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View towards Rudding Park from our lunchtime seat with Follifoot on the right
View towards Rudding Park from our lunchtime seat with Follifoot on the right

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Route No. 184 - Saturday 8 July 2006
Spofforth, River Crimple, Follifoot
Spofforth Castle - 8km.
(Between Harrogate & Wetherby) . . .

Map: OS Explorer 289 Leeds at 1:25000
Route Map on 'Landranger' base from OS Open Space service


Spofforth village hall
Spofforth village hall

We set off northwards through the village to Mill Farm, map ref. SE 362514 where we took the footpath to the right over a footbridge crossing the River Crimple. Over the bridge we turned left to follow the path alongside the river heading upstream.

This morning we met a group of friends at Spofforth village hall at 11am (map ref. SE 362510). Geoff, who lives in Wetherby was going to lead the route today. It's a shorter route to give us plenty of time for one of Geoff's legendary barbeques after the walk, and to help decrepit members of the group like me.

Footbridge over the River Crimple
Footbridge over the River Crimple

The River Crimple
The River Crimple

These outcrops continue around the hillside to become Plumpton Rocks - a well known local beauty spot (small admission charge). It was avery pleasant 2km with the trees along the river bank to our left and the rock formations over to our right and as we neared the road we saw a buzzard soaring over the trees towards Plumpton Rocks.

The ICI research centre was in Harrogate some way upstream and they developed a man made fibre in the 1950's which was named after the river - "Crimplene". We continued alongside the river for about 2km to a road at map ref. SE 349530. Away to our right were a series of large outcrops of Millstone Grit eroded into odd shapes.

Outcrops of Millstone Grit
Outcrops of Millstone Grit

Path by the River Crimple (or Crimple Beck)
Path by the River Crimple (or Crimple Beck)

Outcrop of Millstone Grit
Path by the River Crimple (or Crimple Beck) over grown with giant hog weed
Path by the River Crimple (or Crimple Beck) over grown with giant hog weed

Outcrop of Millstone Grit
Pinfold on the road into Follifoot village
Pinfold on the road into Follifoot village

Giant Hogweed looming over us on the path by the river Crimple
Giant Hogweed looming over us on the path by the river Crimple

We turned left down the village street passing the old village stocks on our left. A swallow zoomed just over our heads and into the bus shelter , so I had to look and sure enough there was a nest in the rafters.

There were two other small groups of walkers at the road bridge having a break but we kept going and soon had the route to ourselves again. We turned left on to the road at the bridge and walked along the road for about a kilometer to Rudding Gate, an ornate gateway into Rudding Park from the main Street in Follifoot village.

The main street in Follifoot
The main street in Follifoot

Just beyond the bus stop there was a footpath signed to "Spofforth Hags" and we turned right off the village street to follow this path.

Rudding Gate in Follifoot
Rudding Gate in Follifoot

The old stocks in Follifoot
The old stocks in Follifoot
Swallows nest in the rafters of the bus shelter
Swallows nest in the rafters of the bus shelter
Footpath out of Follifoot
Footpath out of Follifoot

A few hundred metres out of Follifoot we came to a wooden bench by a wall and stopped for our lunch break. It was very pleasant in the sunshine with a view over Rudding Park to the north and Follifoot to our right.

Lunch break on a seat at map ref. SE 339520
Lunch break on a seat at map ref. SE 339520

Ladybird larva  that came to see us at lunch time
Ladybird larva that came to see us at lunch time

After lunch we continued across the disused railway to a road at map ref. SE 341512. It's only a minor road but it was quite busy with fast moving traffic. We turned left to walk along the road for about 300m. Here we turned right off the road on to a farm track which we followed for about 400m to map ref. SE 344509.

Here we turned off the farm track on to a bridleway along the edge of a wood. The bridleway soon brought us to the edge of the golf course and we continued round the golf course for almost a kilometer until we reached the disused railway again.

This year's fresh green pine cones on a Scots Pine
This year's fresh green pine cones on a Scots Pine

Returning by the golf course to Spofforth Castle
Returning by the golf course towards Spofforth Castle

The path crosses under a viaduct arch of the railway. There is only a short length of viaduct left and it finishes abruptly in someone's back garden. Once under the viaduct we were at Spofforth Castle on our left. We turned off the path to walk through the castle grounds. The original castle dated from shortly after the Norman invasion and it has been updated several times since then.

After a look round the castle we returned to our cars to drive back to Wetherby for a barbeque at Geoff's house. The whole walking route was about 8km and it had taken us around two and a half hours to walk including our lunch break. A very pleasant route, thanks Geoff. It was just right for me at this stage of my recouperation.

Spofforth Castle
Spofforth Castle

Viaduct on the disused railway, which now ends in a private garden
Viaduct on the disused railway, which now ends in a private garden

Spofforth Castle
Spofforth Castle

Spofforth Castle
Spofforth Castle
Spofforth Castle
Spofforth Castle

Background Notes:
This walk is a circular route of 8km, about 5 miles from Spofforth between Wetherby and Harrogate. It's a low level walk staying out of harms way this wintry weekend across a generally flat farmland area but with some quite pretty features along the way. We leave the village heading northwest along the bank of the River Crimple. In the fields to the right there are a series of large gritstone rock outcrops. This hard rock was left as the ice retreated at the end of the last ice age and further wind erosion has occured since then resulting in these striking rock formations. Just a few hundred metres east of our route is a pleasure garden from the mid-1700's called Plumpton Rocks where more of these rocks have been incorporated into a very pretty landscape with a lake. Further upstream on the outskirts of Harrogate there used to be the ICI Research Department where the man-made fibre called Crimplene was developed. The killjoys at Wikipedia say that it's not named after the river but is an abbreviation of the words Crimped Tereylene, but I don't believe a word of it - it's got to be the river! We follow the road into the village of Follifoot. As you enter the village there is a circular walled enclosure with a small gate in it at the side of the road. This is the village pinfold where in the past stray livestock would have been held until claimed by the owner who would have to pay a small fee for their care. The village custodian of the pinfold was called 'The Pinder', giving rise to the English surname. These structures are quite common, every village had one and many still survive. We turn down the village street opposite the gates of Rudding Park. We then make our way around the edge of the village and across the fields heading south to cross the disused Wetherby to Harrogate railway that was one of the first lines in Yorkshire to be closed under the Beeching axe at the beginning of 1964. From Spofforth this disused line is now a footpath and cycleway all the way into Wetherby. We continue across a minor road and follow a path around Spofforth Golf Course to Spofforth Castle. Entry to the grounds of the castle is free. There are extensive remains but apparently they are just the west range of a much larger structure. There was originally a manor house here dating from the Norman conquest, that was the seat of the Percy family. They were permitted to fortify it around 1300. The resulting castle figured in the wars of the Roses when the Percys supported the House of Lancaster and the castle was destroyed following the defeat of the Lancastrians at the battle of Towton. The castle was restored about 100 years later but again fell into ruins during the English Civil War. It's well worth exploring and there are information boards on the site. From the castle the path leads out directly to the main street through Spofforth and the end of our walk.

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