This is just about the biggest sweep you could make of Harewood Park.
In fact, it goes well beyond the park limits into the extensive farmlands of the Harewood Estate which offer the most magnificent views along the lower Wharfe valley.
Take no notice of the 8-to-9-mile length of this circuit; the paths are so easy under foot, so obvious and the waymarking so good that you will fairly race round. On a sunny, blue-sky day – with views opening up beyond the Arthington Viaduct to Almscliff Crag – this is a superb expedition and well worth your consideration.
Harewood - the wood of the hares - is a Saxon settlement recorded as King’s land after the Norman conquest of 1066. However, before William the Conqueror’s death in 1088, the estate had been gifted to the Norman warrior Robert de Romille who also received the Honour of Skipton.
The estate descended to the Lords Lisle of Rougemont who built their moated manor house on the “red mound” on the northern bank of the Wharfe, near Weeton, a mile-and-a-half below the present Harewood House. John, Lord Lisle of Rougemont, one of the founders of the Order of the Garter in the reign of Edward III, died in 1354.
In 1364, his daughter, Elizabeth, married Sir William de Aldburgh and the manor passed to this great northern statesman – a leading figure in negotiations with the Scots - who built the now-ruined Harewood Castle in 1366 at the top of Harewood Bank. The castle remained in occupation until the early 17th century.
The Harewood Estate descended upon another illustrious Yorkshire dynasty, the Gascoignes, who built a 15th-century hall on a now-lost site called Gawthorpe, situated 350 yards south of the present Harewood House, between the house and the park lake.
The foundations of that earlier house were revealed during an excavation by York University which also unearthed many artefacts giving an indication of the wealth of the people who lived there. The Lascelles family bought Harewood and Gawthorpe in 1738 and lived at the old Gawthorpe Hall until they completed Harewood House in 1771. They were created Earls of Harewood in 1790.
PARKING: Use the large layby at the end of Wike Lane where Wike Lane meets the A61 Leeds-Harrogate road a mile south of Harewood village. If full, there is a second parking area about 100 yards farther along Wike Lane.
8 ½ miles: Allow 3 ½ – 4 ½ hours. Map: O/S Explorer 289 Leeds.
From the parking area, gain the A61, cross it with great care – it’s a racetrack! - to the park gates opposite, enter Harewood Park and go straight ahead with Harewood House opening up immediately to your right.
Follow the broad track for three-quarters of a mile through parkland laid out by Capability Brown in the late 18th century to arrive at the ornamental bridge New Bridge, cross it and turn left to a fork and turn right.
Follow the track for a short half mile to a two-sided bridleway fingerpost (yellow warning notice) and bear right. Press on to a 3-sided fingerpost with another fingerpost on your right. Here, turn LEFT up to Stub House Farm and press on with the location village of TV’s Emmerdale to your left.
Within a short distance, at fork, go straight ahead – do not sweep right with the access road. After 80 yards, with a fingerpost and a “Harewood Estate” green sign on your left, turn right alongside hedge. This fine path, after about 300 yards, turns left through the hedge line to continue as a vehicle track.
This is a cracking section – enjoy it! Follow the fine path, turning right alongside a wood and then turning left at a green bridleway sign at a conservation area. Stride on – all obvious – eventually making a left turn to spot a waymarked stile on your right after 50 yards. Don’t miss this turn!
Cross the stile and go along left edge of field – New Inn to your right – over a stone stile and slightly left across next field, passing just right of telegraph pole.
1: Enter Eccup Lane, turn left for 20 yards and turn right at fingerpost to pass Brookland Farm (to your left). Go through a broken wall and immediately turn right (arrows) and continue by wire fence. At field end, go through gate and bear left along hedge.
At end of this field, go through hedge line, over stile and onward along left edge of field. At field end, cross stile and turn right (fingerpost) over a raised area of ground known as The Bowshaws.
A stunning view now opens up over Lower Wharfedale with Almscliff Crag on the opposite skyline and with the Wharfe Valley winding its way leftwards towards Otley. It is said that, on a clear day, the towers of York Minster can be seen to the east.
Descend to cross a stile and continue downhill with a barn to your left and Arthington Viaduct in view. At bottom of fields, cross a stile and plough through the vegetation, past old vehicles, to a gateway and fingerpost with Bank Side Farm to your left. Turn RIGHT along farm access track which becomes the tarred Allums Lane.
At end of Allums Lane, turn left down Bedlam Lane and follow this to its end, eventually passing a stone house (Tinker Close). On arriving at a T-junctin with the Gothic-style Rawden Hill Lodge to your left, turn RIGHT and follow the road to its end to enter Eccup Lane.
Turn left and walk single file, facing the traffic, with Rawden Hill Wood on your left. On entering the tiny settlement of Weardley, use pavement on left side of road. When pavement finishes, cross to righthand side of road just before a sharp lefthand bend.
2: At the bend, turn right into Harewood Park (box-top footpath sign) and follow the tarred park road to a crossroads (The Hovels to your left) and continue on the main access road (sign: All Harewood Yard traffic and bridleway), bearing left over a road bridge.
Immediately, as main access road sweeps right to Harewood Yard, go straight ahead (yellow arrow) over cattle grid and onward along the vehicle track.
After a few hundred yards, cross over a tarred park road and go straight ahead up the tarred road opposite. Struggle up the slope to arrive, eventually, at a three-sided fingerpost at cattle grid and keep straight on to enter Harewood, passing the village hall, to gain the A61.
Turn right along pavement through the village to the main park gates and arch on your right and Harewood Avenue on your left – STOP!
Note: The popular wallside path – a permissive path running alongside the A61 and used by this column on several occasions – is, at the time of writing, blocked at its start due to renovation work on a building. So we must make use of the alternative path, kindly made available by the Harewood Estate.
Turn right through the arch to enter park and immediately turn left, past the shuttle bus stop, and onward along vehicle track, sweeping left and then right (blue arrows). This track runs into the wallside path – stride out for the final mile through the wood (A61 through trees to your left) to emerge in the cross track of the outward leg with park gates and A61 to your left.
Turn left, crossing the road with care to the parking area and the finish.