Lofthouse Scarhouse mountain bike ride

View of upper Nidderdale & Scarhouse reservoir
View of upper Nidderdale & Scarhouse reservoir

This mountain bike route starts in Lofthouse, and is a tour of upper Nidderdale.

There's a stark beauty to the landscape, even if you can't help wondering what might be, in terms of abundance and diversity of wildlife, if the moorland here wasn't managed for grouse shooting.

There's nothing too difficult or technical about the route, which is on wide tracks, with some up and downhill. Perhaps the steepest downhill section is towards Woo Gill, about 1.5km before Scarhouse reservoir.

All in all, it's an enjoyable ride out in the fresh air and countryside.

Lofthouse Scarhouse mountain bike ride: map

The best Ordnance Survey map is the Nidderdale 1:25,000 Explorer, which includes a mobile download.

OS Explorer Nidderdale map

Lofthouse Scarhouse mountain bike ride: route notes

Lofthouse Scarhouse mountain bike ride: parking

Layby beyond Lofthouse
Layby beyond Lofthouse

I drive through Lofthouse and park in a layby on the right, by some recycling bins, immediately before the turn to Stean.

Lofthouse Scarhouse mountain bike ride: up Trapping Hill

Map showing Lofthouse and Trapping Hill
Open Street map showing Lofthouse and Trapping Hill (click to enlarge)

From the parking, head back to Lofthouse, and near the Crown pub, turn left up a steep hill through the village. The elite women climbed this hill (Trapping Hill) during the road race at the 2019 UCI World Championships. It is steep.

Chloe Dygert climbs Trapping Hill
Chloe Dygert climbs Trapping Hill at the 2019 UCI road World Championships

After the gradient has eased, but just before the very top of the hill, turn left on a track called Dale Edge.

Lofthouse Scarhouse mountain bike ride: Dale Edge

Map showing Dale Edge, Nidderdale
Map showing Dale Edge, Nidderdale (click to enlarge)

The track along Dale Edge is wide enough for a vehicle. You've got a good vantage point as you ride, with views into the dale to the left. Soon, you pass Shooting House.

Shooting House, Dale Edge
Shooting House, Dale Edge

You're going north initially, then the track curves round to head west.

Map Dale Edge, Nidderdale
Map showing part of Dale Edge (click to enlarge)

Scarhouse reservoir comes into view (see photo at the top of this page). You continue along Dale Edge until the track descends towards the valley. The last bit of the descent to the stream (Woo Gill, I think) is steep.

Lofthouse Scarhouse mountain bike ride: to Scarhouse reservoir

Map showing Scarhouse reservoir
Map showing route near Scarhouse reservoir (click to enlarge)

Continue (now on the Nidderdale Way) to Scarhouse reservoir. Cross the bridge/dam at the end of the reservoir.

Scar House reservoir
Scarhouse reservoir

If you've had enough or you're short of time, you could take the road back down to Lofthouse. If not, head up towards Middlesmoor: this means turning right at the far end of the dam, along the side of the reservoir for a short distance; then first left on a byway uphill.

Lofthouse Scarhouse mountain bike ride: to Middlesmoor

The first 500m or so on the byway (In Moor Lane/Nidderdale Way) are quite steep as you climb away from the reservoir. Then the gradient eases towards a spot height of 434m.

Map showing In Moor Lane
Map showing In Moor Lane (click to enlarge)

Vehicles are allowed on this byway, so don't be surprised to come across a 4x4, or a convoy of them. They have quite an impact on the track, too, which has deep wheel ruts.

The track descends to Middlemoor, where there's a hotel/pub called The Crown. As it's just an easy downhill on the road from Middlesmoor to Lofthouse, you could justify a half of Black Sheep at the pub.

Middlesmoor
Middlesmoor

The road goes back down to Lofthouse, and the layby where I suggested parking is just before the village.

Map showing Middlesmoor
Map showing Middlesmoor and the last part of the route (click to enlarge)

Let me know what you think in the comments.