A meandering walk from Coxwold to Kirkham Priory through the Howardian Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (ANOB) taking in many of its beautiful villages on route.
From the crossroads in the centre of Coxwold walk up the hill towards St Micheal's Church. Beyond the church there is a wide entrance to Church Farm. Take the footpath through the farm leading to a farm gate and into open fields. Follow the field track taking the left fork heading down the hill. The path crosses over the dismantled railway line before joining the Coxwold to Husthwaite road.
Turn left walking back towards Coxwold until you see a field gate on the right hand side. Go through the gate, cross the bridge over Green's Beck and turn right keeping to the edge of the field up to Mill Beck. Cross Mill Beck via the foot bridge and head south following the hedge to your left. The path continues with a series of stiles up to High Leys Farm and cycle route No 65 again.
Keep looking back because the views are excellent towards Coxwold and the Kilburn White Horse to the north, the Yorkshire Dales to the west and Byland Abbey and Ampleforth to the east.
Being aware of dogs and tractors continue southish along the minor road over an open field. At the point at which the hedges appear on both sides of the lane turn left onto Beacon Banks. Again excellent views once you are beyond Beacon Banks Wood. The wide track continues down into the top of Husthwaite.
A quick left, right across the road leads to a stile into a small field. There are two exits to the field one in the bottom right taking you down towards the triangular green in the centre of the village and the other centre left which is the continuation of the walk.
Cross the road to go through a white farm gate....
...the walk descends to a ford at which point it picks up a track on the other side to climb out of the dip. The route then crosses a minor road and continues along a tarmac single track lane past Yeoman Course House and a series of agricultural buildings. There is another fine vista, this time to the south across the Vale of York and beyond. The lane shortly brings you on to the green in Oulston.
Keep to the left hand side of the green to cross the main road through the village opposite Oulston Hall. This is where the walk makes its first brief encounter with the Foss Walk as they both go down the farm access road to the left of the hall.
The path crosses the stream that is to be the River Foss and rises through two farm gates and past a bench to turn right towards Oulston Resvervoir. Although there is no direct access to the water a quick hop on to the dam to take in the view we think is OK? But we didn't tell you?
Because Pond Head is a riding stable this section can become a little rutted with hoof prints but not for long as one path becomes two separating walkers from riders. The short climb up to the left of the house indicates a footpath diversion. This diversion has been in place now for many years and skirts right around the back of the house and outbuildings before returning by way of a grazing field to the head of the reservoir.
Once out of the wood keep to its edge ignoring the first path off to the right. Still keeping to the woods edge the path eventually strikes off across the fields to Yearsley. Cross directly across the road and out of the village past Clarence House Farm and take the path heading towards the corner of Peel Wood where it enters and turns right.
Emerging out of the wood turn left along its edge and descend towards Peel Farm. The broom in blossom is supberbly heady in the flowering season in this valley. Peel Farm road is utilised to get to the road and then a footpath cuts the corner to get to the Post Office.
Bransby Post Office is a pleasent suprise and next year they're planning a small cafe so an even more pleasent surprise will await. There's already a picnic table outside.
The walk utilises the minor road to the right of the post office all the way to the turn for Snargate Farm. Pick up and follow the footpath to Stearsby. Enter the small hamlet and turn right. The road turns into the track shown below that goes past the lakes on the right hand side and gentle climbs up into Skewsby.
Walk right through the village to a T ish junction at the end and turn left. Continue up this road passing the very small dairy on the left before turning at the footpath sign into Brow Wood. The path at present doesn't look to inviting but follow it through and up onto a lane.
Turn left and soon before your very eyes you will see the "City of Troy" an ancient maze cut into the grass verge on the right hand side.
Leave the road by way of the bridleway to the right towards the western corner of the Great Plantation. Turn right down the green lane into Mug Dale and into a small area within the Howardian Hills hidden away and rarely visited by the walker. There are some pleasent suprises.
At the end of the green lane you are funnelled into the wood. Carry on straight although you may be tempted by the path off to the right. As you descend further into the dale a series of round willow enlousures start to appear on the right hand side. They catch your eye and draw it towards water at the top end of Randale Bog.
The path becomes a track again going left along the bottom of Mugdale Wood to join the tarmac road that leads to Potter Hill Farm. Utilise this to cross the stream before heading off into and up through the wood on the left. Do not go up the road. Climbing through the wood the path passes through an old stone wall before following it up to the top.
The way remains under the canopy on the edge of the wood and on the edge of a steep drop into the valley to the left. There are many Horse Chestnut and Crab Apple trees lining the edge of the wood here. Fairly soon you take a bridlepath off to the right that takes you down to Potter Hill. There are extensive views east from here.
On the approach to Potter Hill Farm there is a sign on the left "Please Slow Down Children and Dogs They Both Bite"! We have seen neither but we did see a fantastic bull with great big horns all made out of willow!!!
Having gone past the ranch the path may be obscured by washing on the line. There is a wooden gate through the fence
Down into Coulton through a swing gate. Turn right and find another swing gate on the left at the very end of the village. The Howardian Hills sign showing Hovingham as the destination for the path seems to point in the wrong direction but thats because its showing the paths initial heading. Shortly after entering the field the path curves around to the left and does head in the right direction.
Take the footpath to the left into Hovingham Park crossing the stone bridge and take in the view of Hovingham Hall. The track goes up the hill and through a field gate. Follow the fence on the right down to a style in the corner of the field. The path then follows a line of newly planted trees takeing you east past Home Farm and into Hovingham itself. There is a bakery and tea room, The Malt Shoval, The Worsley Arms Hotel and Inn Travel in Hovingham.
The Howardian Way now joins with the Ebor Way and leaves the village by way of the Terrington Road. A clear sign indicates the route off to the left along a green lane and as the walk climbs gradually out of the village vista open up in every direction.
The track continues into the South Wood (note the two cast iron fence posts on the right) crossing one crossroads before coming to a fork. The right hand fork is clearly marked with two arrows but it is the left hand fork that both the Howardian Way and Ebor Way take.
Further into the wood the Centenary Way joins from the left and the track descends towards Hollin Hill Bog.
Ox Pasture Wood