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Country walk at Hawnby
GEORGE WILKINSON enjoys the pleasures of spring at Hawnby.
Hawnby is a village of two halves, top and bottom.
We parked at the bottom, in the village hall car park, paid money into the honesty box and, passing the chance of tea shop titbits, climbed the steep road to the top where, warmed up and ready to go, neither beer nor food lured us into the hotel.
The ash hadn’t broken bud but sycamore hung with flowers, goldfinches brightened hedges, and the lambs were out, but not much gambolling and some wore waterproof coats, as did we.
A spring named Broach Well feeds down to Hawnby Lodge.
Hawnby Hills are delightful, shapely, part covered in sheep pasture, part in conifers and part in broad-leaved woodland and threaded with streams that join to make the River Rye.
This route, the first half, twists round and among the hills rather than over them, and catches some of the nice woods, with springs, bluebells and bird boxes.
In 2005 a devastating flash flood came down here removing the bridges used by walkers. One of the replacements is a lovely looking arch of very many pieces of wood, a wide and shallow curve not out of place over a lily pond, here over the gushing River Rye.
It carried us to Half Moon Plantation, a full profile of Hawnby Hill and a climb to Mount Pleasant, less pleasant because the farm is messy.
Then the gem of the walk.
Arden Hall is described by Sir Nikolaus Pevsner as a “perfect Queen Anne house in a perfectly sheltered and secluded position”. There’s a Nuns’ Well nearby, they came 850 years ago, but soon the monks at Byland complained about “the rough words of their men”, the nuns’ men.
From seclusion led the climb, a half mile of track quite steep but steady.
Five mountain bikers overtook but then dismounted one by one to push. Near the top, at an old quarry face, look down into Thorodale, there’s a lake.
The second stretch was quite different, nearly two miles on the high flat, on limestone grasslands bordering moor, with long views east to the moors and headlands, a huge sky and little lambs at a thousand foot.
A new sign read ‘Beware Adders’. High Buildings are barns that sported a big pile of dung and, on the descent to Hawnby, Sunny Bank didn’t live up to its name. A good walk though.
When in doubt look at the map. Check your position at each point. Keep straight on unless otherwise directed.
1. Right to road from car park behind village hall, pass tea room, left at junction, uphill no pavement. At top left to road, pass hotel.
2. Opposite Manor Farm, fieldgate (sign) on right to track.
3. Leave track as it swings right uphill, gate in fieldgate to path by trees (waymark post), fieldgate (waymark), 100 yards, right (waymark on mini post) to track uphill.
4. After cottage, angle 11 o’clock downhill (waymark post), through dip, fieldgate into wood, 50 yards, straight on at junction, 100 yards, fork left to path. Step-stream. Generally, through this wood do not go down or up much.
5. Before fieldgate to field, path (waymark) on left downhill through wood, arched footbridge, left uphill, gate (waymark), path swings right (waymark) ,footbridge (waymark) and right to fieldgate (waymark) into wood and immediately right, footbridge, track turns uphill, by fence, fieldgate into field, by fence uphill.
6. Stile/fieldgate (waymark), left on track, through farmyard, gate/ fieldgate (waymark) out, track downhill, 200 yards.
7. Fieldgate on right into field and by fence to your left.
8. Fieldgate into wood and left to track downhill (waymark post), through yard, left after cottages, right up drive from Arden Hall.
9. Right to green lane (Kepwick 3¼), steep uphill. Becomes track.
10. Near top, pass old quarry on left, stone track on left on bend (waymark post), becomes grass track across field, fieldgate in dip (waymark), track across field corner, then by old/decrepit wall and fence to your left.
11. Gate/fieldgate on left just before trees, by fence, gateway (waymark), pass barns or skirt if muddy, pair of gates (waymark), track, downhill, fieldgate (waymark).
12. Before barn, left (fingerpost) and across grass, 50 yards, fieldgate (waymark), downhill by trees, fieldgate and left to track (signed other way), fieldgate/cattlegrid, cattlegrid over stream and immediately stile on left (waymark), path between stream and wire fence, gate (waymark), left to road into Hawnby.
Distance: Seven miles.
General location: Hawnby Hills.
Right of way: Public.
Date walked: April 2012.
Road route: Via Helmsley, Stokesley, or Osmotherley.
Car parking: Behind Village Hall (honesty box) or roadside in Hawnby.
Refreshments: The Inn at Hawnby and the Hawnby Tea Room.
Tourist and public transport information: Helmsley TIC 01439 770173.
Map: Drawn from OS Explorer OL26 North York Moors western.
Difficulty: Quite intricate and energetic.
Please observe the Country Code and park sensibly. While every effort is made to provide accurate information, walkers set out at their own risk.