A 3 mile circular walk around the wooded Pennine valley of Hardcastle Crags, near Hebden Bridge in West Yorkshire. Owned by the National Trust the valley comprises a beautiful shallow river, Hebden Water with steep wooded valley sides and you will have chance to discover lots of wildlife plus some industrial archaeology along the way. If you have children with you, you may wish to bring along crayons and paper as there are several engraved markers around the site, showing the various leaves and seeds in the woodland.
Grewelthorpe and Hackfall
Distance: 6 miles
Duration: 2 hours
Level of walk: Medium View Walks Key
Why you should do this walk…
Located in Nidderdale, an area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and within a few miles of Masham – with its famous brewery, this pretty walk starts in the charming village of Grewelthorpe. The route takes in the historic Hackfall Woods, in the care of the Woodland Trust, and situated by the River Ure. There are several short climbs, and plenty of opportunities for well-behaved pooches to be let off the lead and enjoy a paddle on this peaceful and varied walk.
What else you need to know
How to get there – From Ripon take the A6108 Masham road to a junction just past the village of North Stainley. Then follow the signs through Mickley to Grewelthorpe. Ripon is easily reached by the A61 from Harrogate, Thirsk or the A1.
Suggested map – OS 298 Nidderdale; Fountains Abbey, Ripon & Pateley Bridge
Car park – roadside parking available by the duck pond in Grewelthorpe
Start – in Grewelthorpe, by the duck pond
Length/time – 6 miles, 2 hours
Terrain/difficuly – MEDIUM, mostly on easily followed grassy paths and tracks through fields, woods or on enclosed tracks. There are a couple of hearty climbs and some limited walking on quiet roads.
Dog friendliness – there are eight stiles, most of which should be easily navigated by most dogs and some other broken down stiles which are easily strode over, or have been replaced with gates. Three dog-waste bins were passed; one at the start and two at the end of the walk.
Food and drink – The Crown Inn at Grewelthorpe is dog-friendly and serves food, see Directories for details.
Public toilets – at the Crown Inn, for patrons.
Other interesting info:
The name Grewelthorpe comes from ‘Gruel’, which is a family name and ‘Thorpe’, meaning outlying farmstead. At its heart, the village has an attractive duck pond and active church. On the edge of the village is Hackfall, a Grade I Garden in English Heritage’s Register of Historic Parks and Gardens. Hackfall looks like a natural wood, but the landscape we see today is largely the result of design and work undertaken by the Aislabies of Studley Royal. In Victorian times, Hackfall was a very popular attraction. Today, short and medium-length walks can be taken through the woods to experience its attractions, which include; cascades, grottos, surprise views, waterfalls, a fountain and several follies, including Mowbray Castle – a ruin in a prominent hill-top position. After a long period of neglect, the Hackfall Trust and the Woodland Trust have restored the castle to its former glory.
- Set off along the road and head towards the edge of the village with the duck pond to the right. Just before leaving the village, turn left through a metal gate at a public footpath sign next to a dog-waste bin, and head along a green enclosed track. Keep ahead on the track while ignoring gates on either side. Just before reaching a metal gate across the end of the track, climb a way-marked wooden stile in the hedgerow on the right – some dogs will need a helping hand, while others will go straight under it. The stile is also marked by a metal post which may once have had a sign attached to it.
- Once on the other side, turn left and follow the path along the edge of the field – take care there may be cattle here. Climb a yellow way-marked stile – most dogs will have no problems with this one, and continue straight ahead on the path towards a gap in the hedge. There was once a stile here but not anymore, so continue through the opening into the next field and keep ahead on a green path towards another way-marked stile, which most dogs will easily pass through. Continue on into the next field, sticking to the green path ahead towards a hedge with another way-marked stile – some dogs will need a hand over this one. Enter another field – this one may have crops growing in it, but there is a clear path through, towards the tree-line.
- After passing a yellow way-marker post, head towards a farm gate. Pass through it and then continue diagonally down-hill, looking for a faded way-marker on a large wooden gate in the right-hand corner of the field. Pass through the gate into the next field and follow the green track to the right and then towards the trees. The track drops down-hill as it bears left, passing a yellow way-maker on a stump as it heads towards a gate with another yellow way-marker. Pass through the gate and continue slightly downhill, straight ahead towards the trees, before turning left on to a wide path down to a way-marked gate post.
- Pass through the gate or over the stile next to it, and then continue to a way-marked wooden gate and a new stile which heads into the woods – most dogs will easily go under this stile. The wide path now continues through the woods, and thanks to the occasional way-markers is easy to follow. Some sections of the woods are enclosed, while others are open but the path stays clear. After passing a sign for the Hackfall Woodland Trust, the River Ure comes into view from the right. Keep ahead, following the sign for Fisher’s Hall and ignoring the path (up the steps) to Mowbray Castle. As the path narrows and becomes rocky above the river below, duck-boards are provided and the way is partially blocked with boulders at one point. After crossing a stream using a line of stepping stones and ignoring a path up some steps to ‘Garden Features’, follow the yellow way-marker ahead on the path, as it heads slightly uphill. The river is still there to the right, and there are some pleasant views to be had.
- Keep following the way-markers as the path undulates before dropping closer to the water level as the trees begin to thin out. There is a beach like area by the river, which could be great opportunity for your Pooch to have a paddle! At a fork, take the left hand path following the way-marker towards the viewpoint. Continue uphill, winding round on the path to the top where there is a wooden carved seat – perfect for a well-deserved rest while taking in the views of the river and Masham in the distance.
- Continue on the path downhill straight ahead, as it re-joins the alternative path along the river shore. Just before a wooden kissing gate by a dry-stone wall, turn left and follow the path uphill towards a car park. Pass through a new wooden kissing gate into a field and continue straight ahead on a wide, green path. As the path climbs steadily, it follows a wire and post fence to the right, towards a new wooden gate and kissing gate. Pass through the gate on to an enclosed track, with a fence on one side and trees and bushes on the other. Pass through another gate next to a stile near a car park, on to a quiet road.
- Cross the road and turn left along it for a short distance, before turning right following a public footpath sign on to a track through the trees, in to the Swinton Estate Woodlands. The track is wide and easy to follow with a dry-stone wall to the left. Just before the track starts to climb uphill, follow a path on the left as it climbs steeply before quickly levelling out, heading towards the trees ahead. Just inside the tree-line, turn left and head downhill along a path towards a small gate. Pass through it and enter the field, following the path uphill. Once at the top of the rise, turn left and head for the corner of the field where there is a broken way-marked stile – which no dogs will have a problem with. Cross the stile into the field and continue straight ahead, with the hedge-line to the left.
- After a short while, cross a way-marked stile on the left – which most dogs will need help to get over, and head into another field, following the green diagonal path towards the telegraph poles. Make for another way-marked stile in the hedge ahead – some dogs will need help here, and keep going diagonally across the next field towards the trees. After crossing a broken down way-marked stile – all dogs will pass through this one, enter another field and head diagonally to the right, towards a gap in the dry-stone wall in the far corner of the field.
- Pass through the gap and turn left on to a road. Initially using the wide grass verge next to the single track road, head back into Grewelthorpe. At the junction, follow the sign for Ripon up the hill and back towards the duck pond. There is a dog-waste bin opposite the church, and another by the duck pond.