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Stepping stones across the River Ure below Thornton Rust in Wensleydale
Stepping stones across the River Ure below Thornton Rust in Wensleydale

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Route No. 367 - Monday 6 September 2010
Thornton Rust, Knipe Lane, Stepping Stones,
River Ure, Aysgarth Moor circuit - 9km
Wensleydale, Yorkshire Dales . . .

Route map from Ordnance Survey Open Space service.

Map: OS Explorer OL30 Yorkshire Dales Northern & Central areas at 1:25000


Ford over West Beck and the parking area beyond at Thornton Rust
Ford over West Beck and the parking area beyond at Thornton Rust

Heading into Thornton Rust from the car park
Heading into Thornton Rust from the car park

Path across the field joins Knipe Lane
Path across the field joins Knipe Lane

The weather was quite bright and sunny with a stiff breeze moving the white clouds quickly across the sky. From the car park we walked back down the lane to the road and turned left to walk through the village for about 100m to a footpath on the right hand side of the road. The finger post indicates that the path leads to Knipe Lane, and old track that leads down to the A684 next to the River Ure. We followed this path which crossed Knipe Lane at map ref. SD971890. Here the lane is heavily overgrown and our path simply crossed the sunken track and crossed a grass field to join Knipe Lane at map ref. SD971891 where the track is clear and easy to walk.

My mate, Jim, and I used to have a few days away each year for a walking trip in country that's just a bit too far from home for a day walk. It's four years since our last trip but at last we are off again. Albeit for some gentler walks than we used to do. We have booked two nights at a pub in Hawse and today, on the way there, we drove to Thornton Rust in Wensleydale. There is a small rough car park off the road through the village at map ref. SD972888. There is a blue car park sign on the road that directed us up a narrow lane for about 100m to the parking area next to a ford across West Beck.

Turning from the village towards Knipe Lane
Turning from the village towards Knipe Lane

Crossing the overgrown part of Knipe Lane
Crossing the overgrown part of Knipe Lane

Heading for the A684 along Knipe Lane
Heading for the A684 along Knipe Lane

Old stone barn off Knipe Lane
Old stone barn off Knipe Lane

Turning off the A684 towards the stepping stones
Turning off the A684 towards the stepping stones

Stepping stones across the River Ure
Stepping stones across the River Ure

Today the water level was around 400mm below the top of the stones so it was quite easy to cross the river. The stones can easily be completely submerged when the river is high. Once across the river we climbed the bank and crossed the large grass fields to a gate in the far right hand corner next to the embankment of the old railway.

We followed the track between the fields for about 600m to the main road (A684). At the main road we turned left to walk along the road for about 50m to a path on the right hand side leading down to the River Ure. At this point there are some stepping stones across the river. The stones are firmly fixed to the river bed.

Looking back up Knipe Lane
Looking back up Knipe Lane

Stepping stones across the River Ure
Stepping stones across the River Ure

Belgian Blue bull with his herd by the path
Belgian Blue bull with his herd by the path

Path between the old railway and the riverside fields
Path between the old railway and the riverside fields

Old sycamore tree wrapped around a rocky outcrop
Old sycamore tree wrapped around a rocky outcrop

Path beside the River Ure
Path beside the River Ure

Old stone barn near the path
Old stone barn near the path

Footbridge over the River Ure
Footbridge over the River Ure

We crossed the river on the footbridge which led us into a small parking area between the river and the A684. We turned right to walk along the busy main road for about 200m to a farm access road on the left to Seata Farm.

We went through the gate in the corner of the field and followed the path between the railway and the river for around 2.5km to a footbridge over the river at map ref. SD995889.

Path between the old railway and the riverside fields
Path between the old railway and the riverside fields

Path beside the River Ure
Path beside the River Ure

Gate to the footbridge over the R. Ure
Gate to the footbridge over the River Ure

A walk along the A684
A walk along the A684

Looking across Wensleydale from the path to Setana quarry nature reserve
Looking across Wensleydale from the path to Seata quarry nature reserve

Setana quarry nature reserve
Seata quarry nature reserve managed by the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust

Setana quarry nature reserve
Seata quarry nature reserve

Stone barn at our turn off the road
Stone barn at our turn off the road

After wards we continued to a walled grassy track at map ref. SD992884. We walked along the track turning first sharp left and after 200m, sharp right to reach a road at map ref. SD994881. At the road we turned left to walk along the road for 200m where we turned right off the road onto a stony track up past a stone barn on the right of the track.

At the start of the Seata Farm access road we turned onto a footpath on the left which led us up the hillside to a nature reserve in Seata Quarry managed by the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust. The path continued through the quarry and we found a sheltered spot below a small crag with a view up Wensleydale to stop for our lunch.

Walled track up to the road from the quarry
Walled track up to the road from the quarry

The track up towards the moor top
The track up towards the moor top

New section of dry stone wall
New section of dry stone wall by the track

The track up towards the moor top
The track up towards the moor top

We turned right off the track to follow the footpath across the rough pasture to Gill Beck. At the beck the path crosses a steep little valley.

After 250m the track turned sharp right and continued to climb steadily towards the moor top. After 1.3km a footpath, marked by a finger post on either side of the track, crossed the track.

Group of tupps next to the track
Group of tupps next to the track

Steep little valley of Gill Beck
Steep little valley of Gill Beck

About to cross the steep little valley of Gill Beck
About to cross the steep little valley of Gill Beck

Gated stile on the path to Thornton Rust
Gated stile on the path to Thornton Rust

The path to Thornton Rust
The path to Thornton Rust

We turned right onto the track and followed it across the ford over West Beck back to our car in the little car park at Thornton Rust. After our walk we drove on to Hawse to the pub where had booked our rooms. We were looking forward to a couple more days of interesting walking.

Beyond Gill Beck the path continues across the fields for around 1.5km to a walled track just above Thornton Rust at map ref. SD972887.

Gated stile on the path to Thornton Rust
Gated stile on the path to Thornton Rust

A donkey by the ford at the car park
A donkey by the ford at the car park

Returning to the car park by the ford over West Beck at Thornton Rust
Returning to the car park by the ford over West Beck at Thornton Rust

Background Notes:
This walk is a circular route of 9km about five and a half miles from the village of Thornton Rust in Wensleydale. There is a funny little car park off the village street up an unmade stony track just before the track reaches a ford over West Beck. From the village our route takes us down towards the River Ure along a narrow walled track called Knipe Lane and across the main road along the valley to the river bank and the stepping stones across the river Ure. If the river is high the stones will be submerged so this is definitely a walk for a dry spell. A good rule of thumb is, 'if the stepping stones are wet don't try to use them'. Once across the river the walk follows the river bank on a path across the fields alongside the bed of the disused Wensleydale railway. This railway used to link the East coast main line at Northallerton with the Settle to Carlisle railway at Garsdale. Nowadays only the part from Leeming Bar to Redmire is open to passengers as a tourist attraction. After almost 3km from the stepping stones we reach a footbridge over the River near Seata Farm. We cross the river and follow a path up the steep valley side across the fields past the farm and through a disused quarry on the hillside. This quarry is the Seata Quarry nature reserve managed by the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust and there are some lovely views across Wensleydale from the site and all manner of lime loving wild flowers here in the spring. Above the quarry we continue to climb up towards the moor along an ancient track called Flout Moor Lane. Before we turn off this lane it's worth making a little diversion if you're at all interested in ancient earthworks. In a field off the lane there is a neolithic henge called Castle Dykes. It consists of an earth bank and ditch enclosing a circular area 70 or 80 meters in diameter. The top of the bank to the bottom of the ditch is about 2m. There has been no serious investigation of the site so no-one really knows what it was used for, but it clearly implies a very prosperous society living here in neolithic times between 4000 & 5000 years ago, that had enough spare resources to build an earthwork on this scale with stone work at the entrance and inside. From Flout Moor Lane we follow a footpath across the steep sided little valley of Gill Beck and across the fields to the ford over West Beck and the car park on the edge of Thornton Rust at the end of our walk.

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