Twenty-five Cltheroe Ramblers enjoyed a weekend in Harrogate with three walks totalling thirty miles and led by James Jolly.
They used public transport on all three days. On the first day they alighted the bus at the village of South Stainley and walked a semi-circular route around to Ripon, passing through Studley Deer Park, home to 500 wild deer. The crop-filled fields were a delight, as the footpaths had been retained through the fields, and they walked surrounded by barley and meadows.
They passed near Fountains Hall, a Jacobean mansion, built between 1598 and 1604, partly with stone from the Abbey ruins. The route also took them past the Anglican Church of St Mary’s, commissioned in 1870. Four services a year are held there, with occasional weddings granted special permission.
The Chorister’s House next to the Church was built in 1873 to house a music school, and is now holiday accommodation, run by the Estate. Lunch was taken in the sunshine, with a magnificent view of Studley Lake, before following the River Skell over attractive stone bridges, through the lovely village of Studley Roger and Hell Wath Nature Reserve and on into Ripon. Very black clouds accumulating over the last couple of miles failed to deliver any rain to ruin spirits.
For the second and third days, they covered the “Harrogate Ringway” a 20-mile circular walk around the edge of Harrogate. The first section went though woods and along the edge of Harlow Carr Gardens, then swung around the south of Harrogate using lanes and field paths to Knaresborough, entering the town along the River Nidd, below the 12th century castle ruins.
The final day’s walk started at Knaresborough, and followed paths through Spring Wood and Bilton Banks down into the Nidd Gorge, a deep ravine with sheer, tree covered sides. This proved to be very muddy, but magnificent. Once away from the gorge they followed field paths to Spruisty Pack Horse Bridge over Oak Beck, actually a Grade II-listed building in the beautiful village setting of Knox, before arriving back at the start point in Harrogate, having completed the full 20-mile circuit. The weekend had been very enjoyable for all.