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Stile from the track coming up from the River Skell to the road above Fountains Bridge
Stile from the track coming up from the River Skell to the road above Fountains Bridge

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Route No. 730 - Thursday 26 July 2018
Sawley, Studley Obelisk, Aldfield,
Hird House Farm circuit - 9km
Nidderdale (AONB) . . .

Route map from Ordnance Survey Open Space service.

Map: OS Explorer 298 Nidderdale


Parking area at the Sawley village hall at the start of our walk
Parking area at the Sawley village hall at the start of our walk

Parking area at the start of our walk
Parking area at the start of our walk

Walking along the village street in Sawley
Walking along the village street in Sawley

We walked southwards through the village for about 250m to the end of the village and a little tarmac access road off the left hand side of the road through the village. We turned left here past the little grass road island, and on to the access road. Almost at once we kept to the right of the access road along a stony track into a field.

This morning my friend, Jim, and I made an early start and drove to Sawley, a little village about 2km west of Fountains Abbey. We parked at the grassy parking area and recreation field between the village hall and the road at the northern end of the village at map ref. SE 247 677. The weather forecast was for another very hot day and we were ready to set off from the car park before 8.30am.

Setting off along the village street in Sawley
Setting off along the village street in Sawley

Walking along the village street in Sawley
Walking along the village street in Sawley

Our left turn off the village street at the southern end of Sawley village
Our left turn off the village street at the southern end of Sawley village

Immediately after the turn we kept right on this stony track
Immediately after the turn we kept right on this stony track

Overgrown corner and rusty hay rake at the stile
Overgrown corner and rusty hay rake at the stile

From the path across the field we took the right hand gateway
From the path across the field we took the right hand gateway

We kept the hedge on our right as we crossed these fields
We kept the hedge on our right as we crossed these fields

Over the stile we turned right for about 30m and walked next to the hedge to the corner of the field. At the corner we turned left and continued along the edge of the field next to the end of a strip of woodland for a few metres and continued along the edge of the field for about 150m to pass through a gate into the next field. We continued along the edge of the field for another 150m to the end of a second strip of woodland on our right. Ahead of us there was a field gate and we paused to check the map. In the field ahead there were two hares chasing each other around the field and into our field. They were so intent on the chase that they ignored us and I managed to get a photo of them. When the hares had disappeared from view we went through the gate and walked along the field edge with the hedge on our left now.

At the entrance to the field we kept to the right hand edge of the field and followed the route of a public footpath alongside the hedge. As we approached the far corner of the field it looked as though the way ahead was blocked but as we got nearer we could see that amongst the tall nettles there was a rusting old hay rake, the kind that was horse-drawn and in use in the first half of the twentieth century. We made our way round the nettles and between the wall and the hay rake to a dilapidated stile in the corner of the field. From the stile we headed diagonally across the next field to a pair of gateways in the middle of the end of the field. We took the right hand gateway and continued along the public footpath along side the hedge. When we reached the corner of the field we crossed a wooden site next to an ash tree, into the next field.

Entrance to the field at the end of the short stony track
Entrance to the field at the end of the short stony track

Stile out of the field by the old hay rake
Stile out of the field by the old hay rake

Stile by an ash tree into the next field
Stile by an ash tree into the next field

Hares chasing each other across the field
Hares chasing each other across the field

We went through the gate ahead and continued along the edge of the field with the hedge on our left
We went through the gate ahead and continued along the edge of the field with the hedge on our left

Narrow, overgrown, gated gap in the hedge
Narrow, overgrown, gated gap in the hedge

We crossed field to the gate at this corner
We crossed field to the gate at this corner

We continued along the field edge to the woodland ahead
We continued along the field edge to the woodland ahead

Through this pedestrian gate we followed the route of the public footpath around the edge of the field with the hedge on our right. We continued along the edge of the fields for about 200m to the edge of some woodland called Green Bank Wood on the OS Explorer map. We continued along the edge of the fields around the edge of this wood for another 200m until we came to a pedestrian gate on to a narrow lane at map ref. SE 263 677. The approach to the gate in the field was hard baked clumps of earth that had clearly been a muddy quagmire trodden by cattle. Today it was awkward walking on this lumpy ground but when it is wet it would probably be a worse proposition.

We continued still following the public footpath to the far corner of the field we continued for just a few metres round the corner of the field to a narrow overgrown gap it the hedge with a pedestrian gate on the far side of the gap. Jim managed to push his way through the gap to open the gate and I followed as he held the gate open. Through the gate we were in a large grassy field. Diagonally across the field we could see a corner in the hedge on the opposite side of the field. We set off across the field to this corner in the hedge opposite and reached it after about 150m. There was a field gate and a few metres to the right there was a pedestrian gate into the field.

We crossed the field to a corner in the hedge opposite
We crossed the field to a corner in the hedge opposite

We followed the edge of the field with the hedge on our right
We followed the edge of the field with the hedge on our right

We walked along the field edge with the woodland on our right
We walked along the field edge with the woodland on our right

The path along the field edge took us to this gate on to Low Gate Lane
The path along the field edge took us to this gate on to Low Gate Lane

We turned left to walk along Low Gate Lane
We turned left to walk along Low Gate Lane

Turning right off Low Gate Lane on to the Ripon Rowel Walk
Turning right off Low Gate Lane on to the Ripon Rowel Walk

Overgrown path down to the River Skell
Overgrown path down to the River Skell

We followed this path down the side of the River Skell valley through dense patches of undergrowth of bracken and water balsam. In the valley bottom the path turned left to cross the River Skell on a small stone arch bridge.

At the lane, called Low Gate Lane, we turned left and walked along this pretty lane for almost 500m. At this point just before a sharp left hand bend in the lane we turned right off the lane doubling back a little on a footpath that is part of the Ripon Rowel Walk.

Walking along Low Gate Lane
Walking along Low Gate Lane

Following the Ripon Rowel walk down to the River Skell
Following the Ripon Rowel walk down to the River Skell

Path across the valley bottom to a footbridge over the river
Path across the valley bottom to a footbridge over the river

Stone arch bridge over the River Skell
Stone arch bridge over the River Skell

From the bridge we joined a forestry access track
From the bridge we joined a forestry access track

The track led us out of the woodland
The track led us out of the woodland . . .

We continued along the track crossing a field and climbing up to a pair of field gates leading on to the road. As we approached these gate we could see some of the ruins of Fountains Abbey ahead of us in the bottom of the valley. Next to these gates there was a wooden step stile that we crossed onto the road.

Across the river we came to a wide stony forest access track. Here we turned right and walked along this track with the River Skell on our right, still following the route of the Ripon Rowel Walk. After about 300m we came to a gate at the end of the woodland.

We walked along the track down the valley
We walked along the track down the valley

up across a field to the road above Fountains Bridge
. . . and up across a field to the road above Fountains Bridge

Stile from the track coming up from the River Skell to the road above Fountains Bridge
Stile from the track coming up from the River Skell to the road above Fountains Bridge

Walking up the road away from Fountains Bridge
Walking up the road away from Fountains Bridge

Joning the Fountains Abbey access road from the stony track
Joining the Fountains Abbey access road from the stony track

Following the path on the left of the access road
Following the path on the left of the access road

The path was separated from the access road by a tall hedge. We followed this path, part of the Ripon Rowel Walk, for almost 500m to a point just beyond the roundabout at the entrance to the visitor centre car park. Here we crossed the access road and continued along a track on the right hand side of the road.

At the road we turned left and walked along the road up the hill. After about 100m we kept to a stony track off to the right of the road. After another 70m the stony track joined the access road to the Fountains Abbey Visitor Centre. We crossed the access road and continued along a footpath to the left of the access road.

Turning right off the road on to a stony access track
Turning right off the road on to a stony access track

We walked along the footpath on the left of the access road
We walked along the footpath on the left of the access road

Following the path on the left of the access road
Following the path on the left of the access road

Crossing to the path on the right of the access road just beyond the roundabout at the abbey car park entrance
Crossing to the path on the right of the access road just beyond the roundabout at the abbey car park entrance

Footpath to the right of the accessroad heading for the Obelisk
Footpath to the right of the access road heading for the Obelisk

Crossing the road by the Obelisk to the gate opposite
Crossing the road by the Obelisk to the gate opposite

Looking back to the Obelisk & spire of St. Mary's church
Looking back to the Obelisk & spire of St. Mary's church

Kissing gate from the farm track to a field path
Kissing gate from the farm track to a field path

We followed this track with the hedge on our right for about 500m to a finger post footpath sign at a kissing gate through the hedge on our right. From this gate there was a clear path up the slope crossing the field to a kissing gate in the corner of the field that led us on to the road.

We followed this track for another 500m to the Obelisk in the Studley Royal deer park near St. Mary's Church with its tall spire. Just before we reached the obelisk we turned left across the road away from the Ripon Rowel Walk to a kissing gate into the fields. There was a clear path across the field. At the far side of the field the path became a farm access track with a hedge on the right of the track.

Entrance to the deer park by the Obelisk
Entrance to the deer park by the Obelisk

Path across the field from the kissing gate
Path across the field from the kissing gate

We followed the farm track with the hedge on our right
We followed the farm track with the hedge on our right

Path from the kissing gate to the road
Path from the kissing gate to the road

Gate on to the road from the field path
Gate on to the road from the field path

At the gate we turned left and walked along the road
At the gate we turned left and walked along the road

Blue plaque on the wall of the churchyard
Blue plaque on the wall of the churchyard

Walking along the village street in Aldfield
Walking along the village street in Aldfield

There is a sign almost lost in the hedge at the farm entrance indicating that the footpath turning is further along the road. In fact we walked another 100m along the road to the end of the field on the left of the road. Here there is a wooden finger post showing the route of a public footpath through an iron gate between stone pillars.

At the road we turned right and walked along the road for about 300m to a road junction on our left by the village church at Aldfield. We turned left here and walked past the church and through the village for about 400m to a right hand bend in the road at the entrance to Druids Farm.

Road junction by the church at Aldfield
Road junction by the church at Aldfield

Church of St. Lawrence in Aldfield
Church of St. Lawrence in Aldfield

'Footpath' sign lost in the hedge at Druids Farm
'Footpath' sign lost in the hedge at Druids Farm

Gate to the field path about 100m beyond the entrance to Druids
Gate to the field path about 100m beyond the entrance to Druids Farm

There was no defined path on the ground
There was no defined path on the ground

Taking aim from this gateway to the stile into the woodland
Taking aim from this gateway to the stile into the woodland

My Explorer map shows the path leaving this field at the far corner, so we headed diagonally across the field to that corner. From there we continued diagonally across the next field to a stile into the woodland.

We followed the route of the path along the edge of the field to a gate in the far corner of the field. Through this gate there was no clear path on the ground.

Heading across the field to the next gateway
Heading across the field to the next gateway

Stile from the field into the woodland
Stile from the field into the woodland

The woodland path had been expanded to a wide track for forestry machinery
The woodland path had been expanded to a wide track for forestry machinery

Forsetry machinery track through the woodland
Forestry machinery track through the woodland

The original footpath going straight on where the wide machinery track turned down the valley side
The original footpath going straight on where the wide machinery track turned down the valley side

Ruined building hidden in the trees at the valley bottom
Ruined building hidden in the trees at the valley bottom

Narrow overgrown path to the left of the track
Narrow overgrown path to the left of the track

There was a stony forest access road at the bottom running next to the meandering course of the River Skell a few metres away. We turned right for a few metres along the forestry road and just beyond the ruined building we finally noticed a very narrow overgrown path from the left of the access road through the undergrowth for about 25m to a wooden footbridge across the River Skell.

Over this stile the footpath had been turned into a wide track by forestry machinery. We followed the machinery track for about 250m to a point where the machinery track turned left heading straight down the hillside. Where the machinery track turned left we found the old footpath continuing straight on for a few metres before heading down the hillside to a ruined building at the bottom hidden amongst the trees.

Forsetry machinery track through the woodland
Forestry machinery track through the woodland

Following the footpath down the hillside
Following the footpath down the hillside

Ruined building hidden in the trees at the valley bottom
Ruined building hidden in the trees at the valley bottom

Narrow overgrown path to the footbridge over the R. Skell
Narrow overgrown path to the footbridge over the R. Skell

Footbridge across the River Skell
Footbridge across the River Skell

Path from the footbridge up the wooded bank to the fields
Path from the footbridge up the wooded bank to the fields

Stile to the fields at the top of the wooded bank
Stile to the fields at the top of the wooded bank

From this stile we continued along the path up the field beside a narrow strip of uncultivated rough land to a gate at the top of the field. We passed through the home made opening section of the gate into the next field.

Once we had crossed the bridge there was a clear path climbing up the valley side. We followed this path for about 200m from the footbridge to the edge of the valley woodland up to a stile into the fields.

Path from the footbridge up the wooded bank to the fields
Path from the footbridge up the wooded bank to the fields

Nearing the gate at the top of the first field
Nearing the gate at the top of the first field

Opening gate panel to the next field
Opening gate panel to the next field

Crossing the field keeping the farm buildings on our right
Crossing the field keeping the farm buildings on our right

Crossing the marshy area in front of the farm house
Crossing the marshy area in front of the farm house

Just beyond the farm house we turned left through a gateway with a waymark on the left hand post, so it was invisible until we had made the turn. We crossed a little marshy area and climbed up a short slope to a stile under some trees.

This is a large field with a farmhouse and a complex of farm buildings at the far end of the field. There was no obvious path across the field but we aimed for a point keeping the farm house & buildings on our right. As we neared the end of the field there was a post & wire fence and about 30m before we reached this fence we turned right to pass below the farmhouse keeping it on our right with the post & wire fence on our left.

Turning left through the fence in front of the farm house
Turning left through the fence in front of the farm house

Stile under the trees at the top of the bank
Stile under the trees at the top of the bank

We crossed the field keeping close to the hedge on our left
We crossed the field keeping close to the hedge on our left

Crossing the field to the kissing gate ahead
Crossing the field to the kissing gate ahead

Heading for the next gate in the corner of the field
Heading for the next gate in the corner of the field

Farm track to the road
Farm track to the road

From this gate we crossed the field to the next gate in a shady corner of the field ahead and to our right. Through this gate we walked along the edge of the field to the next gate that led us on to a farm track. We followed this farm track for about 100m out to the road.

We crossed the stile and continued along the edge of the field with a hedge on our left. We continued for almost 200m to the corner of the field where there was a wooden pedestrian gate into the next field.

Kissing gate into the next field
Kissing gate into the next field

Gate leading to a farm track
Gate leading to a farm track

Farm track to the road
Farm track to the road

Joining the road, Low Gate Lane, from the farm track
Joining the road, Low Gate Lane, from the farm track

Following Low Gate Lane back to Sawley
Following Low Gate Lane back to Sawley

All Saints Church on Low Gate Lane, Sawley
St. Michael & All Angels Church on Low Gate Lane, Sawley

At the road junction we turned right and walked the last few metres back to the village hall car park and the end of our walk. The whole route had been a little under 9km and it had taken us about three hours to walk so we finished around 11.30am. Even with our early start the last hour of walking was very hot.

The road was Low Gate Lane that we had encountered much earlier in the walk. We turned right and walked along the road for about 350m past the village church back into Sawley at the road junction by the Sawley Arms.

Following Low Gate Lane back to Sawley
Following Low Gate Lane back to Sawley

Road junction at the Sawley Arms
Road junction at the Sawley Arms

Returning to the car park at the village hall in Sawley at the end of our walk
Returning to the car park at the village hall in Sawley at the end of our walk

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