5 Walks of Christmas | 26-30 December 2019

Walk Leader: Steph Carter
Participants: 71 (total over 5 days)
Mileage: 64 miles (total over 5 days)
Walk Registers: Yes
Walk Report: Steph Carter


The Five Walks of Christmas - an amalgamated walk report.

5 Golden ales (December 26th)

15 of us completed one of the classic walks from Wetherby, following the Ebor Way across Wetherby Golf Course (the site of Wetherby Racecourse 100+ years ago) skirting Linton on tracks, lanes and fields towards Sicklinghall House then leaving the Ebor Way to proceed along Longlands Lane to Sicklinghall village, and a break. From here we walked through Stockeld Park, eerily deserted on Boxing Day as its normally busy winter adventure park was closed to join the Harland way (a disused railway line built in 1846) back to Wetherby, and the Wetherby Brewery for a welcome beer, located close to the site of Wetherby’s first train station. Despite a poor forecast we all arrived back dry, albeit with muddy feet. About 9 miles in distance.

For Collingham (December 27th)

15 of us set off for this 14 mile circuit on a dull but dry day from the site of Wetherby’s last train station, on old railway line. This was the reverse of the start of the previous days walk, and immediately took us past the sharp point of Wetherby’s old railway triangle known locally as the Devil’s toenail. Soon we passed Wetherby Brewery and headed south east out of the town passing Wetherby Racecourse, quiet before the crowds that would soon throng for the afternoons racing.  We passed Walton Cross, and on through the sunken site of Thorpe Arch Station- all that remains being some platform walls.  75 years previously, in World War 2, thousands would have commuted here daily to work in the massive munitions factories that were where Thorpe Arch Trading Estate now stands.  We continued along the edge of the trading estate, to take the rough path leading to the end of the recently refurbished Thorpe Arch Railway Bridge- closed for decades, but now restored as a pedestrian river crossing.  A brief spell along the A659’s pavement, and then Southwards across fields, and onto  Heygate Lane which  took us to the edge of Bramham village.  We walked into the village through the church yard to take a well earned break in the uniqueold people’s meeting shelter in the centre of the village.

Refreshed we continued westwards, climbing out of the village to cross the A1M on the A168 road bridge, then skirt around the Bramham Park Estate. This permissive path avoids having to walk on the parallel road, and although traffic free it was muddy underfoot from pre-Christmas rain.  A highlight of this section was walking through the site of medieval Wothersome Village, the  village building’s walls evidenced now only by lumps and bumps under the turf of the field where it once stood.  A curving track through woodland eventually brought us back to tarmac lanes, and on to Jewitt Lane which took us to Collingham Village.  A route adjustment to avoid claggy mud meant we skirted the village, and used the pavement of the A58 before dropping down through the woods to the Wharfe Riverbank which took us back to Wetherby, a footbridge to cross the river and a steep climb up the steps of Scaur bank to complete our circuit  at the Station Car Park.

Christmas Walk 3: Knaresborough (Dec 28th)

This walk, extended to 15 miles by a reroute to avoid heavy mud on sloping ground, set off from just north of Wetherby on the edge of Kirk Deighton Village. The weather was light cloud, with increasing bright breaks as the day went on.  The first 1.5 miles was on bridleway adjacent to the A168, heading north, that 12 years ago would have been part of one carriageway of the A1 northbound.  We left this to head west on a field bridleway, having to pick our way through a water logged field for a hundred metres or so, to reach and cross the River Crimple (that gave its name to Crimplene) and on into the Ribston Estate, whose Ribston Pippin Apple is one half of the crossbred apple that is the Cox’s Orange Pippin.  Here we changed direction to head  back on ourselves to cross the Nidd, then meander northwards through the estate, passing its large stately house, to pick up the Knaresborough Round, skirting Goldsborough (with views of Goldsborough Hall- home of Princess Mary who also became Lady Harwood, and initiated Christmas gift tins for all the British troops fighting in the trenches of the first World War). 

After Goldsborough we turned toward Knaresborough, eventually crossing the Nidd again on an old wooden vehicle bridge that has certainly seen better days, to climb up to meet the main road at St James Retail Park. Back down to the river, and across it, to follow Abbey Road upstream. A quick stop to see the cave of Saint Robert of Yorkshire, then on past the site of Knaresborough Abbey, with rocky cliffs, and tree carvings to marvel at, followed by the church of Our Lady in the Crag with the House in the Rock above.  A 30 minute break in Knaresbrough to reflect on all the historical sites made another discovery. One of our party had dropped their phone on the walk. All was not lost- a quick call to their son on a borrowed phone , and his geolocation told us it was in Ribston Estate.  Two of us would drive back to walk in to the estate and successfully find it after the end of the walk.

Our return was quite roady. Calcutt, Thistle Hill, and the abandoned old Follifoot Lane were planned, but on reaching the river Crimple, instead of walking along its very muddy banks as first intended, we continued to Follifoot village end, and took the permissive Inghams lane to Kitty Corner, where we followed the road into and through Spofforth to reach the Harland Way railway bed in the direction of Wetherby. Adjacent to Stockeld we left the Harland Way, to take field paths (including a very muddy first field) to Kirk Deighton to emerge in the village at the Bay Horse pub,first passing just to the north of Kirk Deighton’s Site of Special Scientific Interest as the primary breeding ground of the great crested newt in the whole of the UK.  A few hundred metres down the High Street we turned into Scriftain Lane, at the far end of which we had commenced.  16 people took part.

 Christmas Walk 4: A local walk around Wetherby from Kirk Deighton (29th Dec.)

A partly cloudy but fine winter’s day saw 14 of us enjoy this walk, starting from the Bay Horse pub at Kirk Deighton. In days gone by this pub was actually two pubs… The Bay Horse occupied one half of the pub, and a pub called the Greyhound the other. They existed side by side as one sold spirits and the other ale.   We set off down the tarmacked Mark Lane, crossing the A168 (=old A1) on a road bridge to take the fabulously named Loshpot Lane, still on tarmac, east to cross the A1(M), and turn through Ingmanthorpe Manor Farm on a track, which took us around the edge of Wetherby Services and then bent away from the motorway and out toward Ingmanthorpe Hall.  We enjoyed the tarmac of its access road briefly before leaving it on a track skirting fields to emerge near the entrance to Wetherby racecourse.  A well hidden gap in the hedge allowed us to access and cross the racecourse car park, passing the racecourse to reach the old railway line, on which we turned west to now skirt the south edge of the racecourse.   A subway under the A1(M) gives access to Wetherby, but we did not take it, turning instead along a gravel bridleway parallel to the A1(M) that took us to the River Wharfe. Here we dropped down steeply to go under the motorway, then climb back up to cross the A168, to weave our way through residential streets and down to the riverside and Wetherby’s bandstand for a break.

A quick diversion into Wetherby Centre for  the toilets was taken before returning to cross the river and turn down past Wetherby’s weir, then it’s swimming pool to reach Wetherby Ings  (to someone from outside Yorkshire, Ings is a local word for flood plain).  Here we followed the rivers meander, passing a historic predecessor to Wetherby’s indoor heated pool – its Georgian cold water bath house on the far bank.  Having followed the meander’s arc, we reached the footbridge to cross the river, then climbing Scaur bank into the Old station Car Park. Having walked the other two sides of Wetherby’s old railway triangle on previous walks today we took the third side, passing the Devils toenail to our left and turning onto the railway toward Spofforth at the far end of the triangle.  We left the old railway to skirt round the field edges back to Kirk Deighton and a much enjoyed pint in the Bay Horse. About 8.5 miles in total.

 Christmas Walk 5: A Part Ridge, from a pear tree (30th Dec)

11 of us set out from Wetherby Bandstand on a glorious cloudless winters day. As we climbed to the bridge to cross the Wharfe, we passed the pear tree trained against a river cottage wall. Our route then took us on the lesser known bridleway parallel to the A1(M) on its east side, emerging at the Boston Spa junction. Here we had to cross under the motorway on the junction’s roundabout,  and on to the nearby Wattle Syke roundabout, just before which we  crossed the A659 to head south on Dalton Lane, which, thanks to a few days of dry weather was a far less muddy track then it might have been. After crossing Collingham Moor we left Dalton lane by turning right onto Compton Lane- another potentially very muddy track lessened by dry weather.  The track turned to road at Compton, just after we passed through its livery stables, but remained Compton Lane all the way to East Rigton, taking us along the ridge above Collingham, with extensive views. 

A break at East Rigton and we headed across fields to join Wood Lane, descending towards the A58 and Bardsey. We did not quite reach the A58 however, as we took a side path up through the woods. Then descending to another old railway bed (this time the old Wertherby-Leeds line), which we followed out to Scarcroft Hill, crossing an old roman road, and passing within 200metres of the site of Pompocali Roman Village as we did so.  Leaving the railway, up a difficult muddy path, we emerged at Clive Mulhall’s Scarcroft Racehorse Stables. From here we followed Kennels Lane- a hedged track, for a mile, adjacent to, on the other side of the hedge, the horse training gallops.  When Kennels land ended we dropped down into the wooded Bramham Park estate, for an enchanting walk through the woods above a stream, which joined, in the opposite direction, the route of Christmas walk 2  to continue through more wood and then the site of Wothersome Village.  This time we did not skirt the Bramham Park Estate, but instead turned away from it, along a tarmacked section of the Roman road we had crossed previously. In half a mile we turned north,  onto the other end of Dalton lane  from that which we had walked earlier in the walk, and walking through forest on muddy track  we at last merged from the woods on a pleasant hedged lane taking us back to  Collingham Moor.   As soon as we met our outward route we turned away from it, beside fields  to cross the A168, and then the A1M, the latter by means of footbridge, to reach Clifford Moor, following tracks then roads into Boston Spa and a break in the centre of the village.

Leaving Boston Spa we joined the Ebor Way  and crossed the Thorpe Arch Bridge, and proceeded through the village, passing the Pax public house, so named as it was a pax to end a dispute between an estate owner and his workers after the estate owner had closed down the previous pub for  too much rowdiness.   

Leaving Boston Spa on a second Wood Lane, we soon turned down a green lane, Flintmill Lane, which zig zagged around field edges to reach Flintmill Grange. Although a flour mill for most of its working life, the mill here was briefly converted to mill flint, as its owners, also co-owners of Leeds Pottery in Hunslet, Leeds, had lost the flint mill at the pottery site to explosion and fire.  Despite being returned to a flour mill in later years the mill’s notoriety was that it had once, unusually, milled flint, so its name reflects that.   A couple of very muddy fields later we left the Ebor Way to turn down to the River Wharfe, and return to Wetherby along the riverbank having completed 17miles.