Walking: An out-of-the-way rural oasis with something special

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This circuit is a delight, weaving its way through a surprisingly-attractive landscape mainly untouched by the walking fraternity.

Field walking this may be, but it has something different, a special spark and ambience which will put a bounce in your step.

What makes it particularly enjoyable is that this is the time of year when the cloying, mud-strewn paths of winter give way to firmer ground, turning what was, until recently, heavy going into a spring-time frolic.

The waymarking on this outing is very good, the route is easy to follow and there is not the inkling of any steep ground. Sounds like a good family outing for the Easter break.

In the great carve-up of England following the Norman Conquest of 1066, the manor of Green Hammerton was granted to the Conqueror’s supporter, Osbern d’Arcis, whose many northern estates included Thorp Arch and Newton Kyme, a few miles to the south.

Green Hammerton’s most famous visitor was Henry IV – Bolingbroke - who spent a night here in 1403 after falling ill while marching north through heavy rain to subdue the Percys, Earls of Northumberland, who had taken up arms in rebellion.

The next day, the king was taken to Ripon where he was forced to stay a week recuperating. It is thought this was the beginning of the long illness, possibly leprosy, which led to his death in 1413 at the early age of 47.

Also linked to the village is one Joseph Aram who set up as a saddler at Green Hammerton in the mid 18th century. He was the father of the Knaresborough murderer Eugene Aram, a school teacher, who was hanged in 1759 for killing Daniel Clark, a young man who had come into a tidy inheritance.

THE WALK

GREEN HAMMERTON CIRCULAR

5 ½ miles: Allow 2 ½ – 3 ½ hours. Maps: O/S Explorer 289 Leeds and O/S Explorer 290 York

Park by the roadside in the centre of Green Hammerton in the vicinity of The Bay Horse. Start by walking up the side of The Bay Horse along Back Lane. Follow the lane all the way, entering farm premises (Hall Farm) and then turning sharp left with the lane round a barn corner (tennis courts open up on your right) to arrive in road on edge of village. Turn right.

Follow road out of village, sweeping right (furniture company on your left). This is Stoned Horse Lane. Go past a large layby on your left to a fork at the entry drive to Pool Spring Farm and sweep left (box-top sign) and continue to Low Farm with its wooden chalet and sweep left through middle of premises.

Press on along vehicle track for about 200 yards to a split and go straight ahead along left side of a wood (do NOT turn right). After 50 yards, follow the hedge on your left to a fingerpost – ignore it as it is out of line. Go past the fingerpost to follow the field edge.

This leads into a field corner with a section of wooden fence on your left. Go through hedge into next field and follow the hedge on your left, soon bearing left with hedge to a footbridge spanning the Pool Beck, cross it (ignore diversion notice as the path is not in place) and go straight ahead alongside hedge up the huge field to a gate at its end and enter road.

A few hundred yards to your left is Thorpe Underwood which has strong links to the Brontes. Between 1840 and 1845, Anne Bronte was governess to the Robinson children at Thorpe Green Hall – now Queen Ethelburga’s College – at Thorpe Underwood.

Her brother, Branwell, was also employed at the hall as a tutor to the Robinsons’ eldest son. He fell in love with his employer’s wife, Lydia Robinson, and was dismissed in 1845, spiralling into a life of drink and drugs which led to his death in 1848.

Branwell made a friend of the local doctor, John Crosby, whose death is marked by an obelisk in the graveyard at nearby Great Ouseburn.

1: Turn right along the minor road for a short distance to a fingerpost and gates – do NOT sweep left (as per fingerpost) with the vehicle track, but go straight ahead through bridle gate to left of main gates (blue arrow) and continue with hedge on your right.

At field end, go through double wooden gates and onward. At next field end, go straight ahead on main track, ignoring vehicle track to your right. Now stay alert! After a couple of hundred yards, as the track swings right towards a brick farm house (Pool Spring Farm), spot the bridle gate with blue arrow on your left – don’t overshoot!

Go over the field half right in line of blue arrow to find an exit in far field corner, lifting a wooden bar (on our visit) to gain a vehicle track. Take the bridleway opposite and turn right along field edge. At field end, enter next field and continue by hedge on your right. At end of this field, go through a gate, cross the vehicle track (oil tank) and take the gate opposite to continue by hedge.

Go through a gate into a dry ditch, turn left for a couple of paces to a gate and then go straight across the huge field (no path) aiming for the right end of a large complex which surrounds a harness racecourse (the York Harness Raceway).

As you cross the field, aim to the right of the long wooden fence, spotting a pile of green hay bags and a red-and-yellow post (actually, a piece of board). Go through gate to right of the hay bags and go straight on along vehicle track to pass to the right of all the buildings.

After 200/300 yards – stay alert! - as vehicle track sweeps right to a farm (Pool Bridge Farm) go through the lefthand of two gates (blue arrow), making sure you refasten gates. Turn right along fence (arrow out of line) to arrive at a half-overgrown bridle gate in field corner (there is a blue arrow on its far side).

Climb the gate (and the log!) and turn right along the Nun Monkton-A59 road, soon passing Pool Bridge Farm and then crossing Pool Bridge spanning the Pool Beck.

2: After about 100 yards, at a fingerpost, turn right through hedge and go slightly left across the large field (no path) with the winding Pool Beck going off to your right. A metal gate (a kissing gate) pops into view ahead (yellow tape).

Go almost straight across next field to kissing gate next to a big tree. Go through and slightly right over next field with a metal gate popping into view. Go through it, cross the footbridge and go forward 10 paces, past a redundant stile, and turn right along field edge, passing a fingerpost within a few yards (ignore path going left).

Continue up field edge. At field end, go past another redundant stile and slightly left over next field on a decent path. Cross a stile and press on with wire fence on your right to a metal gate and arrow straight ahead – go through and then half left over field, as per arrow, on a vague path to spot a metal gate on far side of field and then spot the stile just to its right.

Cross the stile (and footbridge) and go straight on with wire fence on your left. Go through a new metal gate (open, on our visit) and onward by wire fence with the houses of Green Hammerton ahead. At end of this huge field, go past an arrow, through a walkers’ gate and onward along a vehicle track.

At end of vehicle track, enter another and go straight ahead to enter Back Lane on the edge of Green Hammerton and a link-up with the outward leg. Turn left along Back Lane to the finish.

Learner driver Holly Ridge, who booked an intensive course with Drive Dynamics.

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