North from Blubberhouses by way of the Six Dales Trail to Thruscross Reservoir. Further north, passing Padside Green and Heyshaw, to the point where the trail meets the Nidderdale Way. South-west across High Crag Ridge, then south along Foldshaw Lane before heading west across Braithwaite Moor. South then south-east via Whit Moor Road back to Thruscross Reservoir, to follow a permissive path along the reservoir’s southern banks. Returning to Blubberhouses using the Six Dales Trail which runs alongside the River Washburn. A 15-mile walk in Nidderdale.
Thruscross Reservoir dam.
Thruscross Reservoir overflow.
Thruscross Reservoir weirs on the River Washburn.
Water tower on the Six Dales Trail.
Farmland in Nidderdale.
Time for a break on the Six Dales Trail.
The triangulation pillar at High Crag, 331 metres (1086 feet).
The view north-east towards Glasshouses.
Managed heather burning
The heather covering the moorland is an important habitat. Short (young) heather provides food for sheep and red grouse, and shelter and nest sites for some ground-nesting birds. Taller (older) heather provides shelter and nest sites for birds and other wildlife.
However, if left undisturbed, heather plants will live for over 20 years and the stems eventually become very tough and woody, with few leaves or flowers. Consequently, gamekeepers manage the heather by burning it when the stems get to about wellie-top height. They burn different patches each year in rotation, so that there are always areas of short heather and tall heather close together.
Burning takes place over the winter and in early spring when there are no birds nesting on the ground and the soil is generally wet. The fires are small and carefully controlled so they don’t spread or damage the peaty soil. The following year new green shoots grow from underground stems and seeds.
The result is moorland that often looks like a patchwork quilt, with some areas of short, young heather for grouse and sheep to eat and some patches of taller, older heather for grouse to shelter and nest in. This creates a more diverse habitat, which is better for many other plants and animals too.
Permissive footpath along the southern banks of Thruscross Reservoir.