What a lovely little circuit! Easy going, on the level, good waymarking, plenty of variety, nice scenery and hardly a soul in sight (not counting the odd golfer near the finish).
Just the job for all the family to walk off the Christmas pudding. Go on – give it a go!
Much of this walk journeys through lands once owned by one of the great dynasties of the north, the Gascoignes, who arrived on these shores from France in the Middle Ages in the retinue of Eleanor, Duchess of Aquitaine, wife of Henry II (reigned 1154-1189).
The Gascoignes first appeared in Yorkshire when they acquired property at Kirkby Wharfe, near Tadcaster, early in the 13th century. They then began to spread their wings, purchasing lands at Harewood and Gawthorpe, a lost settlement where the lake is now situated in Harewood Park.
In the 14th and 15th centuries, they extended their holdings to east Leeds, buying Lazencroft (present-day Manston) and neighbouring Barnbow together with many more properties, including Lofthouse (Wakefield), Arthington and Burton Leonard.
Their main family seat was the long-demolished Barnbow Hall at the northern end of Barnbow Wood which we pass on this walk. The Gascoignes abandoned Barnbow Hall in the early 1700s – it was pulled down in 1720 - and their main family seat then became neighbouring Parlington, which they had purchased from Thomas, Lord Wentworth, in 1546.
In 1825, Richard Gascoigne of Parlington Park persuaded the owner of the adjoining Lotherton Estate, Lamplugh Raper, to sell and, from 1843, both properties were occupied by two branches of the Gascoigne family. In 1905, Col. Frederick Gascoigne, of Lotherton Hall, inherited the Parlington estate from his aunt and moved many furnishings from Parlington Hall to Lotherton which became the family home.
Parlington Hall then fell into disrepair and was demolished in the 1950s. The last of the Gascoignes to occupy Lotherton was Sir Avery Gascoigne, one-time British ambassador to Russia and Japan. On his death in 1970, he bequeathed Lotherton to the city of Leeds.
PARKING: Park in Barrowby Lane, just north of the A642, at the top of Garforth Main Street. Barrowby Lane is accessed via the traffic lights at the top of Main Street.
GARFORTH and BARNBOW WOOD
5 miles: Allow 2 – 3 hours. Map: O/S Explorer 289 Leeds
Set out along Barrowby Lane in a westerly direction and follow lane to its end and then go straight on along broad vehicle track. At its end, turn left between boulders and yellow posts into trees and follow this gorgeous path through edge of wood, the joy eventually being tempered by noise from the M1.
Cross the M1 and turn right and follow the good track, over the Leeds-York-Selby railway, down to Shippen House Farm. Go through metal gate (open, on our visit) just before the farm and immediately turn left along unmade road which soon becomes tarred (Manston Lane).
Press on along the road for about 600 yards to pass a white house (Lazencroft Farm) on your right. Within 50 yards – don’t miss it! - turn right through hedge at broken fingerpost and then turn left and then, after 30 yards, at a vague fork with green fencing ahead, go half right.
This path develops into a cracker – follow it to where it splits (not too obvious) and take the lesser, lefthand path (although, if you miss the split, the main path leads to the same spot). Both paths lead, eventually, to a kissing gate and a bridge on your left over the Cock Beck. Ignore kissing gate!
1: Turn left over the bridge for 20 yards only and then turn right through kissing gate and take the lefthand path to gain a tall yellow marker at a cross path. Take the path opposite (arrow), under power cables, and, soon, over a cross track and go straight ahead towards a wood in distance with Barnbow Wood to your left.
In the field at the northern end of Barnbow Wood is the site of Barnbow Hall, ancient seat of the Gascoignes until they left in the early 1700s to make their nearby estate of Parlington their main home. Barnbow Hall was demolished in 1720.
Go through a kissing gate to right of a metal gate and follow the fine path left by the farmer up to a wood. At end of this path, turn left to a gate. Do NOT go through. Instead, bear right through the wood on a strong track for 60/70 yards and then turn right (waymark) into wood, pass through, enter a crop field and go straight across on path left by farmer.
On crossing this huge field, go ahead to a kissing gate to left of double metal gates and continue to a tall marker post, crossing a sleeper-plank bridge over a ditch just to the left of the marker post. Now go half right on a decent path towards a wood. Enter the wood over two stiles at a tall marker – Garforth golf course to your right – and turn left at 3-sided fingerpost.
After a few hundred yards, spot a post on your right with “18” on it. Stay alert! Count out 30 paces and look out keenly for a low-level yellow marker to right of path. Also, spot the notice on tree recounting the history of an ancient horseshoe unearthed on the golf course.
Step right to gain the low-level marker and then go straight ahead towards the club house along right side of the hedge, passing No. 18 and a sign reading: Garforth Golf Club established 1913.
2: After 50 yards, notice the tall marker in hedge on your left. Here, go a quarter right over the course – check for flying golf balls! – towards trees to root out a yellow marker post with the club house to your left.
Now follow the line of yellow markers across the course, always looking left and right before crossing the fairways. At the last marker, continue in the same line to gain the edge of the course (tall marker), enter a tarred access lane (Ellis Lane) and turn left.
At Barwick Road, turn right and walk single file, facing the traffic, for about 400 yards, past a narrowing in the road, to fingerpost on your left where road turns right. Take this path and go straight across the field to the M1.
At M1, turn left below the motorway banking for 100 yards to a 3-sided fingerpost and bear right to continue by the motorway and then turn right under the road. Now bear right with a good path, soon passing a bridleway fingerpost, and press on through trees and then along left edge of field.
At end of field, go through a riders’ gate and onward along a good path towards a white house. On striking a broad vehicle track before the white house, turn right – now stay alert! After a short distance, spot the name of Lowside Cottage on your right and then, after 15 paces, turn left up side of hedge (hedge should be on your right).
At end of field, continue straight on along a path enclosed by hedges to the railings ahead guarding the railway line. STOP! LOOK! LISTEN! before crossing the line and then go straight ahead to enter an estate of bungalows on edge of Garforth.
Go straight on to just before arriving in the A642 and turn right (Town End nameplate on house wall). Cross Barwick Road to regain Barrowby Lane and your vehicle.