THE reservoirs of the Upper Nidderdale lie in a vast area of remote but beautiful countryside. However, from Middlesmoor the tracks and paths are good and the 12 miles pass quickly giving plenty of time for a full winter day’s walk.

There is parking in the village of Middlesmoor at the road end. From here head north west along a good track, used by farmers and workers on the reservoirs. The track climbs steadily to Rain Stang (the trig point at nearly 1,500ft is just off path to the right) before the views open up impressively to the north and back down the valley near How Stean Gorge to the left. From the high point the track carries on for a few hundred metres before dropping steeply towards the first of the two man-made bodies of water in the Upper Nidd. Scar House Reservoir was completed in 1936 and provides water for Bradford, plenty of it as the dam wall itself is nearly 200ft high.

The reservoirs have excellent fishing, with brown trout the most common catch and for the walker it is also a fine location for bird watching. On arrival at the reservoir head west (left) alongside the waters till arriving at the second reservoir Angram. Go no further west. Ahead is bleak country, peat hagged moorland. I once visited, never again. Cross the dam of Angram Reservoir and head north east (right) along a path soon turning in to a good track to the north of Scar House Reservoir. On reaching the track let your imagination take over at what has become known as the “Lost Village of Lodge”. Remains exist of a village that almost certainly dated back to the Middle Ages. During the summer of 2016 archaeologists discovered remains that confirmed its ancient beginnings. In the 19th century Lodge was a busy community, situated well on a well-travelled pack horse route, with many nearby farms and a bustling community, even before the arrival of the reservoir builders. Now most, but not all, is buried under the reservoirs. Remains (including a narrow gauge railway) of the reservoir works are more visible. A truly fascinating history.

From the lost village follow the excellent track east to the end of Scar House Reservoir and then take the footpath which climbs for a 100m ignoring the main track dropping to the dam. The path (part of the Nidderdale Way) heads over the wonderfully name Woo Gill. It is near here that three tinker’s bodies were once discovered, headless, in a place known as Dead Man’s Hill. Turn left and climb to the high path on the rim of the dale. I do prefer this high route purely for the views both behind you to the west and ahead to the south but there are alternatives lower in the valley itself.

The path meets a shooters track and carries on its southerly course, sticking close to the rim of the Nidd valley.

After a further mile the track arrives at the spectacularly situated Shooters Lodge, from here take the bridleway steeply downhill, in to the valley at Thorpe Farm. Cross the River Nidd at the farm and walk for a quarter a mile alongside the river before taking the footpath to your right, this sting in the tail climbs nearly 200 feet back in to the village of Middlesmoor.

Fact box:

Distance: Roughly 12 miles

Height to climb: 450m (1,480 feet)

Start: SE 092743. There is a small car park at the top end of Middlesmoor.

Difficulty: A long day but on good tracks and paths throughout. A couple of steep, short climbs.

Refreshments: The Crown at Middlesmoor is an excellent, traditional Dales pub, great for walkers.

Be prepared: The route description and sketch map only provide a guide to the walk. You must take out and be able to read a map (O/S Explorer 298) and in cloudy/misty conditions a compass (essential on this walk). You must also wear the correct clothing and footwear for the outdoors. Whilst every effort is made to provide accurate information, walkers head out at their own risk. Please observe the Countryside Code and park sensibly.

Jonathan Smith runs Where2walk, a walking company based in the Yorkshire Dales:

• He has published 3 books on walks in the Dales; ‘The Yorkshire 3 Peaks’, ‘The Dales 30’ mountains and the New ‘Walks without Stiles’ book.

• All are available direct from the Where2walk website.

• Book a Navigation Training day in Long Preston, near Settle (Beginners or ‘Compass & Contours’) Dates and further information are available on the website. also features 100’s of walks across Yorkshire and beyond, from easy strolls to harder climbs.