This short enjoyable walk includes the delightful village of Bewerley and takes you through Fishpond Wood.
The trail was developed several years ago by local members of Nidderdale Tree Wardens, who work in their respective parishes across the Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, promoting the interests of trees and woodland, and encouraging good woodland management.
Fishpond Wood is ancient semi-natural woodland – there have always been trees here. However, some trees have been felled, some new ones planted and others have regenerated naturally. There are no ancient trees but the woodland soil has developed over centuries and is an important habitat.
It is thought that the pond dates back to monastic times and provided a regular supply of fish for Bewerley Grange, one of Fountains Abbey’s farms. In 1764 the Yorke family moved to Bewerley and were responsible for the landscaping and the laying out of footpaths.
Rhododendrons were introduced into the UK in 1793, when it was considered a fashionable shrub. As it is damaging to other plants, attempts are now being made to clear some areas to allow the natural ground flora to regenerate and improve the diversity of the species.
In recent years a great deal of work has been carried out in Fishpond Wood as part of the Heritage Lottery funded Upper Nidderdale Landscape Partnership. A number of trees have been removed and the pond has been de-silted.
Tucked away in the eastern corner of the woodland is an icehouse built in the late 18th century to serve Bewerley Hall with ice for preserving food, and for cool refreshments. It has been restored as part of the Landscape Partnership’s work.
1. Start at the showground car park in Pateley Bridge. Cross the road to the pavement and turn left towards the garage, passing the children’s playground on your right.
Continue up the hill past the pub and take the road to the left sign-posted Bewerley, which leads into the village.
The village green is edged with mature cherry trees, which are a delight in spring with their mass of blossom.
Walk through the village to Bewerley Grange Chapel. Built around 1485, the chapel is now restored and well worth a visit; the grounds contain yew, walnut and cherry trees.
2. Continue along the road until you reach a metal gate on the right, just before Peat Lane: this is the entrance to Fishpond Wood. Go through the gate and up the steep stone steps, taking particular care if it is wet.
Please note that Fishpond Wood is privately owned. You are welcome to enjoy the woodland but please keep to the public right of way and permissive paths.
3. While walking through the wood, notice the rhododendrons throughout the woodland. They are glorious when in flower but damaging to other plants.
Follow the path up through the wood past the beech trees towards the elder shrubs. This area of woodland floor is covered in bluebells in spring and early summer.
4. Continue to walk up the path. When the path forks, walk down towards the pond.
Follow the path across the dam where an Alder tree stands dipping its roots in the water by the stone fishing jetty. Reed mace, often confused with bulrush, grows in the shallow water. Marsh marigolds adorn this area in the spring.
5. Cross over the small footbridge. Just before you reach the gate note the fine beech tree which has been split by strong winds.
To leave the wood, go through the gate and turn right up the hill. Take care, as it is very steep and use the steps next to the wall. At the top there are hawthorn, elder and blackthorn growing together.
Go through the gate and walk down the field heading north and cross over the broken wall at the bottom of the field, taking care as it can be boggy.
6. Head to the gate and look to the left at the hedgerow, which consists of hawthorn and willow. Look out for traffic as you go through the gate and turn right up the lane.
As you walk back to the village you will see the tall Corsican Pine next to the Victorian House on the left. The lane leads back into Bewerley; turn left at the road junction and walk back to Pateley Bridge.
l For information, and to download an audio trail of Fishpond Wood, visit www.uppernidderdale.org.uk.