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Robin & Snowdrops under the bushes in Hell Wath Nature Reserve
Robin & Snowdrops under the bushes in Hell Wath Nature Reserve

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Route No. 656 - Wednesday 1 February 2017
Hell Wath Lane, Hell Wath Nature Reserve, B6265,
Studley Roger, Plumpton La, R. Skell, Whitcliffe La,
Whitcliffe Wood circuit - 7km
Ripon . . .

Route map from Ordnance Survey Open Space service.

Map: OS Explorer 299 Ripon & Borough Bridge or
Explorer 298 Nidderdale (the whole route is on both maps)


About to start our walk from the car park at Hell Wath Lane on the southern edge of Ripon
About to start our walk from the car park at Hell Wath Lane on the southern edge of Ripon

Walking along Hell Wath Lane past Hell Wath Cottage
Walking along Hell Wath Lane past Hell Wath Cottage

The track into Hell Wath Nature Reserve
The track into Hell Wath Nature Reserve

The nature reserve is popular with dog walkers
The nature reserve is popular with dog walkers

From the parking area we set off along Hell Wath Lane and passed Hell Wath Cottage on our left. Just beyond this cottage we turned right along a muddy track into Hell Wath Nature Reserve, owned & managed by Harrogate Borough Council. There are paths all over the site with a main path along the western boundary by the River Skell and another main path across the grassland in the middle of the reserve. This was the path that we followed to the north east corner of the site at map ref. SE 303 706. Here there is a flight of stairs down the hillside to the bank of the River Skell.

The weather this week has been dull, gloomy and wet but today the sky is forecast to be a bit brighter with no rain for a few hours from lunch time. My wife and I drove to the parking area along side Hell Wath Lane (map ref. SE 301 698) on the southern edge of Ripon. From the centre of Ripon we drove along Low Skellgate across the River Skell and then along Harrogate Road for about 500m to turn right onto Whitcliffe Lane and then after about 1km we turned right onto Hell Wath Lane and parked there at about 11.30am.

Turning off the lane into Hell Wath Nature Reserve
Turning off the lane into Hell Wath Nature Reserve

Making our way through Hell wath Nature Reserve
Making our way through Hell Wath Nature Reserve

Nearing the top of the steps down to the River Skell
Nearing the top of the steps down to the River Skell

Flight of steps down to the River Skell at the northern end of Hell Wath Nature Reserve
Flight of steps down to the River Skell at the northern end of Hell Wath Nature Reserve

Footbridge over the River Skell
Footbridge over the River Skell

 Steps up to Mallorie Park Drive
Steps up to Mallorie Park Drive

River Laver Weir Flow Gauging Station
River Laver Weir Flow Gauging Station

Donkeys in the field on the side of the B6265
Donkeys in the field on the side of the B6265

We followed the path by the river next to the road for about 100m, past a river gauging station and then up a few more steps back to the road. We continued along Mallorie Park drive to the roundabout with the B6265.At the roundabout we turned left and walked along the path next to the road for about 350m (Just past the entrance to the River Laver Caravan Park on the right hand side)

We turned right here and passed the confluence of the River Skell and the River Laver. Just below the confluence we crossed the footbridge and followed the footpath northwards beside the River Laver for about 150m to some steps up to Mallorie Park Drive. At this road we turned left for just a few metres and then followed a path down to the river bank again.

Footpath by the River Laver
Footpath by the River Laver

Path to the river bank from Mallorie Park Drive
Path to the river bank from Mallorie Park Drive


Mini-roundabout on the B6265

Walking along the B6265
Walking along the B6265

Kissing gate off the B6265 leading to the field path to Studley Roger
Kissing gate off the B6265 leading to the field path to Studley Roger

Fenced path across the fields to Studley Roger
Fenced path across the fields to Studley Roger

The road through Studley Roger
The road through Studley Roger

Plumpton Lane passing Plumpton Hall, a large farm
Plumpton Lane passing Plumpton Hall, a large farm

At the road we turned left and walked along the road past the entrance to the Studley Royal Deer Park. We continued along the access road called Plumpton Lane to Plumpton Hall. We followed the lane past Plumpton Hall, a large farm, to a wooded bank leading down to the River Skell.

Here we crossed the main road to a kissing gate opposite that led us to a fenced footpath across the fields. We followed this path for about 1km to the road in Studley Roger village at map ref. SE 290 702.

Approaching Studley Roger along the fenced path
Approaching Studley Roger along the fenced path

Passing the entrance to Studley Royal Deer Park
Passing the entrance to Studley Royal Deer Park

Leaving the fields to follow the track down to the River Skell
Leaving the fields to follow the track down to the River Skell

Footbridge over the River Skell just upstream of the vehicle ford
Footbridge over the River Skell just upstream of the vehicle ford


Looking back to the vehicle ford across the River Skell


Nearing the top of the climb up the side valley

Once across the river we followed a track up a narrow side valley heading south away from the river. At the top of the slope the track doubled back to continue climbing up to the top edge of the woodland.

There is a ford across the River Skell here for vehicles and just upstream of the ford there is a footbridge over the River Skell which we crossed. Often the river bed is dry here and the river flows underground but today the river was in full spate after all the recent rain.

Climbing up a little side valley away from the River Skell
Climbing up a little side valley away from the River Skell

The track doubles back to climb to the edge of the woodland
The track doubles back to climb to the edge of the woodland

Gate from the woodland track to a field path leading to Whitcliffe Lane
Gate from the woodland track to a field path leading to Whitcliffe Lane

Field path up a muddy slope
Field path up a muddy slope


Heading for Whitcliffe Lane along the muddy field path

At the Whitcliffe Lane we turned left and walked along the lane past Whitcliffe Hall for about 500m to Whitcliffe Wood on the left hand side of the lane.

Here there was a gate into some grassland with a flock of sheep grazing. We followed the path across the fields for about 300m to Whitcliffe Lane at map ref. SE 296 688, next a large farm called Whitcliffe Hall.

Heading for Whitcliffe Lane along the muddy field path
Heading for Whitcliffe Lane along the field path

Gate onto Whitcliffe Lane
Gate onto Whitcliffe Lane

Passing Whitcliffe Hall along Whitcliffe Lane
Passing Whitcliffe Hall along Whitcliffe Lane

Entrance to Whitcliffe Hall off Whitcliffe Lane
Entrance to Whitcliffe Hall off Whitcliffe Lane

Track through Whitcliffe Wood
Entrance to Whitcliffe Wood off Whitcliffe Lane

Track through Whitcliffe Wood
Track through Whitcliffe Wood

Path round the field from Whitcliffe Wood to Hell Wath Cottage
Path round the field from Whitcliffe Wood to Hell Wath Cottage

At the lane we turned right and walked along the lane for a few metres back to the car park and the end of our walk. The whole walk had been 7km and it had taken us about two and a quarter hours to walk. The weather forecasters had correctly predicted no rain but we were about half an hour too early for the promised sunny breaks in the cloud but we did see some sunshine as we drove home.

Whitcliffe Wood is a nature reserve on private land and managed by the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust. We turned left off Whitcliffe Lane into Whitcliffe Wood and followed the path through Whitcliffe Wood past a disused quarry face to the exit from the wood into some grassland. We followed the path around the edge of the field to Hell Wath Lane at the side of Hell Wath Cottage.

Following Whitcliffe Lane back towards Ripon
Following Whitcliffe Lane back towards Ripon

Track through Whitcliffe Wood
Track through Whitcliffe Wood

Exit from Whitcliffe Wood into the fields
Exit from Whitcliffe Wood into the fields

Turning onto Hell Wath Lane from the path at Hell Wath Cottage
Turning onto Hell Wath Lane from the path at Hell Wath Cottage

Returning to the car park along Hell Wath Lane at the end of our walk
Returning to the car park along Hell Wath Lane at the end of our walk

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