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Horse House – Angram – Scar House Reservoir

Were not huge advocates of retracing our tracks on routes, but this one is an exception with a ride over the tops from the hamlet of Horse House near Kettlewell and then looping Angram and Scar House reservoirs. Forming a lollipop shaped route. The ride starts in Coverdale a lesser known dale which runs off to the right of Kettlewell. Whilst the ride starts in Coverdale, most of the ride is in Nidderdale.

Scar House and Angram reservoirs are located among the striking scenery of Upper-Nidderdale. Built to supply water to Bradford, the water is transferred to Chellow Heights via the Nidd Aqueduct, A major engineering feat as it requires no pumping. To this day it is Bradford’s main source of water.

The route starts with the obligatory leg busting climb, petering out for a while, maybe its too many pies, but re riding this route in 2020 fourteen years after originally mapping it I found some of the climb too steep and happily resorted to pushing and enjoying the view instead. There is an amazing and steep descent into Upper Nidderdale with great views.

It has to be said that if you have time, both the reservoirs are a fine place to amble a few hours away in the sunshine, the valley has a lovely chilled feeling about it.


Total distance 9.3Miles
Grin Factor

Total Distance: 9.3 Miles
Total Climbing: 1978.3 ft
Time: 3 hrs

Off-road: 7 mi

On-road: 2.3 mi

Climbing Distance: 3.6 mi
Descent Distance: 4.7 mi
Flat Distance: 1 mi

Terrain: Muddy in winter, some deep ruts from 4x4s, not fast but you gets your buzz in different ways.


Elapsed TimeMoving TimeDistanceAverage SpeedMax SpeedElevation Gain
Huffing and puffing up Coverdale

The Route

Start Point:  GPS – N 54 13.405 W 1 55.970 Horsehouse in Coverdale – Park anywhere in the village.

  • With your back to the pub in Horsehouse, retrace your tracks down the road for 600m taking your first left signposted Arkeside. Follow the tarmac until the track forks left through a gate, taking you onto the moor.
  • Very steep gradient climbing for 2.5 km, till you reach the highpoint of the route.
  • Descent into Nidderdale, as the stunning views of both reservoirs comes into view. It’s a bit of a mixed bag of a descent, a little washed out in places with 4×4 erosion. Continue till you come to a stream and take the right hand track signposted footpath, it is in fact a permissive bridleway.
  • At this point you have the reservoir on you left, and keep it that way, till you reach and cross Angram dam. Turn left, after the dam, and take the fast tarmac to Scar house Dam crossing the reservoir. You have to stop and marvel at the feat of engineering (over one million tonnes of masonry & 600 metres long) but that’s another thing!
  • At the end of this bridge bear left up a broad cobbled road (dead man’s hill), and not left alongside the water.
  • Continue on this track till you return to the stream and retrace your steps back to the start point.

Route Photos

Horse House - Scar House Bike Route
From Horse House descend 800 yards from the village. Left towards Arkleside.
Horse House - Scar House Bike Route
Through the gate and climb. The unsuitable for cycles sign gives you a clue how steep it's going to be.
Horse House - Scar House Bike Route
Looking back towards Coverdale.
Horse House - Scar House Bike Route
Looking ahead, what's to climb (gulp).
Horse House - Scar House Bike Route
To your right Little Whernside.
Horse House - Scar House Bike Route
Brow of the hill. First views of the reservoir.
Horse House - Scar House Bike Route
The terrain. Its steeper than it looks.
Horse House - Scar House Bike Route
Following the trail anti clockwise towards Angram Reservoir.
Horse House - Scar House Bike Route
Crossing Angram.
Horse House - Scar House Bike Route
View into Nidderdale from Angram.
Horse House - Scar House Bike Route
Scar House Reservoir.
Horse House - Scar House Bike Route
Crossing Scar House.
Horse House - Scar House Bike Route
Picking up the return trail back to Horse House.

Food & Stuff

Nothing en route. There’s a pub The Thwaite Arms at the start point in Horse House but it was closed when we tried. The nearest shop is probably the Kettlewell village store about 8 miles away. Do yourself a favour, make some tasty sandwiches and make a day of it. The Upper Nidderdale valley has a great feel about it and it’s worth hanging about for a few hours.

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