10:29am Saturday 22nd October 2011
By George Wilkinson
George Wilkinson puts navigation skills to the test at Thoralby.
Thoralby’s George Inn was a lure, but sober we left the village and made for Folly Lane, where stands Folly House which is uninhabited. That was it for buildings, bar Bolton Castle catching some distant sun in Wensleydale.
Then things went smoothly for a while on the long and useful track named Flout Moor Lane.
Castle Dykes Henge is just off route. Thousands of years ago, people met for some purpose in the 75-yard diameter ditch and bank circle.
On our day there was nobody anywhere, only once a glimpse of a shepherd in the empty grasslands. We didn’t linger, because of a thousand feet of climbing and maybe not a surplus of daylight and perhaps the notion of folly had wormed in.
As we climbed, there was a clear view of Addlebrough from about level with its table-flat top. Black Pasture was strangely scattered with small, wire, bird pens. Springs and streams were lively.
I’d concocted this walk looking at maps of these high grasslands between Wensleydale and Bishopdale, on the Ordnance Survey sheet it’s marked as track all the way and on Google Maps the long loop was visible.
On the ground, said tracks need a certain concentration, while miles are stone and walled there are many where it’s grass on grass, a question of vehicle marks or texture. We managed without much fuss to reach the top, though the top here on Stake Fell is a large flat of grass with some ruined shark’s tooth stone walls and really quite bleak.
We puzzled at a flock that flew around and around above us, and we took our only wrong turn, a five-minute error, ‘would have ended up in the head of the valley’, joked my navigator. I presumed she meant Bishopdale. We checked the compass and the torches, torch singular it turned out.
But once we’d found Stake Road, the track took us smoothly back along and above Bishopdale, gradually, relaxed, slowly descending, as crows settled, a heron left and all was hushed, and here and there a light came on in the valley.
When in doubt look at the map. Check your position at each point. Keep straight on unless otherwise directed.
View a map of the Thoralby country walk>>
1. From The George Inn, road through village away from green, pass village hall with car park behind. Before Town Head Farm, metaled drive on right, 50 yards, track, fieldgate/gateway, (fingerpost bridleway), uphill.
2. After sharp right turn, 100 yards then at sharp left, go straight on through pair of metal fieldgates with concrete, track across field, squeezer/fieldgate (fingerpost), 50 yards uphill, one o’clock across large pasture to gate (fingerpost-yellow paint) up in far corner, downhill 11 o’clock for 150 yards.
3. Squeezer/fieldgate to walled track, ten yards, footbridge/ford, uphill. Pass old barn (Folly House).
4. Left at tracks ‘T’ junction (fingerpost Gayle Ings 2¼ miles). Fieldgate, track continues by wall, fieldgate to walled track, uphill.
5. Option. Wallstile on left (plaque) to henge and return to route. Otherwise, ford, fieldgate by waterfalls, 20 yards into field.
6. At three-way fingerpost, ignore the two obvious tracks by walls and find the fainter grass on grass track uphill between them and after 50 yards pass between two swallow holes.
7. Fieldgate in western corner to track, ignoring adjacent squeezers, ignore immediate right, 200 yards, grass track on right just before wall to your left angles away. Metal fieldgate to grassy track uphill which then levels to Stake Fell. On top, pick up fence to left 8. Pick up wall to right. Fieldgate in new wire fence, grass track turns south.
9. Old gateway in ruined wall, grass track across pasture, gateway, 100 yards, fork left at ‘Y’ junction, 50 yards to fieldgate in post and rail section of wire fence about 25 yards from a wall corner to your left. Grass track diagonally across field.
10. At ‘Y’ junction fork left, gently downhill at first.
11. Left to stone track downhill (fingerpost bridleway), fieldgate to track, fieldgate to walled track, fieldgate, skirt spring if necessary.
12. About 20 yards before three-way fingerpost, track on left, fieldgate to field and grass track is near wall to your right, ford, fieldgate, track by wall, fieldgate to walled stone track.
Distance: Eight miles.
General location: Yorkshire Dales.
Right of way: Public and Open Access.
Date walked: October 2011.
Road route: Via Aysgarth.
Car parking: Carpark behind village hall, honesty box.
Refreshments: The George Inn, Thoralby.
Tourist and public transport information: Aysgarth TIC 01969 662910.
Map: Drawn from OS Explorer OL30 Yorkshire Dales northern and central.
Difficulty: Compass walk.
Please observe the Country Code and park sensibly. While every effort is made to provide accurate information, walkers set out at their own risk.
View a map of the Thoralby country walk>>
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