GEORGE WILKINSON visits Blubberhouses Moor and discovers that it is not always a good idea to follow the Romans.

BLUBBERHOUSES sits on the crossing of the Pennines that is west from Harrogate. The village has become a popular place for the pretty walks around the Washburn Valley and especially for Yorkshire Water’s reservoir routes.

Blubberhouses Moor is a different kettle of fish, and we targeted the straight Roman Road that runs over the moor, new territory for us.

Luckily, rain turned to shine and we soon found the Roman Road, its line, and sometimes its profile.

Apart from the obligatory compass, there are additional aids to navigation, most nicely the view of the A59 Skipton Road that was also Roman and lines up with our length. Also a drainage ditch named The Runner, runs close and parallel.

Surprisingly this ditch has recently been dug out to speed the water from the moor, presumably to benefit the heather and the grouse, which is not best modern practice and odd so near to the road and to the reservoirs.

On the plus side, 4x4s have been banned from the moor.

All continued well enough, although my navigator did suggest we were going the wrong way round, and she had a point as the views behind were interesting, to the many white balls of the Menwith Hill eavesdropping station, the nearby wind farm, and beyond.

We reached a lump of rock called the Eagles Stone. Greylag geese made a very close, honking, overhead pass, to check us out.

Geese are socially intelligent and I read that they "may understand third party relationships", i.e. they buy into their neighbours’ attitudes, hence the later heavy flyovers, although one pass might have told them my trekking pole was not a shotgun.

We reached a point, a grid reference on Sug Marsh where, innocents at large, we checked and pondered and, not sure of the line of another path, decided to keep following the Romans. The march became a slow manoeuvre through rushes and mounds of club moss, so I would recommend the route option on my map, the track/path not taken, to avoid the bog and the splendid geese.

The way back was easier, bringing sight of Ilkley and Otley in Wharfedale and linking with a very old way named Badger Gate, a badger being perhaps a travelling salesman, and then to lovely beech woods and Fewston Reservoir.

The water was a mirror; the dam wall held the low sun and glowed like a bar of gold. The reservoir fringe was beautiful, the path wheelchair smooth, past spring flowers and mangrove willows, and grey herons cruised the sunset waters, and we glided in bliss.


When in doubt look at the map. Check your position at each point. Keep straight on unless otherwise directed. (wm=waymark).

1. From car park, left to road uphill for 200 yards, track on right, pass houses. At gate, path on left, gate to walled track.

2. Fieldgate (signs) to moor, grass track 50 yards, path angles left uphill (white topped posts). Crest hill.

3. Cross new track and stream to ‘path’ on/by Roman Road with ditch/stream on your right. After about 1/3 mile, where path fainter and at bridge, left 50 yards across moor and right to surfaced track.

4. Track ends at ford with Eagles Stone to left, 20 yards, fork right to faint path uphill from small rock, bear 250˚, 700 yards.

5. At SE 139536, either find path on left south west to No.7, or battle on along boggy Roman Road.

6. At wire fence/ruined wall, left downhill 400 yards.

7. Fieldgate to path uphill for 150 yards, fieldgate/ladderstile on left (near old waymark stone), straight on to track/path, path descends.

8. In boggy area find good path that turns right uphill to cairn.

9. At cairn/boundary stone, left on ridge path. Straight on at four-way junction (stone wm), wall and wood to left. After cottage, metal fieldgate to track, gate/cattlegrid, right at T-junction.

10. Left to road (verge), fieldgate on right to track immediately after Rues Barn, stile (wm) into wood, straight on 100 yards, track on left for 25 yards, fork right downhill by old wall to your left. Right to track and straight on at junction (yellow wm).

11. Cross track, squeezer and stile into field, 100 yards, gate on right, left at small ruin to walled track.

12. Fieldgate, left to road. At dam, left to surfaced path by reservoir.

Fact File

Distance: Ten miles.

Car parking: Free Yorkshire Water car park.

Right of way: Public and permissive paths and open access.

Date walked: April 2015.

Map: OS Explorer 297 Lower Wharfedale and Washburn Valley.

Terrain: Moor.

Difficulty: Compass and fair weather walk.

Please observe the Country Code and park sensibly. While every effort is made to provide accurate information, walkers set out at their own risk.