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Beningbrough Hall
Beningbrough Hall

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Route No. 355 - Wednesday 4 August 2010
Beningbrough, River Ouse, Newton-upon-Ouse,
Beningbrough Hall circuit - 8km
Vale of York . . .

Route map from Ordnance Survey Open Space service.

Map: OS Explorer 290 York at 1:25000


Looking across the River Ouse from beningbrough to the moor Monkton Warer abstraction works
Looking across the River Ouse from Beningbrough to the Moor Monkton water abstraction works

A common blue damsel fly
A common blue damsel fly

River cruisers moored on the Ouse
River cruisers moored on the Ouse

We started walking at about 2.15pm heading upstream following the public footpath along the river bank. Across the river from Beningbrough we could see the Moor Monkton water abstraction works. This large pumping station takes water from the river via a small holding reservoir to pump it almost 80km to Eccup reservoir at Leeds. I believe there is also a smaller pipeline which supplies raw water to the water treatment works at Huby near Easingwold.

Today my friend, Jim, and I had to abandon our planned walk due to our family commitments and instead we did a short riverside walk in the afternoon. The weather was very mixed with shower clouds and sunny spells, but we were lucky enough to avoid the rain. We drove a few miles from home to the hamlet of Beningbrough on the River Ouse. We parked on a wide grass verge next to a farm on the riverside at map ref. SE529577.

Moor Monkton water abstraction works
Moor Monkton water abstraction works

Cattle coming down for a drink from the Ouse
Cattle coming down for a drink from the Ouse

Path along the boundary of Beningbrough park
Path along the boundary of Beningbrough park

Our path along the river bank
Our path along the river bank

Berries of Lords & Ladies or Cuckoo Pint
Berries of Lords & Ladies or Cuckoo Pint

There is a large information board on the river bank here explaining the plight of the tansy beetle. The tansy beetle relies entirely on the tansy plant as its sole food source. Surprisingly they are ill equipped to find new plants if their home clump dies, so no wonder they are endangered. The colonies on the bank of the River Ouse in the York area are the only remaining ones in Britain. It is a large (about 1cm long) iridescent green beetle, but we didn't spot any of them.

We continued along the river bank for about 1km to the corner of the parkland surrounding Beningbrough Hall. There was a large herd of Aberdeen Angus cattle grazing in the park. We followed the path between the park and the river to the point opposite Moor Monkton where the River Nidd joins the River Ouse.

A lovely ash tree by the path
A lovely ash tree by the path

A tansy plant with flower detail inset
A tansy plant with flower detail inset

The confluence of the River Nidd and the River Ouse on the edge of the grounds
The confluence of the River Nidd and the River Ouse on the edge of the grounds of Beningbrough Hall

The old Beningbrough Hall water tower
The old Beningbrough Hall water tower

Beningbrough Hall had a deep artesian well and I assume that the water stored in the water tower was used to balance out the irregular demand for water used in the hall, with the steady flow of water from the artesian well.

We continued to follow the path along the river bank, past the old brick water tower at map ref. SE513586.

The path along the river bank
The path along the river bank

Bracket fungus on an oak tree
Bracket fungus on an oak tree

Looking downstream along the Ouse from the edge of Newton-on-Ouse
Looking downstream along the Ouse from the edge of Newton-on-Ouse

Crossing the riverside gardens in Newton-on-Ouse
Crossing the riverside gardens in Newton-on-Ouse

Japanese water balsam infests the river bank
Japanese water balsam infests the river bank

Speckled Wood butterfly
Speckled Wood butterfly

A gatekeeper butterfly seen here 21 August
A gatekeeper butterfly - seen here 21 August
Compare with meadow brown seen on route 358

The river bank is overgrown with Japanese water balsam which grows to a height of over 2m. and beyond the gardens the path was waterlogged and completely over grown. We sloshed through the mud and pushed through the water balsam which was about half a metre taller than me.

About 600m further on the path forked. The right hand fork goes into the village of Newton-on-Ouse at the entrance to Beningbrough Hall. We took the left hand fork which continues along the river bank. The path crossed the bottom of the gardens of the houses and the pub on the main street in Newton-on-Ouse.

Newton-on-Ouse from the riverside path
Newton-on-Ouse from the riverside path

The overgrown riverside path
The overgrown riverside path

Small tortoiseshell butterfly
Small tortoiseshell butterfly

A wall brown butterfly - seen here 21 August
A wall brown butterfly - seen here 21 August

Entering Newton-on-Ouse
Entering Newton-on-Ouse

The road approaching Beningbrough Hall is lined with cherry trees and some of them were full of very palatable fruit. Beningbrough Hall is a National Trust property and we walked along the permissive path on the drive through the park land.

We emerged onto the road at the edge of Newton-on-Ouse at map ref. SE510601. At the road we turned right to walk along the road through Newton-on-Ouse.

The drive into Beningbrough park
The drive into Beningbrough park

Dying ash tree in the park
Dying ash tree in the park

Here we had a coffee at one of the outside tables. After our coffee we continued to the gatehouse at the edge of the park at map ref. SE524586.

As we neared the edge of the park we turned right to visit the Beningbrough Hall farm shop.

Beningbrough Hall
Beningbrough Hall

Toggenberg goats by the farm shop
Toggenberg goats by the farm shop

The Beningbrough Hall Farm Shop
The Beningbrough Hall Farm Shop

Aberdeen Angus bull grazing by the farm shop
Aberdeen Angus bull grazing by the farm shop

Overgrown stile at the concrete parking area
Overgrown stile at the concrete parking area

There was no clear path through the barley but the path goes across the field to the gate in the southeast corner of the field. This is not exactly where the path is shown on my Explorer map but as we approached the corner of the field there was a path through the barley.

At the road junction where the drive joins the road there is a large concrete area used for parking by fishermen and walkers and there is a clear fenced track heading south west to the river. Our path is directly from the concrete parking area over a very overgrown stile into a barley field.

Gate house at the end of the drive
Gate house at the end of the drive

Path across the barley fields
Path across the barley fields

Footbridge across a small watercourse
Footbridge across a small watercourse

There were free range hens scratching and pecking their way around the field as we crossed to rejoin the path along the river bank at map ref. SE527577. At the river bank we turned left to retrace our steps for about 250m back to our car. The whole walk had been about 8km and it had taken us almost 3 hours to walk including our coffee stop.

Through the gate the path continued through the next field of barley for about 400m to a little grassy valley with a footbridge over a small watercourse. Over the footbridge the path turned right to a stile over a fence. This brought us into a mown field which was apparently used a an extension to the garden of a large house.

River cruiser at Beningbrough village
River cruiser at Beningbrough village

Looking downstream as we arrived back at Beningbrough village
Looking downstream as we arrived back at Beningbrough village

Background Notes:
This walk is a gentle affair. It's the kind of walk you could do over the Chritmas period with the family to get some fresh air away from the tele and all that food, and it's close to York. It's an 8km, that's 5 mile, circuit from the tiny village of Beningbrough by the River Ouse. From the village we follow the path upstream along the riverbank. On the otherside of the river you can see the Moor Monkton Water abstraction works with its large pump house and stilling pond. River water is pumped from here to Eccup reservoir on the edge of Leeds, and the water treatment works there. Water is also pumped from here to the water treatment works at Huby to supply Easingwold. We continue along the riverbank for about 1.5km around the edge of the parkland surrounding Beningbrough Hall to the confluence of the River Ouse and the River Nidd. As you look across the wide expanse of water here there is an information board on the riverbank all about the Tansy beetle. The beetle is named after its only food plant, the Tansy which grows in clumps along the riverbank. It's up to 1m tall with yellow flowers but dies back completely in winter and the river from here down to Selby is the only place left where this very attractive large metallic green beetle still survives. There's a project at Askham Bryan College to set up a breeding colony of these beetles to aid their survival. You're most likely to see the beetles in April and May on the leaves of the Tansy plant. They hibernate underground all through the winter. We continue along the river bank around the Beningbrough Hall parkland to a tall brick tower and some steps down to the river's edge. The tower is now disused but it's a water tower that used to serve Benningbrough Hall. There used to be a boathouse a little further up river and the steps by the water tower provided access to the boat for people from the hall to go on a river cruise. Our walk continues up river past Newton-on-Ouse where the path is sandwiched between the back gardens and the river, but there is one advantage - there's direct access from the riverside path to the beer garden of the pub in the village if you fancy some refreshments. The riverside path leads to the road at the northern end of the village and we then follow the road back through Newton-on-Ouse to the gates of Benningbrough Hall. The gatehouse here is in two parts, one eitherside of the drive joined by an arch over the drive. The chimney from the gatekeeper's house is set on top of the arch. Apparently the living quarters are on one side of the drive and the bedroom on the other side so the gatekeeper had to cross the road in all weathers to go to bed. We follow the drive through the parkland which is grazed by herds of black Aberdeen Angus cattle. The hall and parkland have been owned by the National Trust sice 1958. The red brick Georgian hall was built in 1716 for John Bourchier, a local land owner. The hall is open to the public and houses a collection of 18th century paintings on loan from the National Gallery. We continue through the grounds past the farm shop where you can get Aberdeen Angus beef from the estate. At the edge of the parkland we cross a concreted parking area and follow a path across the fields back to the river bank and retrace our steps for a couple of hundred metres into Beningbrough village and the end of this week's walk.

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