Walking: Through the land of the wartime flying heroes


Here we have the quintessential English pastoral setting – a rolling landscape of grazing land, woodland and wheat fields gently whispering in the summer breeze.

Of course, you need a day of considerable sunshine to bring this image to fruition, so choose your timing well.

This is a circuit devoid of all problems. The paths and tracks are simplicity itself, the waymarking fair to good - and the hills? No such exist in this quiet corner of the Vale of York. A day of complete peace and contentment.

Linton-on-Ouse is of Saxon foundation, taking its name from the Old English “lin” (flax) and “tun” (farm or settlement) – the farm where flax is grown. Its long heritage as an agricultural backwater was rudely disturbed in 1937 when the Government of the day – with war clouds gathering over Europe - established a bomber airfield on the north-west edge of the community.

During the Second World War, RAF Linton-on-Ouse played an important role in the war effort. It was taken over by the Royal Canadian Air Force which carried out bombing raids over Germany, Holland and Italy. In the churchyard at neighbouring Newton-in-Ouse – we pass it on this circuit – are two dozen Commonwealth war graves, testament to the bravery and sacrifice of the Linton-on-Ouse pilots.

In 1957, the air base became the home of No 1 Flying Training School producing pilots for both the RAF and the Royal Navy. Today, the air base is one of the busiest in the country providing basic fast-jet training for RAF and Royal Navy pilots in Tocano T1 aircraft.

For a full day out, proceedings could be rounded off with a visit to the National Trust’s Baroque masterpiece, Beningbrough Hall, some two miles from Linton-on-Ouse, with its extensive parkland, gardens and cafe (NT members take your tickets).



6 ½ miles: Allow 3- 4 hours. 
Maps: O/S Explorer 299 Ripon and O/S Explorer 290 York

Park in the main road at the eastern end of Linton-on-Ouse in the vicinity of the Village Hall and Linton Stores and stride out along the pavement in an easterly direction towards Newton-on-Ouse and Beningbrough Hall.

Go past Linton Meadows to leave the village. Continue along pavement, past the Linton-on-Ouse nameplate and the entrance to Linton Lock Marina on your right. About 150 yards farther, turn left along road signposted Linton Woods Lane.

When the footway finishes at houses, continue along Linton Woods Lane which is almost totally devoid of traffic – we encountered four vehicles in the next mile. After half a mile, the lane turns right – keep going to arrive at a new house on your right called Steerwood.

Continue for a few more yards to approach the next property (Linton Woods Farm No. 1) and spot the box-top sign in the hedge on your right just before silo. Turn right and go past a huge open barn with Steerwood to your right – now stay alert!

On passing the large barn, as the gravel path turns left into a riding arena – ignore it. Go STRAIGHT ON by wire fence on your right and then turn left along fence to a metal gate to exit premises. Turn right along tractor tracks to their end and go through a bridle gate between two metal gates.

Follow the good path through the trees and continue with wire fence on your right to arrive at a footbridge over the River Kyle (never heard of it? No, neither had we). Cross it – spot the old packhorse bridge to your right – and then turn left along the river which soon sweeps left. On sweeping left, spot the metal gate to your front right.

1: Go through and continue by hedge on your right to emerge in the Tollerton to Newton-on-Ouse road and turn left, walking single file, facing the traffic, and using the good grass verge when necessary.

After about 400 yards, as road sweeps left, go straight on at a fingerpost to gain a marker post with blue and yellow arrows and turn right. Now go up left side of hedge to begin a lovely journey through the fields of Ember Hill.

At end of hedge, plough on. When the vehicle track swings left to the large farm complex at Ember Hill, go straight ahead along right side of hedge. On emerging at a muck heap, go past it and then go up LEFT side of hedge ahead. Take care on this section on the uneven ground caused by horses’ hooves.

Press on steadily to emerge in Moor Lane, which links Newton-on-Ouse to the A19 and turn right and walk single file, facing the traffic. For safety, please step on to the wide grass verge on the approach of any vehicles and keep eyes in the back of your head for overtaking vehicles from behind.

Follow the road for just over half a mile into Newton-on-Ouse. Walk through the village to the delightful village green – Dawnay Arms just beyond, if in need of refreshment – and turn left along the road for Beningbrough Hall, passing the Blacksmith’s Arms and then the church with its spectacular steeple, a landmark for miles around.

Newton is a Saxon settlement taking its name from the Old English niwe (new) and tun (farm) - the new farm. It was recorded in Domesday Book as the property of Ralph Paganel or Pagnell, a powerful Norman baron who held estates through six counties of England and who was appointed Sheriff of Yorkshire in 1100.

The village church of All Saints dates from this early-Norman period, although only the base of the tower is original. The church you see today is the result of two rebuilds only 10 years apart - 1838 and 1848 - by the Dawnay family, the-then owners of the Newton and Beningbrough estates.

William Dawnay, Viscount Downe, completed the first new church in 1838 only for his kinswoman, the Hon. Lydia Dawnay, to commission a different design in 1848. This latter church was described as unremarkable apart from its impressive spire which soars to a height of 150ft and which can be seen, it is claimed, from Brimham Rocks across the Vale of York.

At end of road, just before the arch leading into Beninbrough Park, go off half right at fingerpost, past houses, into field and turn right down the field (no path) through National Trust open land.

Beningbrough Park provides the magnificent setting for the National Trust’s Beningbrough Hall, well worth a visit by car at the end of this walk.

2: On gaining the flood bank of the River Ouse, turn right over stile. Within 50 yards, at a vague fork, take the left (minor) branch to approach the river. A narrow path is followed to emerge in a wide cut-grass strip – go straight on with houses up to your right.

Go through a wooden fence in a hedge line and continue across the bottoms of the huge gardens which lead from the houses on your right down to the river, a fascinating interlude. Beyond the houses, plough on through the head-high vegetation, the path always obvious over the ground. Then go past more houses to emerge in a concrete slip leading to the river.

Turn right for six paces and then turn left across grass below the beer garden of the Dawnay Arms. Go over a stile, across the grass, and enter the wood in front.

On emerging from wood, turn right – ignore footbridge on your left – and follow the good path up the road on the edge of Newton-on-Ouse and turn left along footway.

After about 400 yards, cross a footbridge to the left of the road bridge (Linton Bridge) over the River Kyle and immediately turn left down steps and go straight ahead, ignoring the lefthand path. Cross a footbridge via steps and turn right through the riverside meadows for a very satisfying section which leads to Linton Lock, passing through a camp site just before the lock’s access road and car park.

Linton Lock comprises a lock, deep weir with salmon ladder and a marina. The lock was built in 1767 to enable barges carrying coal, lime and other commodities to move up the river to Boroughbridge and Ripon.

Cross the access road – do not enter the car park – and go through the chain stile opposite and along the flood bank. After about 100 yards, just past the end of the car park – don’t overshoot! - go diagonally right down the grass banking to a stile ahead.

Cross it and go across crop field (on our visit) on a strong path. At end of field, cross a footbridge and follow hedge on your left up to Linton-on-Ouse. On arriving in main road, turn left along the pavement to regain your vehicle.