Walk No.1 Rievaulx, Murton Grange Circuit - 13 km (8 miles)

Route map from OS Open Space service

This description gives enough information to find the intended route of the walk on a suitable map. When used with the map the description should help you to find the route and enjoy the things of interest along the way. For this walk I suggest that you use the Ordnance Survey Explorer OL26 which covers the North York Moors, Western Area at a scale of 1:25000.

The walk is a circular route of about 13 km. and should take about 4 hours of steady walking plus any stops you make along the way. There are a few hills which are quite steep in some places. You will need strong footwear (preferably walking boots) and the usual safety precautions for this outdoor activity.

My description of the route starts at map reference SE 571844. This is a 'T'-junction in the country lanes near Ashberry Farm about 1 km. south of Rievaulx village and abbey, and about 4 km. west of the little market town of Helmsley on the southern edge of the North York Moors national park.

At the 'T'-junction there is a triangle of land with room to park two or three cars off the road. From the junction approach Ashberry Farm house and take the path through the wooden gate on the left hand side behind the farm house onto a track climbing up the hill with the woods on your left and pasture land falling away to your right. As the path levels out after 400m. and is turning left look out for the view of Rievaulx Abbey across the valley through the trees to the right. The path now drops down through the woods for about 500m. to emerge through a gate into a field bordering the river Rye. After 400m. the path crosses a farm road and continues for another 500m across the fields with the river away to the right.

There is a stile from the field into a more wooded area. The wooded bank rises steeply to the left and falls into the river on the right. For the next 400m. the path consists of a wooden walkway perched along the steep bank. This makes for easy walking in fine weather but the boards are treacherously slippy when wet and positively lethal when there is ice about! At the end of the walkway there is a stile into a field with a scrub covered hillside rising to the left. There are roe deer about in the whole area and I have seen them grazing near the edges of the woods

The path crosses the field and comes out onto a farm road via another stile. Turn right here along the farm road to Tylas Farm. Just before you would enter the farm yard the route turns left following a farm road through a gate and down the hill. At the bottom of the hill, about 200m. from the gate, the farm road turns right across a stream and through another gate. Here the road climbs steeply for 100m. to Barnclose Farm where the path turns left between the farmhouse and the outbuildings. It is well marked with the familiar yellow footpath arrows on a gate post into a field. The path climbs the hill keeping the field fence on the right for 150m. until both the fence and the path turn right. Here the path becomes a track between grassy banks surrounded by trees. After about 250m. the track reaches a gate into a wooded area. Do NOT go through the gate. Follow the fence, staying in the field, to the corner and turn up the hill still following the fence/wall. There is a lovely view of Hawnby hill and Easterside hill about 3.5 km. to the north.

After climbing the hill for about 150 m. there is a walkers' gate in the fence on the right. Go through the gate and follow the path over the hill towards a large stone barn about 300m. ahead. Follow the farm track in front of the barn. Keep to the left hand track and go through two more fields after the barn field to reach the corner of a large wood after about 400m. Go through the gate into the wooded area and follow the track along the northern edge of the woods, keeping the woods on your left and the fields on your right for about 1km, to the end of the woods.

Continue on the track for another 800m. to a road. At the road you can see Murton Grange Farm on the far side to your right. At the road turn left. Follow the road for 400m. to the point where the road bends left. Here take the bridle path straight ahead i.e. leaving the right hand side of the road. The bridle way follows the wall at the edge of a large open field which is used by curlew, lapwing and pheasant for nesting in the spring. At the end of this field the path comes to the edge of a deep wooded valley. I have seen roe deer, birds of prey, and once a stoat still white in the early spring, in this valley, so it's worth sitting quietly for a few minutes with your binoculars handy.

Follow the signposted path down into the valley (the signs will keep you clear of the 'Private' access tracks). In the bottom of the valley is a fast flowing clean clear stream crossed by a wooden foot bridge.

The path then climbs steeply through scrub up the valley side to a seat, called the captain's seat, about two thirds of the way up. There is a good view along the valley and it's quite a good place to stop and rest for a while. When you've got your breath back take a look at the ledge in the hillside that the seat is set on. If you explore a bit you will find that the ledge, actually it's a channel, runs around the contour of the hill as far as you can see. In fact it's a water course built over 200 years ago. At its upper end at the head of the valley it intercepts the spring source of that lovely clear stream you crossed in the valley bottom. It carried the water around the hill to supply the village of Old Byland, about 2.5 km. away.

Climb up out of the valley and follow the path south along the field edge for about 500m. to a road. (There are wide grass verges here where you could park a car off the road to start and finish this circular walk if you wish.) Cross the road and follow the path, about 20m. to the right, through a field gate keeping the walls and fences on your right continue across three fields, about 1km. to another road.

At the road turn left and follow the road for about 250m. to where the road bends left. On the bend take the stony forest track straight ahead leaving the right hand side of the road. The track is in the bottom of a steep sided wooded valley. Follow the track for about 2km. down the valley to a point where the valley is joined by a similar valley from the right and the track bends round to the right. Here the route turns left off the track to go through a narrow wooden walkers' gate marked with a yellow footpath arrow. The gate leads to a grassy area with a wide clear stream. There is watercress in a spring next to the stream and the stream is crossed by a wooden footbridge. Cross the footbridge and rejoin a stony track heading down the valley with a wooded hillside on your right and the stream on your left. After about 1km. you will see a series of three ponds on your left across the stream, where there are usually many ducks and a few swans. About 200m. after the last pond the track emerges through a gate onto a road. At this point there is a small stoned car park area. It is probably for the use of anglers visiting the ponds but there seems to be nothing to prevent walkers using it as well.

Turn left onto the road and follow the road for about 700m. back to the 'T'-junction near Asberry Farm where we started.
I hope you enjoy this walk so much that you'll want to try another one as soon as you can.

Happy wandering!
Frank