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UPPER Dunsforth is a little place near York, but it's nearer Boroughbridge and even nearer Lower Dunsforth, which we walked to via the river.
The upper village, it's only a matter of feet in altitude, has an SSSI named Upper Dunsforth Carrs.
Here, thanks to the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, we took the permissive path and duckboards through acres where the peat lies 20 feet deep, and where there are six species of rush, a bay willow and an aspen thicket. This is a rare sight, but once the norm here before agricultural drainage.
The river is a mile away. Half of that we did with ease on a track cum linear resting place for ex sheds called Gale Gate, a lane restless with chained dogs. The rest we managed by skirting thistle and ploughed land, a stretch livened by a tree full of small birds and an attendant hawk.
The last bit was over pasture with thorn trees that were once hedge and where spiders drifted in the air on threads of silk. And then the river.
Our first sight was of a kingfisher arrowing electric blue over a glassy surface wide and long to vanish into banks of willows.
We lay down, didn't move a muscle but to chew a sandwich, noted a big high raptor and otherwise just watched the river so still and the clouds reflected.
All was very quiet and could have induced an hour's doze in sun. The kingfisher did return, and another predator of perch and roach arrived with a rod and pedigree, being a member of the Hambleton Ramblers.
We talked, left him to compete with the kingfisher, and walked the floodbank. It's a lovely stretch of a river that drains huge territories to the north and west. Here, a mile downstream from the confluence of the Ure and Swale, it has the name Ure, and for three more miles until it is renamed The Ouse and in ten miles reaches York.
Here and there, to one side, are stands of very tall giant hogweeds, brittle, dramatic and dead, like inverted parasols, plants that should not be touched. At another place cattle lumbered up from the waterside to try to stare us down and claim the floodbank with their tons of beef. They parted, soft as salami. Narrow barges are painted dark blue to shocking pink and sport conifers, wind generators and digital aerials.
That was the two miles of riverside, bar ducks, and after a caravan site there's the Anglers Inn with a pike. This is Lower Dunsforth. The village is similar to the upper version but a tad larger. It's a mile between the two, by the back lane that is closed to traffic until mid November, or across the fields.
We chose the latter, despite having been caught up by the ploughing on the way out. Actually the path across a sown field should have been reinstated for pedestrians because it was greening.
Looking at the OS map, I can see that the pub-less Upper Dunsforth is connected by various paths and tracks to three nearly equidistant villages, all blessed with inns. Talk about the midnight rambler.
When in doubt look at the map. Check your position at each point. Keep straight on unless otherwise directed.
1 From post box in Upper Dunsforth, cross T-junction, road, 200 yards, snickelgate on left (Wildlife Trust info board). Fieldgate.
2 Before fieldgate and troughs, left 100 yards, snickelgate into wood, footbridge, duckboards, snickelgate, field-edge path, snickelgate, 50 yards, snickelgate on right (info board), path, gate.
3 Right to road, 100 yards, road on left (fingerpost) becomes track. Pass house and sheds, gate', 300 yards.
4 About 50 yards before fieldgate, left, 50 yards by trees to gates with pond to right, 25 yards, right through scrub for ten yards, field-edge path.
5 From corner, angle across field if path reinstated to hedge gap (fingerpost behind hedge and out of sight), otherwise stay by edge then left by sweetcorn/thistles or, if gone, by hedge.
6 Right to track, becomes grass, fieldgate into field (old sign), path by trees then to right of big ditch, 100 yards.
7 Rickety footbridge on left, immediately right. Left to riverside path (gateway, ten stiles).
8 Left immediately before a stile to verge with hedge to right (no waymark), left at corner, 50 yards, drive on right through chalets. Left to road in Lower Dunsforth.
9 First path on right (garden wall stile, fingerpost), two adjacent stiles and left near fence, fieldgate, 100 yards, fieldgate (fingerpost), cross lane, path to right of hedge until 100 yards before corner then angle one o'clock to hedge gap and footbridge.
10 Large field. If path reinstated follow. We took hedge to right. 100 yards before road path angles across field next to house.
11 Right to road back to Upper Dunsforth.
Distance: Five miles.
General location: Near York.
Start: Upper Dunsforth.
Right of way: Public and permissive paths.
Map: Drawn from OS Explorer 299 Ripon and Boroughbridge.
Dogs: Not allowed on Upper Dunsforth Carrs.
Date walked: October 2007.
Road route: From York via Green Hammerton.
Car parking: Roadside in Upper Dunsforth.
Refreshments: Inn at Lower Dunsforth.
Tourist and public transport Information: Harrogate TIC 08453 893223.
Terrain: Flat floodplain.
Please observe the Country Code and park sensibly. While every effort is made to provide accurate information, walkers set out at their own risk.