Walking: Try this English landscape at its very best

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What great walking country!

There’s loads of variety on this tour of the Ripley Castle Estate, which is spread out over nearly 2,000 acres in the attractive, typically-English landscape north of Harrogate.

The estate owners, the Ingilby family, welcome visitors and have provided a huge free car park on the edge of Ripley.

This is also your chance to enjoy the delights of the village with its castle, cafe, pub, shops and ancient church on your return, thus making it a full day out.

The Ingilbys have been in residence at Ripley for just short of 700 years – in fact, 2020 will mark that particular landmark. The family claims descent from Robert de Engelby who fought in the army of the Conqueror at Hastings in 1066. They took control of Ripley in 1320 when Thomas Ingilby married Edeline Thweng, who had inherited the estate from her father.

Thomas, regarded as the founder of the Ingilby fortunes, had spent his childhood on the family’s estates around Stokesley in North Yorkshire. The family is remembered in those parts by such villages as Ingleby Greenhow and Ingleby Arncliffe.

Thomas’s star rose to new heights in 1355 while hunting in Haverah Park in the Forest of Knaresborough with his king, Edward lll. He saved the king from a wounded and enraged wild boar and was knighted on the spot. Shortly afterwards, in 1357, more favours came his way when he was granted a Royal charter for a weekly market and annual fair, thus ensuring prosperity for Ripley.

Ripley Castle, now a popular venue for weddings and other functions, was built by the Ingilbys as a replacement for the Thwengs’ medieval manor house. The oldest part of the castle, the gatehouse, dates from 1450 and the tower and battlements from 1555.

Ripley itself was rebuilt in the 1820s by Sir William Amcotts Ingilby on the lines of a village he had seen while travelling through Alsace-Lorraine. On his return from the Continent, Sir William knocked down Ripley’s dilapidated thatched cottages and started from scratch, building in stone.



6 ½ miles: Allow 2 ½ – 3 ½ hours. Map: O/S Explorer 298 Nidderdale

Use the free car park (toilets) on entering Ripley from the direction of Harrogate. Exit the village end of the car park into the road and go straight ahead through centre of Ripley, passing to right of The Boar’s Head.

On passing the primary school on your left (and with an attractive row of stone cottages on your right) there is a fork – take the left (minor) branch through a gate (open) to left of a bench.

On emerging in the B6165 Pateley Bridge road, cross it and go up Birthwaite Lane opposite and follow this traffic-free country byway for half a mile, past Birthwaite Barn on your right, to where the lane sweeps left at a sign on your right for a farmhouse B & B – STOP!

Note: This is a vital turn on the Nidderdale Way yet, inexplicably, there is no fingerpost or waymarking of any description, so don’t overshoot.

At the B & B sign, go off RIGHT along a gravel vehicle track and follow it to a cattle grid with a fork in the track just ahead – take the left branch (arrow) soon passing through a gate.

Stick with the main track as it soon bears right (arrow) and then descends through Cayton Gill Wood at the start of a lovely journey through a true pastoral landscape. Go through a gate and on to the next one with a “Private” sign – turn right along fence, soon through a gate, and onward along a fine path, through another gate and past a small brick building.

Continue between wooden fences to enter a wood, descend to exit wood and press on along the obvious path through an attractive low-lying meadow with scattered trees.

Eventually – have patience! - you will arrive at a thick wooden gate post with blue arrow next to a boulder lying in the grass. Ignore the arrow. Instead, bear left – a blue arrow appears on fence on your right – and press on to a redundant gate, pass to its right and turn left over the Cayton Beck via a stone ford.

1: Go straight ahead to enter a vehicle track and continue up the slope and onwards for a short half mile to enter the Ripley-Fountains Abbey road. Turn right and walk single file, facing the traffic - or, better, use the grass verge, walking single file. At a layby, switch to lefthand side of road and continue along the grass verge on a well-worn path, thus avoiding stepping into the busy road.

Just after passing the first properties on your right, turn left along a tarred access road, Tinker’s Lane (no nameplate). Follow the lane to its end to arrive at High Kettle Spring Farm and go straight through the concrete-covered farmyard to spot an old metal gate ahead just to the right of a small breeze-block building.

Go through and pass to the left of a huge circular slurry pit to drop on to a stout vehicle track. Turn left for about 100 yards to spot a bridle gate on your right with blue arrow – take this path down through a wood, passing to left of buildings and caravan, to arrive at Low Kettle Spring Farm.

Pass straight through middle of the large complex, between barns.

Note: In the vicinity of the new barn on your right, there should be a public footpath turning right down the fields, but we could find no sign of it. So we must take the nearest suitable alternative, as we are allowed to do by law.

Continue straight ahead past a long green shed (on your left) to the end of all farm buildings where the tarmac access road begins and, here, turn RIGHT down to a gate.

Go through and then, on passing a fence corner on your right within a few yards, go half right down the field to the bushes to root out a footbridge over the Thornton Beck. Cross the bridge and turn right across the field, passing to left of a huge tree, to spot a