East Witton to Colsterdale on to Ellingstring and back to East Witton
This walk is curtesy of Diana Jolland who has compiled a little book of ten circular walks in Wensleydale. You can find the book for sale in the Leyburn Arts and Community Centre in The Old School House. A route to walk after a good dry spell or be prepared for a bit of mud and standing water. A walk of magnificent views into Wensleydale, Colsterdale and Nidderdale.
A friend and I set off on an early February morning with a layer of frost on the ground, I was a little apprehensive as to whether we would be able to do route we had planned as when setting off from West Burton there was low cloud rolling up the dale. Going down to Leyburn on the The Little White Bus though the top of Penhill revealed itself and I was hopeful. Leyburn was dreary but we continued to East Witton always having it in mind that we could do a walk through Jervaulx keeping to the low lands and a known route. On coming down to Cover Bridge the mist had melted away leaving a gloriously clear morning tinged with frost and quite, quite beautiful. Happily we set off on unknown territory armed with Diana’s instruction, the maps, compass and usual sustenance. Oh, and walking sticks, for me as always now, just in case we needed them going over the moor.
We set off in a southerly direction along Lowthorpe, and proceeded to where a track, Sowden Beck Road, a single track road, leaves Lowthorpe on the right. Quite a steep pull up here for quite a way, passing by Ted Banks seat but still continuing up hill. When you come to a gate in front of you which looks as if it might be the way, turn sharp left here to take you down to Sowden Beck Farm, crossing the stream via a wooden bridge. Continue to the farm, through a metal gate and up onto the moor keeping the wall on your right and a stream on your left. Eventually you’ll come to another gate, go through here and keep straight ahead. The way varied as to how easy it was to follow but always keep in mind that you are going in a southerly direction. You’ll pass grouse butts, walk over the heather, there’ll be water about unless it’s been very dry. We were lucky on our day as it was quite icy rather than muddy. Soon you will start to drop down into Colsterdale with Sliptone Crags coming into view. You can just catch a glimpse of Leighton Reservoir from here and the disused chimney in Nidderdale. Keep on going to a minor road, the way is quite clear but do refer to your map as you go along. Turn left and continue along this little used road to Gollinglith Foot village.
Here you can sit and rest by the stream before tackling the climb up along the Six Dales Trail. From here follow the Six Dales Trail markers, venturing through a gate signed ‘Low Agra Private Road Only’ soon you will see a small white gate on your right, go through here to the plantation. As you approach a telegraph pole will come into view, where the pathway forks just here take the right hand way and continue uphill. Through another gate out into the field, keep slightly to the left then veer over to the right to the other plantation, ever walking up hill and to the gate just on the left of the plantation above High Agra. You will pick up a way marker here, follow onward round a field and through walls but always with way markers to guide you. Here it becomes a little tricky as you need to go over to the left at some point but if you go wrong just retrace your steps and take a left turn to pick up the way markers again. Walk onwards to and alongside Ellingstring plantation and eventually down to Ellingstring.
Here we leave the Six Dales Trail and once on the road turn left and walk on to Moor Cote. Follow the detour before the main house entrance coming out into another planation keeping a wall on your left, you’ll come to a little pack horse bridge and after a few yards out into a field again. Sharp right here and through a small gateway. Quite muddy through here so take care, the way is quite defined through the wood, but ever onwards and we’re starting to loose height now and going through Grey Yaud Plantation. Come out through a gate into a field and keeping the wood on your left, walk onwards to a metal gate. Turn left here, following the red arrows, after a few yards turn right by the side of a little wood onto a track. Keep going taking care to look out for the left track taking you to Thirsting Castle Lodge. You need to go past the lodge and dog kennels now you’re back on a metalled lane and after a while you’ll pass through Waterloo Farm. Look out for the ancient graveyard on your left just before the houses of East Witton start.
About nine miles in total, quite a varied walk, interesting to say the least, most enjoyable as always, hope you enjoy too. We have Holly Tree Cottage in East Witton, a super cottage for two people, stay here and you can do this walk from the doorstep!