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Ryedale Market Towns Trail Part 1: Helmsley to Hovingham

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Ryedale Market Towns Trail Part 1: Helmsley to Hovingham
Author: VisitRyedale, Published: 23 Apr 2017 Walk Rating:star1 Ryedale Market Towns Trail Part 1: Helmsley to Hovingham Walking Guide star1 Ryedale Market Towns Trail Part 1: Helmsley to Hovingham Walking Guide star1 Ryedale Market Towns Trail Part 1: Helmsley to Hovingham Walking Guide star1 Ryedale Market Towns Trail Part 1: Helmsley to Hovingham Walking Guide star0 Ryedale Market Towns Trail Part 1: Helmsley to Hovingham Walking Guide
North Yorkshire, Ryedale
Walk Type: Long distance path
Ryedale Market Towns Trail Part 1: Helmsley to Hovingham
Length: 9 miles,  Difficulty: boot Ryedale Market Towns Trail Part 1: Helmsley to Hovingham Walking Guide boot Ryedale Market Towns Trail Part 1: Helmsley to Hovingham Walking Guide
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IMPORTANT NOTE: This is a linear walk that forms part of a long distance trail. If you intend to walk this stretch as a stand-alone route, there is no suitable public transport for the return leg, so you would need to use a taxi.

A 9 mile (14.5km) linear walk from Helmsley to Hovingham in North Yorkshire, forming the first part of the Ryedale Market Towns Trail. The route heads south along the banks of the River Rye, through pastures and crop fields, crossing the river via the footbridge alongside the fish farm and heading south to Oswaldkirk. From here the trail continues along the Ebor Way, following quiet tracks through Cawton and on to the idyllic village of Hovingham.

ABOUT: The Ryedale Market Towns trail is a 67-mile (108km) long-distance circular trail, created to allow walkers to enjoy the highlights of Ryedale, visiting each of the five market towns along the way. It is published through a collaboration between iFootpath and Ryedale District Council. For more visitor information on the area including events and accommodation, go to www.VisitRyedale.co.uk

ACCESS: The walk is relatively flat for the most part, with just a couple of long but steady gradients. Some of the grass paths can get muddy at times. You will need to negotiate several single bridle gates, a couple of kissing gates, some footbridges and 2 stiles. The first stile has a very generous adjacent dog gate, but the following one has tighter wooden fence surrounds (suitable for small dogs to squeeze through but larger dogs may need a lift over). You will cross many sheep pastures, one pasture with both horses and sheep, plus two cattle pastures, so take particular care with dogs. Approximate time 4.5 hours.

LOGISTICS: If you are completing the whole 67-mile trail, you can arrange accommodation at both ends, with plenty of choices in Helmsley and the Worsley Arms Hotel in Hovingham village. If you are walking this stretch as a stand-alone 9-mile walk, you would need to catch a taxi back to Helmsley, as the bus journey would involve three changes and so is not practical.

FACILITIES: There are public toilets in Borogate (just south of Helmsley Market Place at the start of the walk). If you are looking for refreshments, there are lots of options in Helmsley at the start of the walk (including places to buy picnic supplies), a pub in Oswaldkirk along the way, and you will find a tea room, bakery, coffee house, pub and hotel all within Hovingham village at the end of the walk.

OS Maps: Explorer OL26 North York Moors Western Area and 300 Howardian Hills and Malton. This walk follows public footpaths and bridleways which cross private and public land. Please respect people’s privacy, keep dogs under control and remember the Countryside Code.

GETTING THERE: The walk starts in the Market Place in the centre of Helmsley. If you are coming by car, long stay parking is available in the Cleveland Way Car Park. Approximate post code YO62 5AT. From the car park, simply follow the signs to the Market Place. If you are coming by public transport alight at the bus stops in Market Place. For help with planning your journey by public transport please visit www.traveline.info.

Walk Sections

Start to National Park Depot
Start to National Park Depot

Start point: 54.2463 lat, -1.0616 long
End point: 54.2424 lat, -1.0531 long

The walk begins in the Market Place, directly outside the library and town hall. Standing with your back to the library, walk straight ahead across the centre of the Market Place to reach the road at the far side (A170 to Thirsk). Turn right along this and as you reach the corner of the Market Place use the pedestrian crossing to swap to the left-hand pavement. Continue along this road, passing the entrance to Helmsley Arts Centre on your left. Ignore the side road, Buckingham Square, on your right and just before you reach the river bridge, turn left into Ryegate.

As you draw level with the side road called Pottergate on your left, turn right into Sawmill Lane (signed as a public footpath and part of the Ebor Way). Follow this access lane ahead, passing some properties and then the premises of Thomas the Baker on your left. Continue for a stretch with the River Rye on your right and then on past a few more industrial units. An industrial area has existed here for several centuries, using the water to power a variety of mills and for tanning. Pass Duncombe Park sawmill on your right and you will reach the North York Moors National Park Depot also on your right.

National Park Depot to Railway Bridge
National Park Depot to Railway Bridge

Start point: 54.2424 lat, -1.0531 long
End point: 54.2356 lat, -1.0336 long

Keep ahead for a few more paces and then turn right onto the stone track leading you behind the depot (still signed as the Ebor Way). When the workshop walls on your right end, you will come to a fingerpost ahead. Turn right (still on the Ebor Way) and this stone track leads you to a field gate. NOTE: This next field is likely to be holding horses and sheep. Pass through the gate to enter the pasture and walk straight ahead on the track, following the line of fence and trees on your left.

Soon, when a low brick wall begins on your left, fork right across the grass to reach the fence immediately in front of the River Rye. Bear left and follow the grass riverside path with the river running on your right. Cross the stream inlet via the gated wooden bridge and then cross a second gated wooden bridge to enter a sheep pasture. Stay on the riverside path and, at the far end of the sheep pasture, cross the stile (with adjacent dog gate) to join the narrow path which leads you between the river on your right and the water treatment works on your left.

Further along, the path continues directly alongside a large crop field on your left. Just before the end of the crop field, fork right to continue on the path through the green margin. Pass through the next gateway, continue alongside a second crop field to reach a stile. NOTE: This next pasture is likely to be holding cattle.

Cross the stile to enter the cattle pasture and turn immediately left, following the line of the fence on your left. At this point in its journey, the River Rye performs several meandering curves across to your right. Before the top of the field, bear right to re-join the riverside path and a little further along bear left to reach a gate in the top fence line. Pass through this gate and the next one to enter a sheep pasture. On your left, you will see an old railway bridge.

Railway Bridge to River Bridge
Railway Bridge to River Bridge

Start point: 54.2356 lat, -1.0336 long
End point: 54.2301 lat, -1.032 long

The railway bridge here once carried the North Eastern Railway Line between Thirsk and Pickering. Turn left towards the bridge but do NOT pass under it. Instead, turn right immediately beforehand, following the line of the fence and old railway on your left (passing through a couple of gates within the sheep holding pens if necessary). Just a few metres along, fork right (at about 1 o’clock) across the pasture to reach a field gate set within the right-hand fence line (close to the corner where the fence steps back to the river).

Pass through this gate and walk ahead to join the pretty grass track with the river running on your right. At the end, pass through a gateway to reach a junction with a stone access lane. Turn right along this and it will lead you to the entrance for a fish farm. Immediately before the entrance, fork right through a gate to join the path running along the top of the embankment with the fish farm on your left. (NOTE: Take care with children and dogs as the grass bank on the left leads directly into the farm’s waterways). Towards the end of the farm, turn right over the footbridge across the River Rye.

River Bridge to Sproxton Junction
River Bridge to Sproxton Junction

Start point: 54.2301 lat, -1.032 long
End point: 54.2246 lat, -1.0494 long

At the far side of the bridge, a gate leads you into the next sheep pasture. Walk straight ahead across this pasture, passing through the gap in the small tree line ahead. Immediately after the tree line, turn left and follow the grass path (with a fence on your left) to reach a bridle gate in the pasture corner. Pass through this and go ahead (still with a fence on your left) for just 25 metres to reach a bridle gate on your left.

Turn left through this gate and bear right, heading uphill and following the hedge line on your right. This grass track leads you to a wide farm gate ahead (with the corner of Ness Great Wood on your left). Go through the gate into the sheep pasture and follow the obvious vehicle track winding uphill. (Remember to take time to glance behind to enjoy the views). At the top of the slope, ignore the track which swings right towards the farm, instead keep ahead staying fairly close to the fence on your left. Follow the fence line as it swings away from the woodland to reach the pasture corner, with a waymarked field gate on your left.

Turn left through this gate and then turn immediately right onto a path which soon merges with a stone vehicle track. Stay with this track downhill, crossing a stream and heading uphill past a crop field on your right. You will reach a staggered T-junction with another stone track (this is the access track for Sproxton Hall which is across to your right).

Sproxton Junction to Leysthorpe Lane
Sproxton Junction to Leysthorpe Lane

Start point: 54.2246 lat, -1.0494 long
End point: 54.205 lat, -1.0412 long

At this junction, turn sharp left to follow the Ebor Way towards Oswaldkirk. Follow the track ahead, passing a Woodland Trust sign for Robson’s Spring Wood. Later, within this woodland on your left, you will pass a handy bench (is it time for lunch yet?!) that commemorates the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012. 60 metres later, just as you emerge from the woodland, you will see a fingerpost. Turn right here to follow the Ebor Way, passing through a bridle gate into a grass field.

Walk straight ahead, following the right-hand field edge downhill, and pass through a bridle gate to enter a second field. Continue ahead, along the right-hand edge of this second field. At the bottom, ignore the gate ahead, instead bear left to follow the bottom boundary of this same (second) field. Ignore the wooden gates (and bridleway arrows) on your right, instead continue to the field corner and go ahead through the field gate. Go straight ahead along the bottom boundary of this third field, with a fenced woodland on your right.

Go through the next bridle gate ahead and continue straight on, still following the woodland boundary wire fence on your right. At the end of the woodland, you will find a bridle gate on your right. Pass through this to reach a crop field. Follow the field-edge grass path ahead, right and then left. At the end of the first field, cross the stream and continue ahead on the grass path with a crop field on your left and a hedgerow on your right. In the corner, turn left along the top boundary then turn right heading uphill once again. Merge with a farm access lane, continuing ahead and uphill. At the top, you will come to a junction with the B1257, Leysthorpe Lane.

Leysthorpe Lane to Cawton Village
Leysthorpe Lane to Cawton Village

Start point: 54.205 lat, -1.0412 long
End point: 54.1833 lat, -1.0229 long

If you wish to take a small detour into Oswaldkirk (the Malt Shovel has limited opening hours but usually serves lunch every day except Wed – correct Apr 2017), go straight ahead at this junction and then follow the signed footpath (left then right) that leads you into the village whilst avoiding the road. Otherwise, for the main route, turn left along the grass verge of the B1257. After about 700 metres, you will see a black and white distance marker set into the grass, declaring that you are currently 12 miles from Malton and 4 miles from Helmsley. Ignore the footpath on the right here, instead continue on the grass verge for a further 300 metres (ignoring the East Newton footpath on the left) to reach the stone buildings of Birch Farm on your right.

Cross over the road to turn right into the entrance drive, signed as the Ebor Way to Cawton. Pass the farm house on your right and keep ahead, passing through a bridle gate alongside the vehicle gates. Follow the concrete track steadily downhill to reach a T-junction. Turn left and, in 100 metres at the next T-junction, turn right, passing through a bridle gate to join a stone track. Navigation becomes simpler for the next stretch. Keep ahead along this stone track, ignoring any side branches.

After 1.4km, the stone track terminates with a concrete bridge (over a small river) visible ahead. Cross this bridge and turn left onto a field edge path, with the river on your left. Glance back over your left shoulder to notice the beautiful brick arch structure of the original bridge. In the field corner, stay with the boundary path which turns right and, at the field end, you will reach a junction with a farm track.

Go through the gate ahead and cross the crop field just slightly to the left (about 11 o’clock) to reach the hedge-lined track visible at the far side. Pass through the gate and join the vehicle track leading you gently uphill. You will emerge to a T-junction with the road at the edge of Cawton village. Note the village sign mounted on an old mill stone here, as you will be looking for its identical sister as your next landmark at the far side of the village.

Cawton Village to Spa House
Cawton Village to Spa House

Start point: 54.1833 lat, -1.0229 long
End point: 54.1781 lat, -1.0009 long

Turn left through the village, passing the aptly named Folly Hall and Cawton Hall both on your right. At the far end of the village, where the road swings left, you will see the matching Cawton mill stone sitting on a grass triangle. Leave the road here and go straight ahead onto a stone vehicle track, passing Spring Farm on your right. Follow this track over a stream, to reach a fingerpost on your right. Go straight ahead on the vehicle track, signed as the Ebor Way to Hovingham.

Follow the track ahead, first with a woodland on your left and then on with a hedgerow on your left, for 0.6 miles. At this point the track swings right and then left, passing Spa House on your left. This villa was built in 1835 as a health spa, attracting tourists to enjoy the local spring water with its sulphursodaic character.

Spa House to End
Spa House to End

Start point: 54.1781 lat, -1.0009 long
End point: 54.1724 lat, -0.979 long

Stay ahead on the vehicle track with a hedgerow on your left and crop field on your right. At the end of this field, stay with the main track as it swings right and at the next field corner, turn left (still following the main track). Now simply keep ahead on the track, ignoring any paths to the side, and you will come to a wooden gate ahead (alongside a playground). Go through the gate and turn right along the rough lane, heading for the church tower visible ahead.

You will come to a T-junction with a pretty stream, Marr’s Beck, running in front of you. Turn left along the lane with houses on your left and the stream on your right. Ignore the first stone bridge across the stream and about 60 metres later, turn right across a footbridge alongside the ford. You will emerge into Hovingham village, with Hovingham Bakery and Spa Tea Rooms on your right.

Bear slightly left (11 o’clock) to join the pavement running along the right-hand side of the main road through the village (passing a small green with a stone cross on your right). Across to your left you will pass the village bus stop, the village pub (The Malt Shovel) and then Hovingham Village Hall, where this stretch of the Ryedale Market Towns Trail ends.

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network Ryedale Market Towns Trail Part 1: Helmsley to Hovingham Walking Guide Original GPX source file

Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2017 by iFootpath and the author visitryedale 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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