This is a lovely little outing on the southern edge of Harrogate, taking in the delights of the Crimple Valley and the rewarding countryside around Kirkby Overblow.
Easy-to-follow paths and not a hill in sight – what more could you want for a perfect family stroll? Perhaps a bit of sunshine – so pick a good day and contentment will be complete.
Pannal formed part of the ancient manor of Rossett, now a suburb of Harrogate, in the Domesday Book survey of 1086. At that time, Pannal was a place of little substance, no more than a farmstead or two; it was certainly not known by its present-day name. The new Norman overlords brought early prosperity to the area by building two corn mills by the Crimple Beck at the communities we now know as Pannal and Burn Bridge.
It is probable that the corn mills were operating before the estate was gifted by Henry III to the warrior Hugh Pagnell in the mid-13th century in recognition of his military services against the Scots.
This is the period when Pannal acquired its name - derived from the surname of its new lord - and its separate identity. The Pagnells were influential Normans who had been rewarded soon after the Conquest with numerous estates in Yorkshire. They were generous benefactors of the great religious houses and helped to found Kirkstall Abbey, Leeds, in the mid-12th century.
The Pagnells link with Pannal spanned one generation - after Hugh’s death, Henry III gave the manor to his brother, Richard, Earl of Cornwall, who was Lord of the Honour of Knaresborough, based at Knaresborough Castle.
Richard turned Pannal into the most important village in the area by granting it a market and fair. In 1287, he gave the avowdson of Pannal church - the right to appoint the rectors - to the tiny Trinitarian friary of St Robert’s at Knaresborough and followed this up with a large grant of land in the village.
The friars named their church at Pannal after St Robert and it is the only Anglican establishment in England to be dedicated to the Knaresborough hermit-saint.
After the Dissolution of the monasteries in the 1530s, part of the friary’s land at Pannal went to an important Yorkshire family, the Tancreds, who built a Tudor hall which survived until 1800 when it was pulled down by the new Lords of the Manor, the Bentleys, and replaced with the present Pannal Hall.
PANNAL and KIRKBY OVERBLOW
5 ½ miles. Allow: 2 ½ – 3 ½ hours. Map: O/S Explorer 289 Leeds
Park in the centre of Pannal in Crimple Meadows which lies just off Main Street opposite the church (St Robert’s). From Crimple Meadows, re-enter Main Street, cross it to the church and go down its lefthand side. Exit back of churchyard, bear right along vehicle track for a few yards and then swing left to pass through a rusty metal gate (open) and go straight across field on a good path.
On crossing field, go through a bridle gate and then go through the bridle gate ahead and go straight ahead for about 50 yards to a vague fork and take the right branch, which actually goes straight on, heading for a waymarked stile.
Cross the waymarked stile and continue along a wide track between ploughed areas and then pass to left of a clump of trees to gain twin fingerposts. Go straight ahead to emerge in the A61 at the foot of Almsford Bank on the edge of Harrogate.
DANGER! This road is an out-and-out racetrack! Traffic appears from the right - from the direction of Leeds - at speeds of 60/70 mph (despite a 50mph limit!) as cars wind up for the ascent of Almsford Bank, so exercise extreme caution and patience when crossing and do it quickly - no dawdling! Note: If you think this crossing is too dangerous, turn right along the A61 until you have a clear view of approaching traffic and cross then.
Go through a metal walkers’ gate opposite (to left of a larger metal gate) to enter premises and go straight ahead along vehicle track with house to your left. At end of this track, go through a bridle gate, through trees and straight ahead for a few yards before bearing left to metal gate with blue arrow.
Go straight across next field and through a gate with the Crimple Viaduct ahead. Continue for about 100 yards to enter a vehicle track at a three-sided fingerpost and turn RIGHT.
The 31-arch viaduct was opened in 1848 to carry the now-defunct Harrogate-Wetherby railway. The line from Harrogate to Leeds, which also made use of the viaduct – and still does - was opened the following year.
Follow a vehicle track over a bridge spanning the Crimple Beck and bear left along track to a gate and, just before gate, turn right up side of hedge. At top of field, go through a bridle gate and straight on to cross a bridge over the Leeds-Harrogate rail line.
Turn right on a good path through trees and press on for a lovely section before turning left into a wood. Now take the left branch going straight up through the trees. On arriving at a fork after a few hundred yards, take the left branch to close with a lichen-covered wall.
1: On emerging in Follifoot Road, turn left along pavement for 15 paces and then turn right across the road to a fingerpost and press on along vehicle track with Pannal golf course soon on your right.
Pass to left of a redundant gate and go straight on down right edge of field. At field end, go through gate and then, within a few yards, turn left, through gate, and cross the Harrogate southern bypass (A658) with great care (on this particular speed track, thankfully, you can see a long way in both directions).
Go down the entry drive opposite (or use new path to its left) to pass new gate pillars and then, after a few yards – with double metal gates ahead – turn right along farm track with a new barn development to your right. Stride out to approach a new housing development at Oakwood Farm and spot a path to your front left enclosed between wire fence on its left and low wall on its right.
Note: The public right of way goes straight ahead through the yard, past the new homes, but it may be safer to use the aforementioned path. Whichever route you choose, they both link up on passing the new development to continue along tractor tracks running between hedge on your left and wire fence on your right.
Continue over the fields along line of telegraph poles – all obvious. Eventually, you will see a disused footbridge ahead – bypass it to its left, passing a blue feeder, go over concrete bridge and press on up grass strip up right edge of field.
At top of field, pass to right of gate and turn left to follow a narrow path to emerge in a tarred access drive. Take the stile opposite and go straight across field, over stile, and then down left edge of field towards houses on edge of Kirkby Overblow.
As you approach a stone house at bottom of field, spot a stile to your front right (to right of house), enter road and cross it half right to a walkers’ gate. A strong path is now followed to arrive in another road (Walton Head Lane) – turn right along it for 400/500 yards to a stile and broken fingerpost on your right.
2: Cross the stile and continue by tall hedge on your right to arrive in the Kirkby Overblow road and turn left. Go past High Snape Farm (on your left) and continue for another 200 yards or so to an old box-top footpath sign and stile on your left.
Cross the stile and go diagonally right over the field in line of arrow (no path), passing between gorse bushes and crossing a ditch. Continue in the same diagonal line up the field to an obvious gap in wall on skyline. This gap is some 40 yards left of the field corner. Go through the gap and continue in same line (no path) to approach the A658.
Spot a rusty metal gate ahead – it has a grey gate post – just before the bypass. Go through the gate and turn right to a stile, cross the bypass with great care and take the path opposite. Go half left (as per arrow) to gain fence corner with arrow. Bear right along top of field by wire fence and then a hedge with the houses of Walton Park (Spacey House ) popping into view.
At end of field, do NOT enter field ahead, but turn left down the hedge for about 40 yards to arrive at a section of moveable metal fencing on your right with arrow. Move the fence to pass through and go a quarter left down the field (as arrow) aiming for the far field corner where there is a telegraph pole. Aim to the right of a prominent red-brick detached house.
On gaining the field corner, go through gap into next field and then cross field diagonally to gain the righthand edge and follow it down the field to a white house to the right of the red-brick house. Go through metal gate and along access road to the A61 at Spacey Houses.
Turn right along pavement to traffic island just before traffic lights and cross the A61. Turn right for a few yards and, just before traffic lights, turn left down a street (Station Road). Go past Pannal Village Hall, past traffic lights, over rail bridge at Pannal Station and straight on down the road, crossing to righthand side to use pavement.
Follow Station Road down the hill when it becomes Main Street. Keep on to the church and turn left into Crimple Meadows and the finish.