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Wednesday 24 January 2007
Fearby to Masham to Marfield Nature reserve
to Fearby - 11km
Lower Wensleydale, Yorkshire Dales

Map: OS Explorer 302 Northallerton & Thirsk at 1:25000
Route Map on 'Landranger' base from OS Open Space service
Open this route in Google Earth


The Black Swan at Fearby
www.blackswan-masham.co.uk
The Black Swan at Fearby

I know the landlord there and he had asked me to walkout a route that visitors to his caravan site could use to go to Masham. We set off down the side of the pub to walk to the bottom of the caravan field. Here we turned left to follow the fence to the corner of the field. We crossed the stile in the corner and followed the public footpath across a series of fields to a country lane at map ref. SE 201809.

One of the many stiles enroute for Masham
One of the many stiles en-route for Masham

Today I drove with a friend of mine to the village of Fearby near Masham and parked at the Black Swan pub, map ref. SE 191808.

A muddy gateway on the way to Masham
A muddy gateway on the way to Masham

One of the many stiles enroute for Masham
One of the many stiles en-route for Masham

As we approached the town the path across the fields became a track between hedges and then a tarmac access road to an agricultural depot before we reached some housing on the edge of the town at Westholme Road, at map ref. SE 220808.

We turned right to walk about 200m down the lane to a sharp right hand bend. On the crown of the bend we followed the finger post that indicated the "Ripon Rowel" route heading across the fields to Masham.

Heading for another stile enroute for Masham
Heading for another stile en-route for Masham

The walk to Masham is all across farm land
The walk to Masham is all across farm land

One of the many stiles en-route for Masham
One of the many stiles en-route for Masham

We stopped at a little cafe in the market square for a coffee and a bacon roll before setting off again on the road toward Ripon. About 300m from the market square at map ref. SE 224810 we turned left off the road up a little lane to the back of the Black Sheep brewery.

We turned right to walk along the road to the back of Theakston's Brewery where we turned left to continue along the Ripon Rowel route down an alley and through the streets to the market square at map ref. SE 225807.

The walk to Masham is all across farm land
The walk to Masham is all across farm land

One of the many stiles enroute for Masham
One of the many stiles en-route for Masham

We turned left to walk along the unmade road to its junction with the A6108 at map ref. SE 213822. We crossed the main road and took the farm track opposite and to the right, passed Mile House Farm to Low Spelder Banks at map ref. SE 207817. From there we followed the public footpath across the fields to the edge of Fearby.


We turned right behind the brewery to follow a footpath between the brewery and the back of the houses that front onto the Ripon road. (Map ref. SE 224811) We followed this path across the fields to the entrance to the Marfield gravel pits nature reserve at map ref. SE 221819. We followed the path round the edge of the nature reserve to join an unmade road at map ref. SE 218825.

The walk to Masham is all across farm land
The walk to Masham is all across farm land

Part of Marfields gravel pits nature reserve
Part of Marfields gravel pits nature reserve seen from a wildlife observation hide

Old sunken track approaching Fearby
Old sunken track approaching Fearby

Out in the fields there are two pedestrian gates that would allow people to bypass the first 150m of the sunken track but the route through the pedestrian gates is not shown as a right of way on the map. The sunken track gathers water from the surrounding fields and is very boggy in places. At the end of this track we joined the road and walked through the village back to the Black Swan. The whole route had been about 11 km and had taken us nearly four hours because I was making notes for a guide to the route which the landlord of the pub intends to publish around Easter time.

Just beyond Low Spelder Banks the path crosses a stream where there is no footbridge, just a fairly deep ford. We took a big stride across and only got one foot wet each. The path led us up a rise round the edge of a wood. The path then joined an old sunken track between the fields. The track is clearly used as a pheasant feeding area and the end of it is fenced off. This fence shows a lot of damage from being climbed many times before.

The stump of a 2m diameter tree newly felled. Why?
The stump of a 2m diameter tree newly felled. Why?