This is a splendid walk in spring and summer, especially for those who prefer a route with gentle gradients that’s just a few miles in length.
Starting point is the pleasant village of Dacre Banks, and the outward stretch follows the Nidderdale Way along a lovely path beside the River Nidd. From there, a few field paths lead to a tranquil stretch of the old Nidd Valley Railway line, which is followed back to Dacre Banks. The 14-mile track opened in 1862 and linked the Harrogate-Ripon line with Pateley Bridge. It closed to passenger services in 1951 and goods trains in 1964, but the old trackbed now offers walkers splendid views across Nidderdale. Look out for kingfishers on the Nidd, curlews and oystercatchers in the fields.
1. On the south side of the bridge over the River Nidd descend steps and walk along the riverbank, with a bowling green on the right. Follow this path, part of the Nidderdale Way, eastwards. Further on, opposite a Private Fishing sign cross a stile on the right and continue to follow the river.
2. Ignore one handgate on the right and continue to another. Walk beneath a railway bridge, continue through a gate to the left of a wall and follow the wall up the field. Near the top corner turn right through a gate and continue to another handgate. Don’t go through but turn right to reach a wall stile that’s visible up a slight slope. Turn right on the other side, and over another stile turn left to walk through a strip of woodland.
3. At the end of the woodland turn right to follow the path across the access road to Pyefield House. Go through a handgate ahead and follow the path to another gate. Turn left to join the obvious trackbed of the dismantled Nidd Valley Railway as it runs through Low Hall Wood.
4. Cross the access road to Low Hall and continue ahead to a metal gate. Bear right here into a field, aiming for a stile to the left of a gate on the far side. Continue along a track, passing houses and the Royal Oak pub to emerge at a small green. Turn right here to return to the start.
Difficulty Rating: 1 stars
Distance: 3 miles
Time: 1 1/2 hours
Maps: OS Explorer (1:25000) 298 Nidderdale
Parking: Dacre Banks, on B6451 off B6165 Ripley-Pateley Bridge road
Public transport: Dacre Banks is on the 24 bus route between Harrogate and Pateley Bridge operated by Harrogate Bus Co. For times visit www.harrogatebus.co.uk
Refreshments: Dacre Banks; Summerbridge
Toilets: Dacre Banks