GEORGE WILKINSON enjoys a hearty Hovingham walk from the village bakery but fails to stray down Lovers’ Walk

HOVINGHAM’S Bakery and Spa Tearoom made us ace hot sandwiches that we guzzled in the village hall car park. Bang opposite was the full-frontal view of the east facade of Hovingham Hall, so put a donation in the honesty box.

The Ebor Way took us south, York way. The track ran straight, clean and open over the fields but the air erased the views. A tractor pulled a trailer load of pheasant beaters out of the woods, the morning’s shooting done.

South Wood is south of Hovingham Hall and on the North Ridge of the Howardian Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. These are low hills and trees grow well and have for a long time; there were oak, birch, chestnut and coppiced hazel in the first hundred yards. The woods were warm, damp and very still and thousands of fleshy half-inch high and probably doomed December seedlings had sprouted.

We sat for a while in a valley by a grand oak, on a log seat bearing a plaque noting the 25th anniversary of the modern Howardian Hills designation. Then we took the valley to find the Centenary Way and joined it at a little arched stone and brick bridge. This long-distance footpath celebrates the creation of modern local government and was re-launched last year, the path not the government.

Back to the tracks, which are complicated with multi-junctions; indeed my navigator uttered a statement that ended with the words ‘lost in the woods’.

We dinked round little Hollin Hill and slurped into the Hollin Hill Bogs, the clue was in the name, but we had gaiters fastened round out boots and much of the mud was folded in with fallen leaves which was better than pure mud. These bogs are rare and include ‘pristine fen alder carr’, some of the best in North Yorkshire and a flock of finches twittered into the tops of the alders.

After open ground and back lanes, we found ourselves in the wettest valley yet, very glad of the gaiters and happy in the half-light of evening and the tall trees of Temple Bank Wood where a raptor screeched.

Nearby is a track named Lovers’ Walk that leads to a spot named Africa which sounds hot stuff but is out of bounds. So, we took the permissive path through Hovingham Park, over a three-arched bridge, with Hovingham Hall quite dark.



When in doubt look at the map. Check your position at each point. Keep straight on unless otherwise directed (wm = waymark, fp = fingerpost).

1. Left from village hall car park. On bend, cross road to pavement uphill then verge 100 yards.

2. Track (fp Ebor Way) on left.

3. Into wood, 200 yards, cross track (wm post), 50 yards, track on left downhill (fp Ebor Way). Ignore all side turns, some waymarked posts.

4. Second track on left on a right-hand bend downhill, (wm post on right of track/Centenary Way). Fieldgate (wm) into field with log seat and oak, and immediately left on grassy track along valley bottom, over stone bridge on right, path across field (fp Centenary Way), stile/fieldgate into wood (wm), path uphill.

5. At junction at top, track on right (fp Hollin Hill), downhill, pass old gate (wm), round the hill, fieldgate (wm), 50 yards, left-hand bend (wm post), fieldgate, track bridges beck, 100 yards.

6. Gateway into field and right, gates to track, gates. Bridge by pond and immediately right (three-way finger-post), two gates and bridge (wms), uphill on track, pass farm. Join track (wm post), pass farm.

7. Right to road, 100 yards, track on left (fp).

8. Right to private road (fp), ignore a left turn, downhill, track.

9. Bridge and immediately snickelgate (fp Hovingham 1½ miles) on right to streamside path, gateway, footbridge (wm), stile into wood, grass track, gate (wm), 50 yards.

10. Cross road, stile and right (wm) across parkland, right over stone bridge, left in park keeping near fence to your right. At trees, stile/gate (wm) and gate. Left to road into village.


Fact file

Distance: Six miles.

Car parking: Hovingham Village Hall.

Right of way: Public and permissive.

Date walked: November 2014.

Tourist information: Malton TIC 01653 600048.

Refreshments: Tea room and two pubs in Hovingham.

Map: OS Explorer 300 Howardian Hills and Malton.

Terrain: Low hills.

Difficulty: Moderate.

Please observe the Country Code and park sensibly. While every effort is made to provide accurate information, walkers set out at their own risk.