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Country walk around Yearsley
George Wilkinson strides out in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Yearsley is in the Howardian Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) on an upland part, a plateau that is designated zone number one.
We were halfway along the linear village, altitude 500ft, admiring a cast iron wall plaque of the unicorn of the Fauconberg crest dated 1882. The owner said it was a nice quiet village. We followed a sign to Four Acre Wood, you see more than that as the route slices right through the biggest plantation in the AONB. Quiet it was, just the chatter of crows, until we jumped out of our Gortex when a bird scarer banged off right by the footpath. Recovered, we progressed through the peace of the pines.
High Lions’ Lodge has old lion gateposts, a Fauconberg crest like the one in the village, but dated 1873, and the place has a problem with agri-plastic waste. Down a slope there’s Low Lions Lodge, also a farm, and a hillside here was desolate with felling.
By now we’d seen, and a hazy day just permitted it, the Kilburn White Horse and Ampleforth Abbey both a few miles away.
A wind turbine powers a farm; the giant grass is miscanthus, a biofuel.
Thorpe Hall and its parkland are near but we turned away for the valley of Thorpe Beck.
The valley becomes notably wide and flat, the beck runs a yard across, a foot deep and clear, a place for heron, kingfisher and white clawed crayfish.
The ground is boggy in bits requiring some tussock to tussock hopping.
A sign reads “Ampleforth Estate Wildlife Sanctuary”.
Two runners zoomed past, later a couple of soldiers emerged, camouflaged with blackened faces.
Here, conifer forest surrounds 18th century landscaping where fish ponds are strung together through land named the Wilderness. The waters are separated by wetlands of birch and oak so it’s a great place for wildlife. Pike lurk in the lovely ponds and swimming and water sports are forbidden.
For the rest, well it’s big on conifers though short on views, providing one good sighting of Ampleforth’s valley but nothing from Newton Hill, but the pleasant paths, tracks and rides were being enjoyed by local walkers and spring birds sang in the tree tops.
When in doubt look at the map. Check your position at each point. Keep straight on unless otherwise directed.
1. From the crossroads at Yearsley, walk into the village on the Easingwold Road (sign). Track on right between 2 houses (fingerpost Four Acre Wood ¾ miles), through side of garden/yard, 100 yards, fieldgate, skirt grass pitch, join path to snickelgate, field-edge path.
2. Gateway and right (waymark), 100 yards, left at corner (waymark), join track, pass line of trees (waymark).
3. Left along grass track at edge of wood. Ignore first track on right. Small gate to track on right (3-way fingerpost) for 100 yards through wood, right to road uphill, 200 yards.
4. Gate/fieldgate/stile on left (fingerpost), cross grass field, gate/fieldgate and through farmyard, fieldgates out, 50 yards, stile (old waymark), cross drive, stile, field-edge path downhill, pass house and wood.
5. Gate (waymark) and right downhill by wall to your right, pass wood (waymark), downhill, fieldgate (waymark), 100 yards by fence and felled wood then slightly diagonally uphill to snickelgate/fieldgate (waymark), cross field fieldgate (waymark) to right of concrete barn.
6. Through farmyard, join track downhill. Right at junction (fingerpost other way) to narrow road. Cross road, cross field (fingerpost).
7. Gap into field (Countryside Stewardship Signs) and EITHER left downhill, right at field corner and follow beck (some white permissive waymarks), stile, boggy area, gateway, 25 yards, gate on right (3-way fingerpost Yearsley), cross drive at signs and up to large pond. OR if after September 2011 when that permissive path might have expired go straight on, pass below Redcar House take the drive out downhill, 200 yards, path on right, small bridge, path on dam wall. 8. Along dam wall, path through trees 20 yards, right to main track uphill (waymark on tree). Half mile, ignore path on right to next pond dam.
9. At waymark post, path on right to dam between two ponds, path uphill 100 yards, left ten yards, right uphill on track. Ignore a right-hand bend, 25 yards, gap by forest gate.
10. Pass uninhabited house, 400 yards, track/path on left (3-way fingerpost Yearsley), 150 yards, right (waymark post), 200 yards, right to track uphill (waymark post), 200 yards.
11. Immediately before track crosses stream, second path on right (no sign) up through trees, 100 yards, left to path (waymark post), cross track to path (waymark post).
12. Left to road, wide verge.
Distance: Six miles.
General Location: Howardian Hills.
Right of Way: Public and permissive.
Date walked: March 2011.
Road Route: Various.
Car Parking: Roadside at Yearsley.
Tourist & Public Transport Information: Easingwold TIC 01347 821530.
Map: Drawn from OS Explorer 300 Howardian Hills.
• Please observe the Country Code and park sensibly. While every effort is made to provide accurate information, walkers set out at their own risk.