Blubberhouses (some locals pronounce it “Blubber-us”) is a village of scattered houses and farms on both sides of the busy A59 Harrogate-Skipton road.
Here, Yorkshire Water provides a car park for walkers and mountainbikers to use as a starting point for exploring the Washburn Valley, where a chain of four reservoirs provides Leeds with much of its water. This walk follows paths through fields and woods to the small village of Timble, and finishes with a lovely return stretch along the northern shore of Fewston Reservoir. Typical bird life seen en route includes greylag and Canada geese, cormorants and great crested grebes. Red kites and common buzzards are present over farmland.
1. At the eastern end of the car park take a signposted footpath on the right. Follow it uphill to another stile. On the other side angle left over a small field, then swing right in the next to walk with a wall on your right across fields. When the wall ends continue ahead to Beecroft Moor Plantation and keep on this straight course to arrive at the far right-hand corner.
2. Cross a minor road with care, and use a stile to the left of the Ridge Top Farm access road. Bear left over the field to a wall pass on the right side of a metal gate and follow the wall uphill. To enter Timble aim to the left of a modern building, and step out onto the main street.
3. Walk ahead to pass an information board and go left to follow a back lane. Just past High Field Farm fork left to follow a lovely walled green lane. At the end go over a stile following a section of the Dales Way link footpath over fields in a straight line. Cross a stile and approach the entrance to Swinsty Moor Plantation.
4. Cross one stile then turn left in front of a gate to follow a sometimes boggy path which runs between a field and the wood. Pass through a handgate into the wood. Ignore a path going left and continue ahead through the trees. When cars appear look for an access path on the right to walk through the car park.
5. On the public road turn right to walk downhill and cross the embankment. When it bends right take some steps on the left and follow the path left to reach the north shore of Fewston Reservoir. (Note that Washburn Heritage Centre for refreshments is further along the road). This waterside path is followed until it reaches the busy A59. Go left on the good pavement, then left again down steps to return to the car park.
Difficulty rating: 2 stars.
Distance: 5 1/2 miles
Time: 3 hours.
Map: OS Explorer sheet 297 (1:25000) Lower Wharfedale & Upper Washburn Valley.
Parking: Fewston Car Park, Blubberhouses, just east of the Blubberhouses-Otley junction on A59 Harrogate-Skipton road. Grid ref SE170552.
Public transport: Blubberhouses is on the X59 Harrogate-Skipton route. For times see www.wymetro.com or call 0113 245 7676.
Toilets: Swinsty Moor car park (on route).
Refreshments: Timble village; Washburn Heritage Centre (off route) weekends & bank hols.