With this current very cold, but beautiful sunny weather, we decided to venture further afield and headed to Grimwith Reservoir in the Yorkshire Dales and find some proper snow!
The snow hadn’t reached us so there were still green fields, with the odd dusting of snow here and there and thick frost where the sun couldn’t reach, but in the distance the tops were covered in a blanket of the white stuff. As we carried on into the Dales, the snow got thicker and covered even the valley bottoms. We arrived at Grimwith Reservoir, owned by Yorkshire Water and stopped at the gate just off the main road. Beyond, the road to the car park looked like a skating rink and we erred – the actual car park is quite a way along this road. Taking stock, we decided to park on the other side of the gate in a little layby and walk in and not risk getting stuck or sliding off the road.
We wrapped ourselves up so we looked like Michelin Men and even The Dog donned her coat. The sun shone and the snow glistened as we walked up the road towards the car park, keeping on the verge for grip. The road was solid ice. Several cars passed us, making us feel wimps for parking by the gate, but there was a steep incline and the cars took it slowly and steadily. We came up to the edge of the reservoir and the final climb to the car park which had quite a few cars considering. A snow cloud came over, dropping light snowflakes on us, swirling in the light breeze as we followed the track out the other side and found a footpath that dropped us down towards the water’s edge. Snow crunched under our walking boots and we watched where we put our feet – it was quite safe, but it was an uneven gravel path. We came up to a small thatched building which is a very unusual roof covering in the Dales – in the sunshine, with the snow laden cloud moving on, it looked almost Scandinavian. We couldn’t get close to it to check it out, but presumed it was part of the water company’s maintenance buildings.
We carried on, The Dog on her lead, her nose heightened by the cold, was on full sniff alert. She loves the snow- we made snowballs for her to catch and chomp – nothing makes you feel colder than watching your hounds eat snow with relish. We walked on, following the edge of the reservoir, past clumps of hardy pine woodland, adjacent fields and fells. It was an easy trail to follow and relatively flat, a few steady pulls up, but nothing too strenuous. When the sun disappeared behind a lingering cloud or we ducked into shadow, the temperature dropped considerably and a couple of times, the wind picked up on the more exposed area and caught our breath.
But the views were stunning and it was lovely to walk in crunchy snow on a mid winter’s day, the sun shining with blue sky – the sort of day that makes you appreciate being alive and enjoying nature’s raw beauty. You felt you could flick the sky with your fingers and hear the satisfying ping of crystal, it was that crisp and clear.
Soon we were walking on the top of the dam itself with views reaching south across the fells of Wharfedale and beyond. We reached the road again and started back towards the car – the ice had melted considerably since we had arrived, turned into slush by car tyres, but on a steep hill, where the sun hadn’t touched it, the ice remained hard and compact – we agreed that we wouldn’t like to drive down that. As we strolled back, several cars had abandoned the idea of reaching the car park, parking along the road instead – tucked into little laybys and flat areas of exposed gravel and dirt. Cars were still coming in – it was getting quite busy – but several of them soon passed us again, having turned around and seeking another place to park. Perhaps that icy incline was putting people off. Incredulously, a motorhome appeared and we gasped in surprise – what was he thinking!! We advised him of the state of the road and within minutes, he had turned around and slunking back. Our own little parking spot had become full with four other cars and that made us feel better and not so wimpish after all. We had walked some 4.5 miles around the reservoir and it had certainly shook off the Christmas cobwebs and got us vitalised again after a 10 days of slothiness and lethargy which comes with a festive week of overeating, drinking and not really doing much. Even The Dog appreciated the longer walk, happy to be out somewhere different and not being dragged around the same block again by owners, reluctant to leave the warmth of a blazing fire and the chance of a mince pie or sausage roll.
We headed down to Grassington and found the Yorkshire Dales National Park car park where we ate our packed lunch and drunk our flasks of hot sweet tea, before making use of their toilets, which were thankfully open. Finding public toilets open in the middle of this pandemic is a bit of a hit and miss affair, so it’s a pleasure to find such a facility rather than loitering behind a bush and exposing your nether regions to the biting cold. The sun was sinking towards the distant fells and we decided to head home before it got dark and icy again. It had been a cracking day out.