George Wilkinson ventures to Grewelthorpe but stays away from the route to Hackfall Woods.
THE ducks of Grewelthorpe have a lovely big pond, but most were huddled from the chill on the green. A local, assuming we were heading for the delights of Hackfall Woods, said the fountain there was working again and added that the Crown Inn did a ‘good dinner’.
Walkers can use the Crown car park, which is kind. But our timing was wrong for the pub and woods, and anyway we had a plan, a failsafe figure-of-eight winter walk.
“Nice wagon,” said my navigator as a Wensleydale Creamery milk tanker churned past. We were in the Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, on Foulgate Nook Lane, which wiggled then took us dead straight for a half a mile, like a drag strip for a tractor.
At the end, it’s a cul-de-sac, a farmer said ‘lovely day’ and that yesterday was ‘horrible’, typically the wind off the moors. We enthused about farm turbines.
A green lane named Wreaks Track took us towards these moors. Birch trees sprout Witches’ Broom. There were more gritstone walls than hedges now and the farms thinned out.
Then there’s a turn on a back lane that’s part of the Ripon Rowel walk where the views are long to the east and were lit by sunshine, but hazy. To the west was flashy fencing.
A few shotguns fired, in the dog end of the pheasant season; now the countryside will be quieter for a while.
All day there were very few birds about, just a couple of geese airborne, a magpie or two and a flurry of mixed small ones including a great tit, and there hadn’t been a flower since the snowdrops of Grewelthorpe, though for colour there were yellow and orange lichens.
The farms are interesting, the fields are intricate, small and old and the pastures are pleasant. Barn fans will appreciate a looming one in black tin sheet, a yellow one, a sleek modern one and an old stone one dated 1799.
We turned to a bridleway with high holly hedges, and here is Low Bramley Grange Farm, that is a farmstead cum mansion imagined new, with a weird southeast façade.
Next was a very pleasant swing over Grewelthorpe moor, that again is pasture and again the views are good with a sighting of the village of Kirkby Malzeard. There was a shower and there should have been a rainbow.
That just left the last leg on Hutts Lane, another dead end and it was almost traffic- free. At the Hutts they grow Himalayan plants; Lime tree Farm was once the site for “groovy, green and serene” music festivals. There is what might be art in the fields and a geodesic dome glints above the treetops.
When in doubt look at the map. Check your position at each point. Keep straight on unless otherwise directed.
1. From Crown Inn, cross road, uphill on pavement passing triangular green and school 150 yards. Right at road junction (The Hutts ¼, Ilton 3½), first left (The Hutts/Bramley – dead-end road sign), fork left (Bramley 1½).
2. On right-hand bend at farm and houses (The Nook), straight on to track downhill, footbridge/ford. Track is metalled road for last 100 yards.
3. Right to road (Ripon Rowel waymark other way).
4. Immediately after roadside farm on right, metalled track on right (signed Low Bramley Grange Farm), becomes track after 100 yards, downhill. Rejoin outward route for 100 yards, concrete entrance to farmyard on left (The Nook, fingerpost Hutts Lane ¾ mile), double gates, pass barn (waymark), fieldgate out of yard (waymark), track through fields, some fieldgates (some waymarks), track peters out to grassy track in last couple of fields and stay near boundary to your right.
5. Stile and fence and right to dead-end road. Near Grewelthorpe, rejoin outward route.
Distance: Six or three miles.
General location: Near Ripon.
Right of way: Public paths and lanes.
Date walked: February 2013.
Road route: Via Ripon.
Car parking: Crown Inn car park and roadside in Grewelthorpe.
Refreshments: Crown Inn Grewelthorpe 01765 658201.
Tourist and public transport information: Ripon TIC 01765 680200.
Map: Drawn from OS Explorer 298 Nidderdale.
Terrain: Undulating slope.
Difficulty: All weather.
Please observe the Country Code and park sensibly. While every effort is made to provide accurate information, walkers set out at their own risk.