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We met some local traffic whilst driving down Wensleydale from Hawse to Masham
We met some local traffic whilst driving down Wensleydale from Hawse to Masham

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Route No. 369 - Wednesday 8 September 2010

369a - Visit to Snaizeholme Red Squirrel Reserve,
Widdale, Hawse & . . .
369b - Masham, River Ure,
Marfield Nature reserve circuit - 4km
Wensleydale, Yorkshire Dales . . .

Snaizeholme Route map from Ordnance Survey Open Space service.
Masham Route map from Ordnance Survey Open Space service.

Snaizeholme Map: OS Explorer OL2 Yorkshire Dales Southern & Western areas at 1:25000
Masham Map: OS Explorer 302 Northallerton & Thirsk at 1:25000


Route 369a - Visit to Snaizeholme Red Squirrel Reserve, Widdale, Hawse . . .

Looking down the valley of Snaizeholme Beck from the Red Squirrel Trail
Looking down the valley of Snaizeholme Beck from the Red Squirrel Trail

Follow the red arrows for the Red Squirrel Trail
Follow the red arrows for the Red Squirrel Trail

Path down the hillside at Mirk Pot Farm
Path down the hillside at Mirk Pot Farm

Following the Red Sqirrel Trail
Following the Red Squirrel Trail

From there the trail continues along the edge of the forest for almost a kilometer and then climbs up to a large block of conifer plantation on the Eastern side of Snaizeholme Fell. This is the main red squirrel reserve. I have to admit that we did not see any of them. On the way back we passed two ladies walking their dogs. They were staying in a holiday cottage locally and said they had just seen several red squirrels run across their path and disappear into the trees. Oh well! Better luck next time. This little walk was less than 3km and took us a little over an hour including a sit on the bench at the squirrel feeding station. From Mirk Pot Farm we drove back down Wensleydale towards Masham. On the way we had to wait in a queue of traffic for a large flock of sheep being driven along the road by a young man on a quad bike and several collies. It was very interesting to watch and nobody seemed to mind waiting. It was quite a pleasant few minutes, watching all those sheep pass by.

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. On Monday we did a walk from Thornton Rust, and yesterday we drove to the West coast to an RSPB reserve called Leighton Moss near the village of Silverdale for our walk. Today we drove to the red squirrel Snaizholme reserve at Mirk Pot Farm, Widdale, Southwest of Hawse. We parked in a small gravel lay-by opposite the farm access road at map ref. SD827870. From there we walked down the access road and followed the red arrow signs for the 'red squirrel trail'. This led us down the hillside to the bottom edge of the woodland and then along the edge of the woods to a viewing point with a bench to observe a feeder attached to a tree a few metres into the forest.

A nesting box (artificial dray) and feeder on a tree by the path
A squirrel nesting box (artificial dray) and feeder on a tree by the path

Looking down the valley of Snaizeholme Beck from the Red Squirrel Trail
Snaizeholme Beck valley from the Red Squirrel Trail

Red squirrel view point at a feeding station
Red squirrel view point at a feeding station on the red squirrel trail

 

Route 369b - Masham, River Ure, Marfield Nature reserve circuit - 4km Wensleydale, Yorkshire Dales . . .

Road bridge (A6108) over the River Ure at Masham
Road bridge (A6108) over the River Ure at Masham

Heading upstream by the River Ure
Heading upstream by the River Ure

Thistle in full bloom
Thistle in full bloom by the path

From the car park we walked along the river bank to the road bridge over the river. Here we crossed the road and continued along the river bank heading upstream for about 1.3km. Ahead of us here was a decorated garden summer house which I think is known locally as 'The Gin Palace'.

In Masham we parked in a little riverside car park next to the sports field at map ref. SE226810. There is an honesty box at the entrance with a recommended fee of 50p. This compares very favourably with our local 'pay & display' charges at home.

Bridge over the beck from the Marfield reserve as it joins the Ure
Bridge over the beck from the Marfield reserve as it joins the Ure

Fly fishing in the River Ure
Fly fishing in the River Ure

Heading upstream by the River Ure
Heading upstream by the River Ure

"The Gin Palace" by the River Ure
"The Gin Palace" by the River Ure

Geese overhead at Marfield reserve
Geese overhead at the Marfield reserve

We followed this path across the fields around the outside of the Marfield Nature Reserve to map ref. SE218825. Here we turned right to follow a wide gravel track into the reserve. We followed the path through the reserve between the lakes formed by the flooded gravel pits.

Just before this summer house the path veered away from the river to go around the top edge of some woodland. We continued straight up the hill to join another footpath at the top of the slope.

Following the path outside the Marfield reserve
Following the path outside the Marfield reserve

One of the small pools at the Marfield reserve
One of the small pools at the Marfield reserve

One of the small pools at the Marfield reserve
One of the small pools at the Marfield reserve

100's of greylag geese on the large lake
100's of greylag geese on the large lake

Geese overhead at the Marfield reserve
Geese overhead at the Marfield reserve

The as if by a secret signal the geese began to leave the lake on the Northwestern shore and walk up into the grassland and to graze. What seemed like an organised queues of several hundred geese swam to the same point on the lake and walked up the field to fan out and start grazing.

The lakes had hundreds of mainly greylag geese on them with a few Canada geese, a few swans and some ducks, water hens and coots. We sat on a bench at the lake side to watch the various water fowl for a while. There is a hide to the Northwest of the reserve but we could see quite well from our bench as formations of geese flew in and out.

One canada goose amongst the greylags on the large lake
One Canada goose amongst the greylags on the large lake

Bulb planter at a house by the reserve
A hen bulb planter at a house by the reserve

The large lake at the Marfield reserve
The large lake at the Marfield reserve

Heading back towards Masham
Heading back towards Masham

A speckled wood butterfly with a damaged wing
A speckled wood butterfly with a damaged wing

Free range hens by the path
Free range hens by the path

From here we crossed the main road and made our way back to the river side car park where we had started. The whole walk had been a little over 4km and it had taken us about one and a half hours including a long stop in the reserve to watch the geese. From Masham we drove home at the end of a very pleasant three days of gentle walking from our pub base in Hawse.

From the reserve we took the path off the access road South of the reserve at map ref. SE220818. Where the path forked we kept nearer to the river and followed the path across the fields to a pedestrian gate at map ref. SE224812. Through the gate the path followed the foot of a row of private gardens to emerge into a parking area below the Black Sheep brewery visitor centre.

A sparrow hawk took off from this dead tree as we approached
A sparrow hawk took off from this dead tree as we approached

Path along the foot of some gardens as we entered Masham
Path along the foot of some gardens as we entered Masham

River Ure by the car park at Masham
River Ure by the car park at Masham

Looking across the sports field to Masham from the riverside car park
Looking across the sports field to Masham from the riverside car park