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The village of Fearby
The village of Fearby

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Route No. 500 - Saturday 2 March 2013
Masham, Fearby, High Ellington,
Marfield Nature Reserve circuit - 12km
Lower Wensleydale . . .

Route map from Ordnance Survey Open Space service.

Map: OS Explorer 302 Northallerton & Thirsk


Picnic area by the car park at Masham
Picnic area by the car park at Masham

Looking back down the steps from the toilets
Looking back down the steps from the toilets

Fox Holme Lane passing the animal feed depot
Fox Holme Lane passing the animal feed depot

On the corner we turned right into a short cul-de-sac with an elaborate gateway at the end of it. On the left hand side of the gateway is a pedestrian passage down the side of the Theakston Brewery. At the end of the passage way on Red Lane we turned right to walk past the brewery along Red Lane and along West Holme Road to its junction with Fox Holme Lane. Here we turned left to cross Swinney Beck Bridge and walk along Fox Holme Lane past the animal feed depot.

We met a group of our friends this morning at the car park (50p honesty box for all day) by the River Ure on the edge of Masham at map ref. SE226810. From the car park we followed a tarmac access road around the cricket field to the steps up to the market place. There are some good public toilets at the top of the steps. We crossed Silver Street at the corner of the Market Place to join the route of the Ripon Rowel Walk. We walked along Church Street to the corner where it becomes Park Street.

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

Ripon Rowel Route to the passageway past Theakstons Brewery
Ripon Rowel Route to the passageway past Theakstons Brewery

Fox Holme Lane passing the animal feed depot
Fox Holme Lane passing the animal feed depot

The Ripon Rowel Route leaving Masham
The Ripon Rowel Route leaving Masham

Track across the fields from Masham to Micklebury Lane
Track across the fields from Masham to Micklebury Lane

Track across the fields from Masham to Micklebury Lane
Track across the fields from Masham to Micklebury Lane

We walked up the road opposite, called Mossra Lane for about 250m and then turned left off the road over a stile and along the field edge by a hedgerow.

After the animal feed depot the lane became a track between the fields which we followed for almost 2km to Micklebury Lane at map ref. SE202808.

Track across the fields from Masham to Micklebury Lane
Track across the fields from Masham to Micklebury Lane

Track across the fields from Masham to Micklebury Lane
Track across the fields from Masham to Micklebury Lane

Approaching Micklebury Lane on the Ripon Rowel Route
Approaching Micklebury Lane where we left the Ripon Rowel Route

Turning off Mossra Lane
Turning off Mossra Lane

Path from Mossra Lane to Fearby
Path from Mossra Lane to Fearby

Path from Mossra Lane to Fearby
Path from Mossra Lane to Fearby

After about 400m came to a stile on the right at map ref. SE198809. Here we turned right over the stile and followed the fence line for about 350m out to the road in the village of Fearby at map ref. SE195812.

From Mossra Lane we walked down the edge of the field by the hedge. Near the bottom of the field there was a stile through the hedge. We followed this path diagonally across several fields and stiles.

Path from Mossra Lane to Fearby
Path from Mossra Lane to Fearby

Path from Mossra Lane to Fearby
Path from Mossra Lane to Fearby

Path from Mossra Lane to Fearby
Path from Mossra Lane to Fearby

Friendly horse by the path near Fearby
Friendly horse by the path near Fearby

Reaching the road in Fearby
Reaching the road in Fearby

Walking along Sutton Lane
Walking along Sutton Lane

Sheep grazing by Sutton Lane
Sheep grazing by Sutton Lane

There was a low bank where a farm access track led off the road into the fields. We sat on the bank in the sunshine with a sheep in the field opposite and view across the fields and woodland. After our break we continued along the lane to map ref. SE291825. Here a farm access track bears left off the lane through a steel gate and beside the gate is a stile on a public footpath.

At the road we turned right and walked along the road to the road junction at map ref. SE198812. At the junction we turned left to walk along Crook Lane for about 200m to a junction where we turned right to walk along a narrow lane called Sutton Lane. There was no traffic to speak of and it was quite pleasant walking along this lane in the spring sunshine. After about 750m along the lane we found a good spot for lunch.

Leaving Fearby to turn left on to Crook Lane
Leaving Fearby to turn left on to Crook Lane

Walking along Sutton Lane
Walking along Sutton Lane

Turning off Sutton Lane towards High Ellington
Turning off Sutton Lane towards High Ellington

The countryside by Sutton Lane
The countryside by Sutton Lane

Path across the fields to High Ellington
Path across the fields to High Ellington

An old horse-drawn seed drill
An old horse-drawn seed drill

Path across the fields to High Ellington
Path across the fields to High Ellington

At the road we turned right onto the road and at the house opposite a couple were just starting their lunch of ham salad sandwiches sitting in the warm spring sunshine in a very pleasant garden, but they were unwilling to share them with us.

We followed this path across the fields for about a kilometer to High Ellington. The first 250m heads North and then turned North West around the edge of a small wood. The path then follows a track along the field edges to the road in High Ellington.

Path across the fields to High Ellington
Path across the fields to High Ellington

Path across the fields to High Ellington
Path across the fields to High Ellington

Arriving at High Ellington
Arriving at High Ellington

The view looking East from the path by the wood called Ellington Hall Covert
The view looking East from the path by the wood called Ellington Hall Covert

The road out of High Ellington
The road out of High Ellington

Crossing the A6018 to a footpath opposite
Crossing the A6018 to a footpath opposite

Terraced hillside by the path
Terraced hillside by the path

The path below High Mains Farm
The path below High Mains Farm

There are lots of warning signs. We followed the path from the road around the outside of the gravel workings and across the fields to the farm access track from High Mains Farm at map ref. SE216823, a total distance of about 1.8km.

We followed the road for about 900m out to the junction with the A6018. We crossed the main road and took the path opposite which follows the left hand side of the hedge along the field boundary. On the other side of the hedge is the start of an active gravel extraction operation.

Methodist Chapel in High Ellington
Methodist Chapel in High Ellington

Path from the A6018 around the gravel workings
Path from the A6018 around the gravel workings

Path from the A6018 around the gravel workings
Path from the A6018 around the gravel workings

Texel ewes and lambs near High Mains Cottages
Texel ewes and lambs near High Mains Cottages

Marfield gravel workings from the path approaching High Mains farm
Marfield gravel workings from the path approaching High Mains farm

Pond by the path near High Mains Cottages
Pond by the path near High Mains Cottages

The farm access track at High Mains Cottages
The farm access track at High Mains Cottages

Farm access track from High Mains Cottages
Farm access track from High Mains Cottages

The farm access track turns right to go out to the main road (A6018) and just after the bend the entrance to the nature reserve is through a steel gate on the left.

We walked Southwards along the farm access track for about 800m to the entrance to the Marfield Nature Reserve at map ref. SE218825.

Farm access track from High Mains Cottages
Farm access track from High Mains Cottages

The entrance to Marfield Nature Reserve
The entrance to Marfield Nature Reserve

Path between the ponds at Marfield Nature Reserve
Path between the ponds at Marfield Nature Reserve

Pond at Marfield Nature Reserve
Pond at Marfield Nature Reserve

Whirlpool at the pond outlet
Whirlpool at the pond outlet

Enjoying the view at Marfield Nature Reserve
Enjoying the view at Marfield Nature Reserve

Mute Swans at Marfield Nature Reserve
Mute Swans at Marfield Nature Reserve

They were grazing in the fields around the reserve. There were some mute swans on the water and a few canada geese and greylag geese accompanied by a few mallard, tufted ducks, coots and a pair of oyster catchers.

We walked down a track into the nature reserve and followed the path between the lakes and ponds. There were not a huge number of birds on the water today but there seemed to be numerous geese in the distant fields.

Mute Swans at Marfield Nature Reserve
Mute Swans at Marfield Nature Reserve

Greylag Geese at Marfield Nature Reserve
Greylag Geese at Marfield Nature Reserve

Greylag Geese at Marfield Nature Reserve
Greylag Geese at Marfield Nature Reserve

Path across the fields back to Masham
Path across the fields back to Masham

Llamas by the lane on the edge of Masham
Llamas by the lane on the edge of Masham

Leaving the Black Sheep Brewery visitor centre
Leaving the Black Sheep Brewery visitor centre

We left by the back entrance to cross the main road into Masham (A6018) and back to the car park on the river side. The whole walk had been 12km and it had taken us four and a half hours to walk including our stops. An excellent day out in the warm Spring sunshine.

We walked along the path out of the reserve and follows the access road around to the right. Then we turned off the access road on to a path across the fields that joined a lane into Masham. The lane led us to the entrance to the Black Sheep Brewery visitor centre where we had some refreshments.

The lane back into Masham
The lane back into Masham

Domestic geese and hens by the lane
Domestic geese and hens by the lane

Lane down to the A6018 & back to the car park
Lane down to the A6018 & back to the car park

Entrance to the Black Sheep Brewery and the visitor centre
Entrance to the Black Sheep Brewery and the visitor centre

Background Notes:
This 12km circular walk starts in Masham at the car park by the river Ure next to the cricket field. We set off up the steps to the market square where the annual sheep fair is held each September. Masham recieved it's market charter in 1250 and there has been a regular market here ever since. From the Market square we follow the route of the Ripon Rowel Walk through a passageway around the side of Theakston's Brewery. It's a family run firm founded in 1827. We continue past the brewery still following the route of the Ripon Rowel Walk. This is a circular walk of 80km or 50 miles around the city of Ripon and we are on the northermost edge of the route here. We follow a track across the fields westwards towards the village of Fearby about two and a half kilometers away. We follow the path to the road through the village with it's wide grass verge. The buildings are quite spread out with lots of grass and trees making for a very pleasant aspect. From Fearby we walk along a minor road towards Ellington. Our route is a along a narrow lane with very little traffic. The land everywhere is still completely waterlogged after all the rain last autumn, continuing through the winter and still with very few dry spells, and so it make quite a nice change to have the firm footing of the lane to walk along. After about 1.5km we turn off the lane to follow a path across the fields to High Ellington. Here we join a road out of the village past the old Methodist Chapel opened in 1877. The road out of the village brings us to the main road to Leyburn. We cross the main road and follow a path along the boundary between the fields and a series of large gravel pits. The gravel workings by Lafarge Aggregates occupy a large site and we skirt around the edge of it to High Mains Farm. We follow the farm access road out past Low Mains Farm to the Eastern edge of the active gravel pits. Here there is a very pleasant surprise. We come to the entrance to the Mayfield Nature Reserve. This is the site of the old gravel pits, now worked out and flooded forming a large attractive wetland nature reserve, full of wild fowl. When I was here a few weeks ago there were large numbers of greylag geese and some canada geese grazing in the fields around the reserve, with a few geese and swans on the water together with mallards, tufted ducks, moorhens and coots. There's a bench to sit on by the largest of the lakes and a hide for the more serious enthusiasts to sit in overlooking the site. My friends and I spent a most enjoyable half an hour walking slowly through the site and watching the birds on the water and flying overhead. From the nature reserve we follow a path across the fields back to Masham. The path enters the town by the Black Sheep Brewery and visitor centre. This brewery is run by another branch of the Theakston family and the name hints at a certain rivalry between Masham's two family run breweries. From here we make our way back to the riverside car park and the end of the walk.

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