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Swinton Estate Trails: Bivouac, Druid's Temple and Sole Beck

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Swinton Estate Trails: Bivouac, Druid's Temple and Sole Beck
Author: Swinton Estate, Published: 02 Sep 2018 Walk Rating:star1 Swinton Estate Trails: Bivouac, Druid's Temple and Sole Beckstar1 Swinton Estate Trails: Bivouac, Druid's Temple and Sole Beckstar1 Swinton Estate Trails: Bivouac, Druid's Temple and Sole Beckstar1 Swinton Estate Trails: Bivouac, Druid's Temple and Sole Beckstar0 Swinton Estate Trails: Bivouac, Druid's Temple and Sole Beck
North Yorkshire, Nidderdale
Walk Type: Hills, valleys and dales
Swinton Estate Trails: Bivouac, Druid's Temple and Sole Beck
Length: 5 miles,  Difficulty: boot Swinton Estate Trails: Bivouac, Druid's Temple and Sole Beck boot Swinton Estate Trails: Bivouac, Druid's Temple and Sole Beck boot Swinton Estate Trails: Bivouac, Druid's Temple and Sole Beck
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An 8km (5 mile) circular walk from the Swinton Bivouac site within Swinton Estate, North Yorkshire. This rewarding circular countryside trail takes you on a journey of discovery through rolling pastures and woodland with stunning views, taking in the Swinton Bivouac, Druid's Temple (one of Yorkshire's most interesting follies) and the ruins of Lobley Hall. This walk is part of the Swinton Estate Trails collection, published through a collaboration between iFootpath and Swinton Estate to encourage people to discover the 20,000 acre Estate with varying terrain such as woodland, reservoirs, moorland, gardens and parkland.

Most of the walk follows public rights of way, but the paths to the Druid's Temple are permissive paths provided with permission of Swinton Estate. The walk has several climbs and descents throughout, including a couple of fairly steep sections. In terms of terrain and accessibility, this is really a walk of two halves. The first half (to the ford) is easy to navigate with clear tracks through woodlands and pastures plus one stretch along a quiet lane. You will need to negotiate several gates (but no stiles) and a footbridge, and you will be sharing many of the fields with sheep. The return leg follows a more challenging route, with a stretch of streamside path which is rocky underfoot and can be overgrown with bracken, includes 5 fence stiles (with some makeshift dog gaps, but you may need to give your dog a lift) and a couple of very short but sharp scrambles (where hands may be needed). This stretch also crosses pastures that may be holding cattle. If you prefer to avoid these obstacles you could retrace the outward leg, but if you are up for the challenge the return leg is a really rewarding adventure. Swinton Estate welcomes visiting walkers (and canine companions) but please remember the usual countryside code rules; take your litter home with you, keep dogs under close control and be careful to shut any gates behind you. Allow 3 hours.

Before or after your walk, the Bistro Cafe at Swinton Bivouac (which is fully-licensed, dog-friendly and opens seasonally) provides breakfast, light bites or hearty Yorkshire meals.

The walk starts from Swinton Bivouac, an isolated site about 2 miles west of the main Swinton Park site and just north of the hamlet of Ilton. Visiting walkers are welcome to use the car park at the Bivouac site (if the honesty box is in operation, please pay the £2 per car parking fee). From Masham, head south-west along Swinton Terrace (which becomes Swinton Road) to reach the main Swinton Park gatehouse on your right. Do NOT go through these gates, instead turn right to follow the side road. Keep left at the first junction, continue over Quarry Bridge and then turn right at the next junction. Ignore a road to the right (signed to Healey) and stay with the lane as it later bends left. After 0.3 miles turn right onto the Bivouac access lane. After half a mile, turn right onto the stone access drive and this will lead you to the Bivouac centre on your left. Approximate post code HG4 4JZ.

Walk Sections

Start to Druid's Temple
Start to Druid's Temple

Start point: 54.2039 lat, -1.7252 long
End point: 54.204 lat, -1.7336 long

Leave the Bivouac car park via the vehicle entrance and turn right along the stone access track. At the T-junction, turn left (signed to Druid’s Temple). Pass alongside an old cattle grid to enter the Tree Lodge parking area. Walk ahead through the car park and fork right, passing through the line of boulders and passing through the gap alongside the green vehicle gate. Do NOT follow the obvious track ahead, instead turn immediately right onto the grass path leading you into the woodland.

Further along, the path bends left and leads you between two stacks of boulders, a sign that we are now entering the Druid’s Temple site. The path leads you to a junction with a stone access track, with the impressive Druid’s Temple ahead. The main stone doorway is directly in front of you, and it is well worth exploring inside. Druid’s Temple is one of Yorkshire’s quirkiest follies. It is believed to have been built in the late 1700s by William Danby (owner of Swinton Estate). It is rumoured that a hermit lived here for many years, but its mystical connections are probably fairly tenuous, as it was built at a time when there was a great deal of interest in Druidism as part of the emerging Romantic period. The site contains a main temple along with numerous stone formations dotted around the woodland for eager walkers to find as they explore.

Druid's Temple to Knowle Plantation
Druid's Temple to Knowle Plantation

Start point: 54.204 lat, -1.7336 long
End point: 54.2077 lat, -1.7337 long

When you are ready to continue, stand facing the temple’s main doorway and turn left to follow the stone track. This will lead you directly back to the green vehicle gate where you entered the site. Pass alongside the gate and retrace your steps, going ahead along the access track, to reach the track junction. Turn left at this point, to join the public footpath (part of Ripon Rowel), passing through a small metal gate to enter a sheep pasture.

Go straight ahead across this pasture, exit via a gate into a second pasture and turn left to follow the line of a fenced woodland on your left. Follow this fence line, leading you through a farm gate and then bending left to reach the next small metal gate. Go through this to enter the next pasture and turn immediately right, heading downhill on the grass track with the fenced woodland, Knowle Plantation, on your right.

Knowle Plantation to Broadmires Farm
Knowle Plantation to Broadmires Farm

Start point: 54.2077 lat, -1.7337 long
End point: 54.2137 lat, -1.7281 long

Taking time to enjoy the views ahead, stay with the grass track as it bends left and then right to reach a gate in the stone wall. Pass through the small wooden gate and cross this next pasture diagonally left and downhill (between 10 and 11 o’clock), to reach the next small metal gate. Go through the gate and maintain your direction, continuing downhill to reach a footpath fingerpost (just before the bottom fence boundary).

Turn sharp right, joining the Ripon Rowel public bridleway, leading you back up the hill within this same field. The path soon begins to gently descend to reach a gate with a section of woodland on your left, Hall Wood. Go through the gate and continue ahead, with the stone wall and woodland on your left. Pass through the next gate, at which point the woodland on your left ends. Now simply keep straight ahead on the grass track, passing through three more gates and then bearing right to reach a gate just to the right of Broadmires Farm.

Broadmires Farm to Ford
Broadmires Farm to Ford

Start point: 54.2137 lat, -1.7281 long
End point: 54.2151 lat, -1.7083 long

Pass through this gate and keep ahead to join the farm’s stone access track, with a tree line on your left and a fenced pasture on your right. This track becomes a tarmac access lane and leads you uphill. Towards the top, look across to your left (to the opposite side of the valley) for a beautiful view of Healey village with its stunning stone church.

At the top of the hill, you will reach a junction with a road (at a bend). Take the left-hand branch (straight ahead). Taking care of any occasional traffic, follow the lane leading you downhill, passing Stonefold Farm on your right, ignoring a side road towards Healey on your left and continuing ahead to reach a ford where Sole Beck flows across the road to reach the River Burn (which is running on your left).

Ford to Lobley Hall
Ford to Lobley Hall

Start point: 54.2151 lat, -1.7083 long
End point: 54.2088 lat, -1.7095 long

Cross the ford via the footbridge and continue on the road (which climbs steeply and then levels out) for about 230 metres, to reach a footpath fingerpost on your left, pointing to a small gate in the hedge on your right (this gate is immediately after you pass the backward facing road signs for the ford). Turn right here to join the signed public footpath to Ilton, passing through the small metal gate to enter a sheep pasture.

With your back to the gate, walk diagonally right up the slope and exit via the small gate in the top boundary. Walk directly ahead on the grass track leading you through a rough meadow. As you approach the stone wall at the far side, do NOT follow the main track swinging right, instead fork left to pass through a gateway in the stone wall. Follow the grass path now leading you ahead through a small belt of woodland.

The path leads you steadily downhill with the gully of Sole Beck down to your right. NOTE: This next stretch of route has challenging terrain and can be difficult to follow so take extra care. The path narrows and becomes less distinct as it heads into bracken, but simply continue with the beck down to your right. You will reach a fence with a yellow arrow waymarker ahead. Climb over this (using the rocks each side as steps). Dogs may be able to use the stone wall on the left to scramble around.

Just a few paces later, there is a sharp drop down (formed by an old tree) so be careful as you drop down to the next stretch of rocky path. Continue ahead, crossing a small stream to reach a stretch with Sole Beck immediately on your right. Just a few paces later, the path turns left to climb a steep bank and bears right along this, winding between gorse bushes to reach the next fence stile ahead. Cross this (there is a wire flap for dogs) and continue winding through the bracken. You will emerge to reach the corner of an old ruined stone farmhouse, Lobley Hall, on your left.

Lobley Hall to Lane
Lobley Hall to Lane

Start point: 54.2088 lat, -1.7095 long
End point: 54.2039 lat, -1.7162 long

The hall is a farmhouse that is thought to date to the late 1600s and is Grade II listed. With the Lobley Hall ruins on your left, go straight ahead to join the grass track, a welcome stretch of easier walking, with a stone wall running on your left. This grass track leads you to a wide metal gate ahead (with a yellow arrow).

Do NOT take this, instead bear left to continue on the grass track. Simply stay with this grass track winding ahead, with Sole Beck usually audible, and often visible, to your right. This track once formed the access drive for Lobley Hall. Eventually the track leads you over the beck, passes an old stone barn on your left and emerges to a lane via a farm gate.

Lane to End
Lane to End

Start point: 54.2039 lat, -1.7162 long
End point: 54.2041 lat, -1.7252 long

Turn left along the lane for just a few metres and then turn right to join the grass track (signed as a public footpath to Knowle Lane). As you reach the farm gate ahead, cross the stile alongside it (dogs may be able to use the fence gap to the left of the gate) to enter the large hillside pasture. Walk straight ahead on the grass track with a conifer plantation on your left.

The track climbs steadily and, as you reach the brow of the rise, you will be able to see the stone buildings of the Swinton Bivouac centre across to your right. At the end of this first field, go through the gate ahead and turn immediately right to join the grass path leading you uphill, with a stone wall on your right. Continue ahead, passing through a stone squeeze stile and along the right-hand edge of a second field to reach a stile with the Bivouac centre directly ahead.

Cross the stile (there is something of a dog gap at the fence corner to your left) and go straight ahead to follow the line of the buildings on your left. Climb the steps to reach the terrace for the Bistro Cafe, the perfect place for some well-earned hospitality.

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Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2018 by iFootpath and the author swintonestate and may not be reproduced without permission.


The information in this guide has been provided in good faith and is intended only as a guide, not a statement of fact. You are advised to check the accuracy of the information provided and should not use this guide for navigational directions nor should you rely on the accuracy of the weather forecast. You are advised to take appropriate clothing, footwear, equipment and navigational materials with you according to the current and possible weather and nature of the terrain. Always follow the country code and follow any additional warnings or instructions that may be available. Some walks may be very strenuous and you are advised to seek medical advice if you have any doubts as to your capability to complete the walk.

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