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Dales Trails

The view over Stonegrave/Photo by Arnold Underwood/Dec 2004

Ricketty footbridge over the River Rye! Not on our route /from a photo by Arnold Underwood/Dec 2004


Off the beaten track in Ryedale

This is a pleasant walk in area overlooked by many as they head for the nearby North York Moors. Extensive views can be had from Caukley’s Bank, whilst later stages of the walk follow the meanders of the River Rye.

Fact File

Distance 13km/9 miles
Time 4 hours
Map OS Explorer 300 (Howardian Hills and Malton) and OL26 (North York Moors West)
Start/Parking Parking space at the top of Caukley’s Bank, just off the B1257 grid.ref: SE 669 782
Terrain Field paths and bridleways, which can be muddy in places.
Grade *** moderate
nearest Town Helmsley
Refreshments Royal Oak Inn and Studio tearoom (seasonal) in Nunnington
Toilets None
Public Transport Hutchinsons 195 (Flexibus - not Sundays) from Helmsley serves Nunnington.
Also Moorsbus from Helmsley on summer Sundays & Bank Holidays
Suitable for all
Stiles 5

  1. (Start) From the parking area on Caukley’s Bank cross the road, and head west along the ridge – there are extensive views north over Ryedale to the North York Moors, and south towards Castle Howard. Take the left fork at Little Wood and pass through a gate. Follow the track down below the wood to another gate and the main Malton - Helmsley road in Stonegrave.

  2. (2.5km, 1½miles). Cross the road and walk left, then turn right back towards the church (Stonegrave Minster). Walk into the churchyard passing in front of the church bearing left down to a corner of the churchyard where this a stile with steep steps down the other side into a field. (Note: there have been revisions to rights-of-way in this area, all now clearly waymarked. One such is that the path is now diverted around the outside of the churchyard, thus avoiding the steps) Head left across the field to a gate in the corner by a copse. Go through the gate passing a pond to a bridge over a stream. Turn right along a broad grass field boundary. After 250m, opposite a footbridge, turn left at the second field boundary to walk to the right of the hedge which eventually brings you to a gateway and the road to Cawton

  3. (5km, 3 miles) Turn right towards Cawton, following the road round a bend past decorative (styled on polo sticks) wrought iron gates. Go past a large house, called ‘The Cottage’, at the site of the long-gone railway line and arrive at a T-junction. Turn right and walk through Cawton. At the far end of the village go right at an Ebor Way sign down a farm track. Go straight across a field to metal gates where you again cross the track-bed of the former railway. Walk along the edge of a field, round the corner, to a small brick bridge over Holbeck.

  4. (7.8km, 4½ miles) From the bridge, continue north along a broad tractor track passing a barn and small copse on the right. The track becomes enclosed by sturdy fencing and brings you to a double metal gate. Continue straight on leaving the track, and go through another gate at the foot of a hillside. Head up the side of the field through one gate, then other below Leysthorpe House. Bear right across the field below the house towards a barn and a cow yard – unpleasant under foot here! The way out of the quagmire is through another gate, if you can open it. I couldn’t so the only option was to climb over. Walk up to another gate to reach the main Helmsley road again.

  5. (8.2km, 5½ miles) The map shows a footpath on the opposite side of the road cutting diagonally across a field. There is no evidence of this path ever existing! So walk along the verge for 200m then cross over at the Nunnington turn. Walk along the lane towards Nunnington for 400m (¼mile) and then go left to East Newton. Where the lane turns to Newton Hall, continue straight along a tractor track down to the River Rye at a ford. You cannot cross on foot here – turn left along the riverbank to a footbridge and there cross the river and return along the other bank to the ford. For much of the way on to Nunnington, the walk keeps close company with the Rye and there are several ideal spots for a picnic lunch (unless of course you are aiming for the Royal Oak at Nunnington!)

  6. (9.5km, 6½ miles) The river meanders considerably. Ox-bow lakes indicate its former course, whilst its tight twists and turns suggest others will be formed quite soon. Tread quietly and you will no doubt spot a heron or two, and if you’re very lucky, the blue flash of a kingfisher. The riverside path passes under an arch of a substantial railway viaduct – all what remains of the long-closed line to Helmsley. At the next stile the waymark points straight ahead across the next cultivated field. However a slight diversion is required, left over a (broken) stile in the fence and then round the grass flood bank to a gate at the far end. Through the gate go straight ahead to cross the river by means of a metal footbridge. The path now leaves the river for a while, as you must bear right up to a gate and walk round the perimeter of Plump Wood. Go past two gates marked ‘No public right-of-way’ to reach a footpath sign at the corner of the wood. Turn left here to walk along the edge of the wood, continuing to rejoin the riverbank.

  7. (11km, 7½miles) Now once again follow the river towards Nunnington passing a couple of private footbridges – one of which is very rickety! At a gate you come to the road at the bottom of Nunnington village. If you wish to visit Nunnington Hall, continue straight on otherwise turn right up the hill to the Royal Oak. At the top of the hill by the church cross straight over the road and walk up the bridle track to regain the top of Caukley’s Bank – turn left along the ridge back to your car. (13km/9miles)

    Along the Way

    Nunnington Hall dates from the 16th Century, and was used as garrison for Parliamentarian troops in the Civil War. The estate was inherited by Lord Preston in 1685, and he set about remodelling the house, and it is in this condition that much of the house remains today.

    Most of the furniture, porcelain, and paintings were collected by the late Mrs Ronald Fife who left Nunnington Hall to the National Trust in 1952. The Hall and gardens are open to the public from March through till October.

    Arnold Underwood (Dec 2004, updated March 2008)

This page was created by
Arnold Underwood

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