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Lancashire walk - Scorton and Wyresdale

PUBLISHED: 00:00 04 February 2015 | UPDATED: 11:19 14 October 2017

River Wyre

River Wyre

Keith Carter

Keith Carter discovers a lost village in the Wyresdale countryside close to the M6

Wyresdale Wyresdale

When they built the M6 through Wyresdale they didn’t have far to go for the gravel and roadstone needed since its route went plumb through an area of rich deposits. Once they had taken all they needed, the diggings were abandoned and filled with water to leave what is now called Wyresdale Lakes.

The land is owned by the Duchy of Lancaster but the lakes are under the management of Wyresdale Fisheries and are extensively stocked. The River Wyre flows through the area and the Wyre Way keeps pace with it on its way to the sea at Fleetwood. Fishing is the main leisure activity but walkers enjoy the area too, remembering to avoid those parts designated as having no public access.

Scorton Picnic Site is the best place to park, accessed from the A6 and signposted with those brown tourist signs which have a peculiarly 60s look about them. Those directing visitors to the Picnic Site have certainly seen better days. Leave the car park and turn right to cross Cleveley Bridge then take the footpath on the right the other side of the bridge, the sign saying Nan’s Nook.

Follow the woodland path beside the river, a delightful path in spring but prone to becoming rather muddy. We come to a stile taking us out of the wood followed by a second one and enter a field which we cross along the line of a shallow dyke, the M6 ahead. On reaching the motorway embankment go left up a ramp to where you find the steps leading up to a footbridge crossing the motorway. Go across and down the other side then cross two fields, completing the second beside a row of conifers, the usual urban interlopers Leylandii. How I hate them although I acknowledge they work as a barrier or wind break.

Exit the field at a stile, turn right onto an access track and enter Guys Activity Centre. You may have noticed that the farms in this area are named after families, Hodgsons, Bantons, Ashbournes and Cliftons to name but a few. The Activity Centre was inactive when I was there but you can see apparatus around, including the climbing wall which the path actually goes under through an opening to leave the centre at a hand-gate leading into a large, badly drained field.

Keep to the right hand edge and on reaching caravans, go through a gate to enter the site and walk through to the gateway where we turn right. We cross a car park to a second opening where a sign instructs all anglers and visitors to report to reception. A cinder track leads us to a large lake, Fox’s Lake, and here a way mark on a post on the right sends the Wyre Way through the trees, keeping parallel with the track we were just on. It seems to me you could have stayed on it since they both lead to the road near Street Bridge.

Curiously, this area is shown as Street on the Ordnance Map but if there ever was a village of that name here, no trace of it remains. The name ‘Street’ derives from the Latin strata meaning a paved road so this may be a clue that there was a Roman road in the area. Cross the bridge and stay on the road for about 50 yards until you see an opening on the right with a footpath sign and a locked gate but you can get round the side of it and cross the stream by a plank across it and find yourself in the car park where the fishermen park to fish Street Lake.

There’s a small hut where they probably huddle for a brew. Leave the car park by a stile then cross a second then take the left hand one of two paths, really no more than field paths worn down by boots. After two fields enter an area of mixed woodland where there was much pheasant activity when I was there, also a lot of blackbirds evidently feeding on hawthorn berries of which they are especially fond.

This path through the woods emerges on a well-maintained farm track and we turn right and walk along it for 50 yards or so, soon to leave it at a way mark on a post on the left. Don’t miss this turning. If you stay on the track you are not on a right of way and won’t be welcome. I did, and wasn’t.

Taking the correct path we go through more woodland then descend into a dell where a footbridge crosses a stream then we climb up steps the other side to the top of a bank and cross a stile and enter a field. Follow the right hand boundary beside a wood with a stream inside the fence then go through a kissing-gate and head towards some buildings ahead. These are the restored Foxhouses cottages, all neat and tidy with CCTV cameras keeping an eye on uninvited intruders.

Leaving the cottages, take the freshly tarmacked lane that leads directly to the road and turn right. Where the road bends left, turn right onto Cleveley Bank Lane which takes us over the motorway and brings us back to Scorton Picnic Site.

Compass points

Area of walk: Wyresdale

Distance walked: 4 miles

Time to allow: 2½ hours

Map: OS Explorer OL41 Forest of Bowland

Refreshments: None on walk.

Not suitable for wheelchair or pushchair users.

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