Visit Colsterdale

During the First World War Breary Banks village, a former reservoir workers’ village 5 miles west of the town of Masham, was used as a training camp, most famously for the Leeds Pals Battalion. Later it became a Prisoner of War (POW) camp.

Situated in the valley of Colsterdale, in what is now Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Breary Banks village became known as ‘Colsterdale Camp’.

In September 1914 the Leeds Pals Battalion moved to Breary Banks for their first months of training. 1,200 men occupied part of the reservoir workers’ village where they spent nearly 9 months learning how to be soldiers. They were followed by other units, until, in 1916, the camp was converted into a Prison Camp for German Officers.

Colsterdale Camp is a rare survivor from the First World War. Other similar camps were often re-used in the Second World War, or have been covered over by new buildings, but this former settlement was left to revert to its original state as upland pasture.

Although other units trained here, the story of the Leeds Pals remains closely connected with the Colsterdale Camp and its landscape. People continue to come here to remember the Pals, and others affected by armed conflicts.

Planning a visit to Colsterdale

You can visit the sites of the former 'navvie' village, training camp and prison camp and see traces of the village in the landscape. Make sure too that you take a few minutes to stop and reflect at the memorial cairn to the Leeds Pals, which was built in the 1930s.

You can download details of an audio trail around Colsterdale camp here this tour involces a short stroll around along a quiet relatively level stretch of country lane that offers greate views ad easy access. A First World War Heritage Trail offers a more in-depth walking tour of the valley partly using public Rights of Way (this is a circular 3 mile walk).

How to get to Colsterdale

Colsterdale camp, now an archaeological site, is situated about 5 miles west of the town of Masham, close to the villages of Fearby and Healey.

To reach the site of the memorial cairn which is in the centre of the camp, follow the brown signs to the Leeds Pals memorial cairn from Masham.The postcode for the road where the memorial is situated is HG4 4LW.

The Ordnance Survey coordinates for the memorial cairn are SE 15571 80099

There is limited roadside parking at the Memorial, please park responsibly. Please also be aware that the area surrounding the memorial is private land and treat it with respect. Thank you.