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Pleasant recreation area by the River Nidd just upstream of Grimbald Bridge
Pleasant recreation area by the River Nidd just upstream of Grimbald Bridge

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Route No. 482 - Saturday 1 September 2012
Knaresborough Round via Harrogate Golf Club
& Low Bridge to Grimbald Bridge,
Abbey Road, Waterside circuit - 10km
Nidderdale . . .

Route map from Ordnance Survey Open Space service.

Map: OS Explorer 289 Leeds


Rowing on the River Nidd next to the car park
Rowing on the River Nidd next to the car park

Memorial stone to Beryl Burton by the cycleway
Memorial stone to Beryl Burton by the cycleway

Following the Beryl Burton Cyleway to Bilton Hall
Following the Beryl Burton Cycleway to Bilton Hall

Once across the river we immediately turned right off the road onto the 'Beryl Burton' cycleway along the river bank. We had made a late start and by now it was 11.00am and there were already several rowing boats out on the river. We followed the cycleway gradually climbing up for about 1.2km to the entrance to Bilton Hall at map ref. SE333572.

The weather forecast for today was for a fine bright day and so my wife and I drove to Knaresborough and parked in the riverside 'pay & display' car park off the A59 at map ref. SE344571. (Next to the entrance to Conyngham Hall) From the car park we walked back out to the road and crossed the River Nidd on the road bridge.

Crossing the River Nidd on the A59
Crossing the River Nidd on the A59

Following the Beryl Burton Cyleway to Bilton Hall
Following the Beryl Burton Cycleway to Bilton Hall

Coming on to Bilton Hall Drive from the cycleway
Coming on to Bilton Hall Drive from the cycleway

The entrance to Bilton Hall
The entrance to Bilton Hall

Large allottment site off Bilton Hall Drive
Large allotment site off Bilton Hall Drive

Walking along the A59
Walking along the A59

The Knaresborough Round route off Forest Lane
The Knaresborough Round route off Forest Lane

Here we turned left, still on the Knaresborough Round route, to follow a track between the houses to the edge of Harrogate Golf course. After about 100m the path turned sharp right between some woodland and the back gardens of the houses on Forest Lane. Then after another 100m the path turned sharp left and followed the edge of the golf course through the trees until we reached the Harrogate to York Railway line at map ref. SE340562. We crossed the line using the unmanned pedestrian level crossing.

Here we joined and the Knaresborough Round walking route that follows Bilton Hall's tarmac access road for about 800m out to the A59 at map ref. SE333566. Here we turned right and walked along the footpath of the main road for about 200m to a minor road on the left called Forest Lane. We followed Forest Lane, a residential street, for about 350m to map ref. SE333561.

Reaching the A59 from Bilton Hall drive
Reaching the A59 from Bilton Hall drive

Turning off Forest Lane on the Knaresborough Round
Turning off Forest Lane on the Knaresborough Round

Crossing the Harrogate - York railway line
Crossing the Harrogate - York railway line

Path around the edge of harrogate golf course
Path around the edge of harrogate golf course just before the railway crossing

Path by the hay fields just after the railway crossing
Path by the hay fields just after the railway crossing

The Knaresborough Round route across the fields
The Knaresborough Round route across the fields

Pond next to our lunch stop
Pond next to our lunch stop

Path down to the B6163
Path down to the B6163

As we approached the end of the third field the was a large fallen tree branch along the edge of the field to our left. We had made a late start today so we sat on this fallen branch next to the oak tree it had come from for a drink and a sandwich. It was a pleasant spot with a pretty pond surrounded by irises in the next field. After our break we continued along the path to the B6163 at map ref. SE349562.

On the other side of the line we continued along the path down the edge of fields where the grass was being cut for hay. At map ref. SE342561, about 250m from the railway the path forks with one branch following the field edge straight on to Calcutt and one branch turning left along the other edge of the field up a slight slope. We took the path to the left.

The Knaresborough Round route across the fields
The Knaresborough Round route across the fields

Lunch stop on a fallen oak branch
Lunch stop on a fallen oak branch

Waiting to cross the B6163
Waiting to cross the B6163

Start of the riverside path heading downstream
Start of the riverside path heading downstream

Path beside the River Nidd
Path beside the River Nidd

River Nidd seen from the path
River Nidd seen from the path

We walked around a large bend in the river, past rapids and weirs to a large static caravan site. Within the caravan site, at map ref. SE361560, there was a large grassy area next to the river between to weirs about 200m apart. There were seats around the edge of the grass with a couple of anglers at the water's edge and a few families picnicking and feeding the ducks on the river. It was a very pleasant spot and we sat on a seat for a drink and just to enjoy the scene.

We crossed this busy road with some difficulty as the traffic is very fast and the visibility is not good. Then we walked down the hill for about 100m and turned right along a narrow access road. After a few hundred metres we came to a white painted house where the access road ended and there was a sign directing us to the path around the side of the house and onto the riverside path through the trees. We followed this very pleasant path by the River Nidd for about 2km.

Path down the side of a white cottage
Path down the side of a white cottage

The path here was a field away from the river
The path here was a field away from the river

Path following the river downstream
Path following the river downstream

Weir on the River Nidd seen from the recreation area
Weir on the River Nidd seen from the recreation area

Recreation area by the River Nidd at the caravan site
Recreation area by the River Nidd at the caravan site

Reaching Grimbald Bridge on the track from the caravan site
Reaching Grimbald Bridge on the track from the caravan site

Walking along Abbey Road
Walking along Abbey Road

Steps down to St. Robert's Cave
Steps down to St. Robert's Cave

We walked along Abbey Road for about 150m to a plaque on the wall on the left hand side of the road. This marked the gate to some steps down to the riverside and St. Robert's Cave. The plaque told us that he was born Robert Fowler the son of the mayor in 1160. He became a hermit and lived in the cave for 30 years.

From there we followed the track from the caravan site out to the B6164 at map ref. SE362561. Here we left the Knaresborough Round route and turned left to cross Grimbald Bridge over the river. On the other side of the river we turned left again into Abbey Road.

Turning into Abbey Road
Turning into Abbey Road

Unusual sheep next to Abbey Road
Unusual sheep next to Abbey Road

Entrance to St. Robert's Cave
Entrance to St. Robert's Cave

Continuing along Abbey road
Continuing along Abbey road

Dragon sculpture above the road
Dragon sculpture above the road

Admiring the dragon sculpture
Admiring the dragon sculpture

Kingfisher sculpture by the roadside
Kingfisher sculpture by the roadside

The first sculpture we came to was a dragon standing on all fours above the road, the smallest of the tree but still very impressive. Then quite high up the valley side is a huge carving of the 'Green Man', the ancient woodland spirit. It's about 6m tall incorporating the tree roots and very detailed. It's an amazing sight.The final carving of the trio is by the roadside between the road and the river. It's a diving kingfisher grasping at two fish below its feet. The carving is incredibly detailed and a great spectacle standing about 5m tall.

We continued along Abbey Road passing some very nice riverside properties. About 600m along Abbey Road from St Robert's Cave we came to another plaque, this time quite high up on the wall of a building on the right hand side of the road. This one informed us that there had been a Trinitarian Priory here housing 12 friars from 1262 to 1538. It's this priory that gave rise to the name Abbey Road and most of the properties along this part of Abbey Road have names alluding to the priory. A few hundred metres further on, where the road came back to the riverside there were some amazing wooden sculptures. There are three sculptures by a chainsaw sculptor from Consett in Co. Durham called Tommy Crags. Each one is carved from the standing trunk of a dead tree.

Plaque by the window on the gable end about the Priory
Plaque by the window on the gable end about the Priory

The 'Green Man' high above the road
The 'Green Man' high above the road

Kingfisher sculpture by the roadside
Kingfisher sculpture by the roadside

The 'Green Man' sculpture high above the road, it's about 6m tall
The 'Green Man' sculpture high above the road, it's about 6m tall

Continuing along Abbey road
Continuing along Abbey road

Start of the footpath off the road up the bank
Start of the footpath off the road up the bank

Path across the gardens along the slope
Path across the gardens along the slope

The path then descended through a garden back down to the road about 300m along the road. It was just a fun diversion that gives another perspective on this very attractive area.

We continued along Abbey Road and took a narrow public footpath climbing up the hillside to our right between the gardens. The path crossed an access drive coming up from Abbey Road.

Top of the climb ready to turn left
Top of the climb ready to turn left

Heading back down to the road
Heading back down to the road

Cliff of the Nidd Gorge beside Abbey Road
Cliff of the Nidd Gorge beside Abbey Road

Chapel of Our Lady of the crag
Chapel of Our Lady of the crag

This is now a private house but it was cut from the rock face in the 1770's and 80's by Thomas Hill as a tourist attraction known as Fort Montague. (All this from another blue plaque thanks to the Knaresborough Civic Society) Just beyond the House In the Rock we reached the end of Abbey Road at Low Bridge across the River Nidd on the B6163.

After another 400m along the road we came to the Chapel of Our Lady of the crag on the right hand side of the road. The chapel was cut out of the rock as a wayside shrine in 1408 and there's another blue plaque from the Knaresborough Civic Society giving some basic information about it. Next to the chapel is the House In The Rock.

Cliff of the Nidd Gorge beside Abbey Road
Cliff of the Nidd Gorge beside Abbey Road

Low Bridge at the end of Abbey Road
Low Bridge at the end of Abbey Road

Walking along Waterside
Walking along Waterside

Steps off Waterside up towards the town centre
Steps off Waterside up towards the town centre

Leaving Bebra Gardens for the castle
Leaving Bebra Gardens for the castle

Part way up we turned left into Bebra Gardens. This is a very attractive public park with a nice paddling pool for children. We climbed up through the park to a path & steps across to Knaresborough Castle.

At Low Bridge we crossed the main road and continued along the road opposite called Waterside following the river upstream. After about 350m there were some steps on the right hand side of the road leading up the hillside to the town centre.

Gloucester Old Spot pig next to Waterside
Gloucester Old Spot pig next to Waterside

Looking down to the paddling pool in Bebra Gardens
Looking down to the paddling pool in Bebra Gardens

Steps from Bebra Gardens to the castle
Steps from Bebra Gardens to the castle

Weir on the River Nidd below the castle
Weir on the River Nidd below the castle

Looking up the Nidd valley from the castle
Looking up the Nidd valley from the castle

Raven at Knaresborough Castle
Raven at Knaresborough Castle

Ruins of Knaresborough Castle
Ruins of Knaresborough Castle

Path from the castle down to the riverside
Path from the castle down to the riverside

The views from the castle are superb with weir on the river and the railway viaduct crossing the gorge. We followed the path down the sheer valley side from below the castle back to Waterside.

At busy times there is a lady there dressed as a crusader who has several ravens on display tethered on leather straps.

Walking around the castle gardens
Walking around the castle gardens

Knaresborough Castle grounds
Knaresborough Castle grounds

Raven at Knaresborough Castle
Raven at Knaresborough Castle

Path from the castle down to the riverside
Path from the castle down to the riverside

One of the teashops by the river
One of the teashops by the river

Thatched house on Waterside
Thatched house on Waterside

Two describe the local dying industry of the past and a third tells about the Old Manor House built as a hunting lodge for King John at the beginning of the 1200's. We crossed the A59 and walked back into the car park and the end of our walk. There's so much to see on this walk of about 10km that it took us over four and a half hours including our many stops.

The path reaches the road where there are several teashops with tables outside. It's a very pleasant place to stop for a coffee near the end of the walk. From the tea shops we followed Waterside under the railway viaduct and ut to the A59 at map ref. SE345571. As we approached the main road there are several more blue plaques by the Knaresborough Civic Society.

Looking back along Waterside to the railway viaduct
Looking back along Waterside to the railway viaduct

Rowing boats for hire at the end of Waterside
Rowing boats for hire at the end of Waterside

Rowing boats on the river by the car park
Rowing boats on the river by the car park

Background Notes:
This walk is a 10km, 6 mile, circuit of Knaresborough starting at the riverside car park off the A59. We cross the river on the road bridge and head upstream along the river bank following the Beryl Burton Cycleway. She was the best woman cyclist of her day being world champion 7 times. She set a womens' time trial record in 1967 that was better than the equivalent men's record and the men didn't catch up until 2 years later, that's how good she was! We follow the cycleway to Bilton Hall where we join the Knaresborough Round route. This is a 20 mile, 32km circuit of Knaresborough and we follow it for about 6km, over half of our walk. This route leads us south of Knaresborough to a riverside path heading downstream to Grimbald Bridge. We cross the bridge to walk along Abbey Road where we come to St. Robert's Cave. He was Robert Fowler the son of the mayor of York and he lived in this cave for 30 years. He became a renowned and respected holyman and many poor and sick people came to him for aid. King John himself made a pilgrimage to see him just a few years before Robert's death in the early 1200's. A little further along the road is the site of a Trintarian Priory that gave Abbey Road its name. Twleve friars lived there. This order was founded in France at the end of the 1100's primarily to ransom Christians held captive after the crusades and their ministry included the welfare of the poor and needy. The work with the poor by St. Robert and his international reputation as a holyman is the reason the priory was located here. We continue our walk along Abbey Road and soon come to three impressive wooden sculptures. They were commissioned at the beginning of this year by the land owner and carved by a chainsaw sculptor from Consett in County Durham, called Tommy Craggs. Each carving is from the rooted stump of a dead tree and the first one you'll see is a large dragon standing on all fours above the road. Then much higher up the valley side is an amazing carving of the 'Green Man' or the spirit of the woods. This one uses the whole tree trunk and the roots growing down the slope and the whole work is about 5m tall - really striking! The last of the trio is a kingfisher diving to catch two fishes. The detail on this image is impressive and the sculpture stands about 4m high. These sculptures are a real treat to come across by the road side. What a wonderful concept by both the land owner and the artist! Shortly before the end of Abbey Road we come to a wayside shrine cut into the rock in the very early 1400's by a local man John the Mason. It's called the Chapel of Our Lady of the Crag. Next to this shrine there is The House in the Rock. This house was cut into the rock in the late 1700's by a man called Thomas Hill and was originally known as Fort Montague. In its day it was quite a tourist attraction but now it's just a private house. We continue along the riverside now on a street called Waterside. We climb up some steps from this street to some public gardens called Bebra Gardens laid out up the hillside. They're very attractive and there's a children's padding pool. From these gardens we cross into the grounds of Knaresborough Castle with amazing views over the gorge of the River Nidd running through the town. Often on busy days in the castle grounds you can see Her Majesty's Keeper of the Castle Ravens. She is dressed as a crusader in chain mail and cloak and has several tethered tame ravens with her. Quite a sight. From the castle we follow a steep path zig-zagging down the sheer side of the gorge back to the riverside where there are several nice tea shops for a break before returning to the car park along Waterside but don't forget to look out for several more interesting blue plaques by the Knaresborough Civic Society on the walls before we reach the end of our walk for this week.

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