Chris and I shared.

How Stean Gorge seen from the café .
The view of Nidderdale and Gouthwaite Reservoir from Middlesmoor.

We were on the home straights now. All we had to do was struggle up a steepish hill to the now barely-populated village of Middlesmoor. Just outside its church, on the path that plunges down to our starting point are thoughtfully-provided seats. This is one of the best views in England, and despite the wind, we wanted to appreciate it.

And then, half way down the hill- a traffic jam. This herd of cattle blocked our path. The farmer asked us if we’d mind waiting five minutes. He turned out to have a countryman’s clock, but no matter: we weren’t going to argue with all those cows.

Cows make themselves at home.

Finally, the cows moved on, and so did we. We got back to the car just as the rain, and then the sleet, started once more.

It was good to be out walking again.

An entry for Jo’s Monday Walk.

Author: margaret21

I'm retired and living in North Yorkshire, where I walk as often as I can, write, volunteer, and travel as often as I can.

51 thoughts on “Winter Walking in Nidderdale – with Added Mud”

  1. Thank you for letting me out w/o so much as dirtying my shoes… England has so many beautiful places. And well done for overcoming the inner “schweinehund” (procrastination, laziness).

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  2. It really is a case of “Mud, Mud, Glorious Mud” (to quote Flanders and Swann) 🙂 Even though we have had way less of the wet stuff than you, we also have tracks virtually impassable with mud, and water has transformed the fields into mini lakes…the birds seem to be the only ones who are enjoyong the temporary wetlands! Fabulous views and amazing you managed to get around without a soaking.

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  3. Sleeting it down here again at the moment. One minute I am bathed in sunshine, the next… not enticing me out for a walk I’m afraid. We have a lot of mud around here and our lane is now practically a stream, all the edge of the lanes have crumbled away too making them even narrower than normal.

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      1. The whole of the UK seems to have been the same this winter. I used to think it was just the south west and Wales that suffered from prolonged wetness.

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  4. Gorgeous photos Margaret, transposed myself to Nidderdale. Have you thought of a sideline business in mud facial masks?

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  5. Lovely to see some winter blue skies, and some hearty looking livestock despite the mud. I was never that bothered about mud until I moved to Devon, and oh my goodness, rich red claggy mud not only stuck to everything, but stained all it came into contact with too.

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  6. Our back garden is 1/3 under water and the canal path is very squelchy; any walk into town via both requires wellies. I try to get out every day even for a brief walk round the streets, though, and at points our weekends was as bright and blue as yours looks to have been.

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    1. Exactly. It’s that ‘at points’ isn’t it? We regularly have the whole spectrum of weather every two hours or so at the moment. Currently? Bright blue – hooray!


  7. Sometimes no matter the weather you just HAVE to get out of the house. Luckily you live in a very beautiful part of the world and found some wonders along your stroll. Loved the little sheep and the beautiful vista. Good for you!

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    1. It was definitely worth braving a little mud. Apart from anything else, our legs had nearly forgotten how to walk seven miles at once. And it was a lovely varied walk.


  8. The views of and from Middlesmoor are glorious. Mud has been said to be glorious too, but if your blood is anything like mine, it’s cool enough at the moment when venturing outside.

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    1. It certainly is. Got to get a bit of a stride on. I guess you know Middlesmoor and area? This walk is one of my favourite go-to walks: its so varied and pretty.

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      1. I’ve been to Kettlewell and might have driven over that way, but we were lost. It was beautiful, but high and lonely so I could hardly believe we were on a ‘real’ road. We may have been a bit further north.

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      2. It’ so easy to lose your bearings up that way. We once did that with French visitors in tow. If there are no time pressures I quite enjoy the feeling of being in the back end of absolutely nowhere!

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  9. I really enjoyed following this walk – those views and the sheep are great. Indeed the mud looks challenging and the icy wind would be a deterrent for me, but the views, sunshine and a break from indoors would be very enticing. I particularly like the first photo with that funnel-shaped cloud. Wishing you more blue skies and less mud!


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