What a fabulous walk my friend Den and I did the other day. Was it all the wildlife we saw? Geese, herons, skylarks, curlews, oystercatchers amongst them. Was it because the sun shone yet we could see others weren’t enjoying the same?
Was it because there were no long, steep hills? The views were amazing, panoramic too! Along the Middleham Gallops we loved watching the racehorses out for their early morning exercise, such superior creatures. Perhaps all of these things contributed to what became a most enjoyable four hours walking. A little over nine miles and easy going. Please do plan your route beforehand and take a map for reference. Wear suitable clothing and footwear and always take plenty to drink and snacks.
We parked in Wensley in front of the church on the road side and set off well prepared for a long walk. Following the A684 out of Wensley towards Hawes for a little way, go over Wensley Bridge and turn immediately left once over the bridge. There’s a well worn path by the side the River Ure and we were astounded by the number and variety of birds. Took us ages to do this short stretch there was so much to see and hear. Keep going until you come to arable land, leave the river a little way and come to the remains of a hedge, go over this then turn immediately right. Refer to your map for this bit perhaps. Cut across this field to a track, marked on the map near to the Gel Pool, turn left to walk towards the Gel Pool.
Follow the track until you come to gate posts and where the river comes to meet the track. Look to your right and you will see a little gate, again a well used path, through the gate and progress up the fields. Through a little wood, on to another gate, keeping to the path to the next gate. Here the way forks, take the lower path. By this time the houses of Middleham are coming into view, eventually you will come to a road. Look across to find a blue metal gate and grassy paddock with Middleham church, St Mary and St Akelda, a few yards away. Cross the field to the church yard, walk along the flags and turn right before the church. Follow this narrow lane until you come out onto Park Lane, progress to Coverham Lane, turn right here.
Continue up the hill, leave the houses behind and onto the moor. Here you can walk whichever way you like over the moor, keep to the middle or to the track on the right. We did a bit of both. The aim is to find the geometric shaped wood, that’s the only way I can explain, on your right, at Naylor’s Hill, look for the point of a wall in amongst the gorse and leave the moor to go to a stile. It is quite difficult to find and was hidden behind yet more gorse bushes but it is there! (If you can’t find it and miss it completely you are near to the road, Hollins, turn right here and go down the road a way to pick up the trail again*) Over the stile and look diagonally left across the field to a break in the trees, just to the left of a little hut to a wooden stile. Walk through Millers Gill Plantation, it’s all newly planted, and come out onto the road, Hollins, through a metal gate. *Cross the road, again through a metal gate, and walk with the wood on your left. Once through the far gateway head for the wind turbine and the metal gate by the house, Top Barn. You will also see a little building behind the house, shown on the map as The Mount Tower, although I’m a little confused as on the map it’s shown as being quite a way from the house and yet it looked very close as we walked by.
The tower has quite a history and is also known as Polly Peacham's Tower. The Duke of Bolton of Bolton Hall, fell in love with Lavina Fenton, a singer, who played Polly Peachum in The Beggars Opera. The Duke kept her as his mistress for many years until his wife died, at which point he married her. Although she produced numerous children for him out of wedlock, she never managed any more. Polly Peachum's Tower is said to have been built for her to sing from because there came a point when the old Duke could not bear the sound of her singing any longer!
Keep going on the level of Top Barn then dropping down, referring to your map, coming out in West Witton. Cross the A684, keeping the bus stop on your right, and take the little road off. The tarmac soon runs out, turn right onto Back Lane. Follow to the end, into the fields and continue to just above Lord’s Bridge, over the driveway to Bolton Hall, to another stile, into arable land and down into the wood, Scaw Bottom. Here the path soon meets the Ure again and you’re walking through the trees, just lovely on here, and you may even be lucky to see deer also. Take care to watch where you’re walking though as there are a lot of exposed roots where the river has flooded over. Soon Wensley Bridge will come in to view and you’re back! Feel like some refreshment, there’s always a warm welcome at the Three Horse Shoes or go up in to Leyburn if you’re looking for afternoon tea.
If you’d like to stay nearby then give me Nadine or my daughter Joanne a call on 01969 663559 or check availability and book online. See you soon!