VICTORIA ELLIS suggests the perfect walk for Boxing Day to help clear away the post-Christmas cobwebs

This is a walk for Boxing Day, and has the following characteristics - easy strolling, pubs at the start/finish and halfway round, simple navigation whatever the condition of the navigator, a certain sociability, and there will always be the chance of something going on. And, of course, countryside, indeed a river.

Just outside the carpark in Boroughbridge is a blue plaque commemorating Isabella Bird, explorer missionary and author, who was born here in 1831. Perhaps she explored the riverside.

In the centre of town, Helen was building up steam, she being a 1914 Aveling and Porter 8-ton steamroller.

Then we bumped into 'Nancy of Knaresborough', the town crier for the two towns. Nancy's credentials are impeccable, her family cut out the famous House in the Rock at Knaresborough 300 years ago, her history tours sound fun.

On our walk from Boroughbridge, to ward off the chill, we found ourselves in Sheila's Bakery downing a huge pot of tea and toasted tea cakes.

Finally readied in mind and body we set off down the River Ure.

It was cold. Trees and tall hogweed-type plants loomed out of the freezing fog. The river ran high with a fast, central ribbon of foam.

No boats emerged from the Milby Cut, but there were at intervals gnomish fishermen snuggled into the banks. I asked one about the foam and he said it was usual in flood times, and when pressed on his catch admitted an empty net.

Further questioned he said he was after any coarse fish at the moment. Fishermen are not talkative to non-participants; one should not come between them and their river.

The river improved, we could just make out Ellenthorpe Hall. Moorhens swam around busily and ducks took off vigorously.

A family (human) were out and moles had been very active on the floodbanks.

A lovely wall of stone and brick layers and fluted coping stones, with yew above, brought us into the Roman town of Isurium, now Aldborough.

We explored; there is the Ship Inn (which has tables outside), a museum on the Romans (closed for the winter), two giant redwoods (or similar) and a compost heap on one green and on another a maypole, benches and stocks.

A plaque told of a Canadian Second World War bomber that crashed a half a mile away on Studforth Hill.

So with river, the Romans and the rest there is plenty to chat about on the way back.

If you want a longer walk, then I was going to suggest continuing down the Ure for another mile and a half to its confluence with the Swale and then back the same way, though we did not do this and the first stretch of path looked somewhat messy.


When in doubt look at the map. Check your position at each point. Keep straight on unless otherwise directed.

1. From car park, pass Hall Square on right, left along High Street, left at St James Square.

2. Left to Aldborough Road, 200 yards, path on left (gates, signed).

3. Gate and right to riverside path ( 2 stiles).

4. At trees and bend, track on right. Right to road (pavement) and back to Boroughbridge.

Fact file

Distance: Three miles.

Time: Two hours.

General location: Fifteen miles north-west of York.

Start: Boroughbridge.

Right of way: The complete route is along public rights of way.

Date walked: Sunday, December 9, 2001.

Road route: Boroughbridge is half a mile east of the A1.

Car parking: Free car park.

Lavatories: Car park.

Refreshments: Inns and cafs.

Tourist and public transport information: Boroughbridge TIC 01423 323373, closed for winter. Ripon TIC 01765 604625.

Map: Based on OS Explorer 299 Ripon and Boroughbridge.

Terrain: Riverside.

Points of interest: The prehistoric 20-foot high stones called the Devils Arrows are nearby at GR 391 666.

Difficulty: Easy.

Dogs: Suitable.

Weather forecast: Evening Press and recorded forecast 0891 500 418.

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

Click here to view a map of the walk