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Timber sculpture seat by the Ripon Rowel route near Mickley
Timber sculpture seat by the Ripon Rowel route near Mickley

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Route No. 432 - 24/29 August 2011
West Tanfield, River Ure,
North Stainley, Mickley circuit - 13km
Lower Wensleydale . . .

Route map from Ordnance Survey Open Space service.

Map: OS Explorer 298 Nidderdale

Note. My mate,Jim, & I did this walk on 24 August but we did not enjoy the route we had taken out of North Stainley at all. On Monday 29 August I checked out another route from North Stainley which turned out to be much better. The route described here is the walk Jim & I did on 24 August but with the alternative start to the route that I walked on 29 August.


Ripon Rowel route beside the River Ure
Ripon Rowel route beside the River Ure

We set off over the road bridge across the river to join the Ripon Rowel route downstream along the bank of the River Ure. We followed the path along the river side downstream through the Slenningford Mill caravan site.

It was a bright sunny morning and we drove to West Tanfield, about 9km north from the centre of Ripon on the A6108. We parked in the public car park at the village hall, map ref.SE268788.

Weir on the River Ure upstream of Slenningford Mill
Weir on the River Ure upstream of Slenningford Mill

Weir on the River Ure upstream of Slenningford Mill
Weir on the River Ure upstream of Slenningford Mill

Slenningford Mill caravan site
Slenningford Mill caravan site

Poppies by the path
Poppies by the path

About halfway through the village on the main road we turned right into Cock Pit Lane.

We continued along the Ripon Rowel route to North Stainley and followed the road into the village.

A last look at the Ure as we turned for North Stainley
A last look at the Ure as we turned for North Stainley

The path around Slenningford Grange
The path around Slenningford Grange

A pretty pond in North Stainley
A pretty pond in North Stainley

Start of the path at the end of Cock Pit Lane in North Stainley
Start of the path at the end of Cock Pit Lane in North Stainley

Cock Pit Lane turning off the main road
Cock Pit Lane turning off the main road

Where the road ended at map ref. SE285768, we followed the bridleway across the fields heading in a southwesterly direction for about 300m.

We walked along a cul-de-sac called Cock Pit Lane to the west of the main road. We took the right hand fork in the cul-de-sac.

Taking the right hand fork in Cock Pit Lane
Taking the right hand fork in Cock Pit Lane

Looking back to North Stainley from the path across the fields
Looking back to North Stainley from the path across the fields

Waring signs were posted around the gravel workings
Warning signs were posted around the gravel workings

Ancient oak tree in Fiveponds Wood
Ancient oak tree in Fiveponds Wood

The oak tree has a girth of over 7m. and must be at least 400 years old.

Here a gate from the field led onto a good farm access track. We continued in the same direction along this track with pleasant views across the farmland beside the track. After about 500m there were gravel workings on the left of the track screened by an embankment. About 1.5km from the start of our walk the track skirted the edge of a wood and we came across a lovely old oak tree at map ref. SE276761.

The track north from North Stainley between the fields
The track north from North Stainley between the fields

Track along the edge of Fiveponds Wood
Track along the edge of Fiveponds Wood

Ripening blackberries in the hedgerow
Ripening blackberries in the hedgerow

Looking east to the North York Moors from the track
Looking east to the North York Moors from the track

Knapweed in flower by the track
Knapweed in flower by the track

The track led us out to the road at map ref. SE272764.

Just beyond the wood the track bent round to the right to head northwest still following the embankment round the gravel workings on our left.

The track approaching the road near Musterfield
The track approaching the road near Musterfield

Gate from the track onto the road near Musterfield
Gate from the track onto the road near Musterfield farm

The road towards Musterfield farm
The road towards Musterfield farm

Musterfield marker stone at the road junction
Musterfield marker stone at the road junction

Birds nest lined with woven animal hair
Birds nest lined with woven animal hair

We continued along the road for about 1km to a left hand bend at map ref. SE261755. Here we turned off the road on the crown of the bend on to a footpath on the right-hand side of the road.

Here we turned left to walk along the road. After about 650m, and a couple of right-angle bends we passed the Musterfield poultry farm and came to a road junction at map ref. SE269759. There was a stone marker at the junction with a rather worn inscription that just said Musterfield.

Passing Musterfield poultry farm
Passing Musterfield poultry farm

Honeysuckle in the hedgerow
Honeysuckle in the hedgerow

Our turning off the road for the path to Mickley
Our turning off the road for the path to Mickley

Our path across the fields to Mickley
Our path across the fields to Mickley

Making our way through great banks of balsam
Making our way through great banks of balsam

The path close to our turning to cross a little valley
The path close to our turning to cross a little valley

The entrance to the wood is overgrown with huge banks of that invasive alien plant, Indian or Japanese Balsam. There were banks of the stuff all along the way through the wood and round the southern edge of the woods to map ref. SE251759 where we turned right to follow a path that doubled back crossing a little valley. It climbed up to the corner of the wood at map ref. SE253759. From here we took a path across the field heading northeast towards Mickley. Care was needed here to check the field boundaries with the map to be sure we followed the right fence as there are no signs.

We walked along the path across fields to a wood at map ref. SE257757.

Gate into the woods full of balsam
Gate into the woods full of balsam

A huge old ash tree in the woods
A huge old ash tree in the woods

The path through the woods briefly free of balsam
The path through the woods briefly free of balsam

The track heading for Mickley
The track heading for Mickley

Looking back along the main street in Mickley from our lunch stop
Looking back along the main street in Mickley from our lunch stop

At the end of the village street where the road bends to the right there is a small grass area with a seat in the shade of a large tree where we sat for our lunch break. The Ripon Rowel walking route goes along the village street and after our lunch we followed this route along a track to the left to map ref. SE258770.

At the end of a long field we came to a farm track which we followed down the hillside along the edge of the fields to the main street in Mickley at map ref. SE255769. At the road we turned right to walk along the village street. It's all well maintained with the air of a well to do commuter village.

Turning onto the main street in Mickley
Turning onto the main street in Mickley

The Ripon Rowel route to West Tanfield
The Ripon Rowel route to West Tanfield

The Ripon Rowel route across the fields from Mickley
The Ripon Rowel route across the fields from Mickley

A grasshopper on the timber seat
A grasshopper on the timber seat

Ripon Rowel route beside the River Ure
Ripon Rowel route beside the River Ure

Ripon Rowel route beside the River Ure
Ripon Rowel route beside the River Ure

We walked along the riverside for almost 1km to the access track to Quarry House Farm at map ref. SE254783.

Here we continued along the Ripon Rowel route on a path across the field and through a small wood to the bank of the River Ure.

Timber sculpture seat by the Ripon Rowel route near Mickley
Timber sculpture seat by the Ripon Rowel route near Mickley

Ripon Rowel route beside the River Ure
Ripon Rowel route beside the River Ure

Ripon Rowel route beside the River Ure
Ripon Rowel route beside the River Ure

River Ure near West Tanfield
River Ure near West Tanfield

The track near Quarry House Farm approaching West Tanfield
The track near Quarry House Farm approaching West Tanfield

Track approaching West Tanfield
Track approaching West Tanfield

The Marmion Tower next to the church in West Tanfield
The Marmion Tower next to the church in West Tanfield

The Marmion Tower in West Tanfield
The Marmion Tower in West Tanfield

It's an impressive place and we climbed the spiral staircase to see the view from the top. After our inspection of the Marmion Tower and its information board we returned to the village hall car park just across the road and the end of our walk. The whole circuit had been just under 13km and it had taken us almost five hours to walk including our stops and visit to the tower.

We followed this track out to the road bridge over the River Ure at West Tanfield. We crossed the road bridge over the river into West Tanfield and once over the bridge we turned left in front of the pub to walk along the street to the Marmion Tower at map ref. SE267787. This ancient tower was just the gate house to a great fortified mansion that has disappeared over the centuries.

A small copper butterfly by the path
A small copper butterfly by the path

Inside the Marmion Tower at West Tanfield
Inside the Marmion Tower at West Tanfield

Inside the Marmion Tower at West Tanfield
Inside the Marmion Tower at West Tanfield

Looking back into West Tanfield from the Marmion Tower
Looking back into West Tanfield from first floor oriel window of the Marmion Tower

Background Notes:
This is a circular walk of 13km, a little over 8 miles, from West Tanfield on the River Ure, it's about halfway between Ripon & Masham. There's a public car park at the village hall where we start the walk and head out following the route of the Ripon Rowel Walk along the river bank past the weir on the river to Slenningford Mill. The grade 2 listed mill building dates from the end of the 1700's but now it's part of the admin centre of a large caravan site. We continue down-river to North Stainley and go through the village to leave via Cockpit Lane where I assume there must have been a cock fighting venue in the past. As we cross the fields, there is a series of active gravel pits on the left, but they are well screened by an embankment and I didn't find them too intrusive. The path leads passed the embankment through some woodland where there is a huge old oak tree by the path. It has a girth of around 7m, over 20ft, and must be at least 400 or 500 years old. Our route continues to the road through the hamlet of Musterfield where there is a large poultry farm and an old stone marker at the road junction. We head out first along the road, then across the fields and through some woodland to a wooded ridge above the village of Mickley with very pleasant views over the River Ure to West Tanfield and out to the east to the North York Moors. We follow the path down into Mickley and rejoin the Ripon Rowel route along the River Ure again. At one point there is a semi-circular timber sculpture forming a seat which I think is quite striking with it's tall shards of timber pointing skywards supporting the low seat in the long dry grass. It was quite nostalgic for me as we sat there for a drink on a warm summer day because there were so many grass hoppers around in the grass. It was just like it was when I played out in the fields as a boy in the 1950's. We continue along the river bank back to West Tanfield where the walk isn't complete without a visit to the Marmion Tower next to the church about 100m from the car park. This tower is quite impressive on it's own with an large oriel window at the first floor level, but in fact it's only part of the gate house to a long vanished huge manor house. It was just one of the stately homes of the Marmion family. They were a very powerful Norman family who came to England with William the Conquerer as his champions and retained great influence with the kings of England up to the 1400's. They had many great houses and lands in England and in Normandy and the large manor at West Tanfield seems to have been a fairly minor holding in their terms, but the Marmion Tower makes an interesting historical note to end our walk back in West Tanfield.

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