Harrogate & District Walks
Date: 7th July 2015
Distance: 6.5 miles
Time: 2 hours 45 mins
With: On my own
Start Grid Ref: SE268538
A simple walk around the pastures of Haverah Park, a former medieval deer park situated to the west of Harrogate.
Route Summary: Pot Bank - Pot Bridge Farm - Central House Farm - Long Liberty Farm - Low Scargill Plantation - Springhill Farm - Pot Bank
Photos: Click on the photos below to enlarge.
Walk Detail: Situated a few miles to the west of Harrogate the small parish of Haverah Park has its origins in a Norman deer park that was once part of the much larger Forest of Knaresborough. Today it is home to several farms, three reservoirs and rolling pastures either side of the valley of Oak Beck.
Earlier in the year I visited the western end of Haverah Park including the so-called John O'Gaunts Castle, the scant remains of a medieval hunting lodge. On this occasion I started to the east, from a lay-by on Pot Bank, just north of Beckwithshaw on the B6161.
It immediately became clear that starting this walk straight after work was not the best of ideas. The traffic was busy and care had to be taken walking north along the road. A footpath cutting out the steep bend as the road descended to Pot Bridge provided brief respite but the section across the bridge and up to the drive of Pot Bridge Farm actually felt quite dangerous, with little in the way of verge to get off the road in the face of oncoming traffic.
It was with some relief therefore that I reached the drive of Pot Bridge Farm to commence a steady ramble on the northern side of the valley. A combination of tracks and fieldside paths led me through pastures and farmyards. Patches of dark foreboding clouds were punctuated by some bright patches of sunshine making for some nice conditions for photography.
This is a walk I'd been meaning to do for some time now but I'd partly been put off as I thought there was a strong likelihood of encounters of the bovine kind. Sure enough as I neared Long Liberty Farm, and just when I thought I was going to get away with it, I came to the first field of cows that I had to cross.
I have no problem in admitting that cows scare the life out of me so I was quite pleased with myself that I passed through not only this field but also the next enclosure. Unfortunately after that I lost my nerve and couldn't bring myself to pass yet more cows for the detour to revisit the lovely little John O'Gaunts Reservoir. Then, having crossed Oak Beck, I came across a huge pasture full of cows on the other side of Low Scargill Pasture.
Here I tried edging around the wall on the northern end of the pasture but almost immediately two calves began to follow me. I retreated back to the stile and after some deliberation ended up walking south almost half a mile along the inside edge of the plantation before I eventually found a spot where it was safe to cross the wall which had a triple line of barbed wire running along the top of it.
Having avoided the cows I finally got back on the footpath which soon developed into a lovely grassy track passing below a ruined farmhouse. This next section was the most enjoyable part of the walk with fine views east across Harrogate towards the distant Hambleton and Howardian Hills. A shower briefly passed overhead and helped produce a superb rainbow over Harrogate. This alone made the whole walk worthwhile and improved my mood to the extent that I even managed to muster the courage to pass some more cows to the north of Moor Park Farm near the end of the walk.
On the whole then I enjoyed the walk though I think it would be better in the winter when the cows are in their sheds. Apart from the cows the only other disappointment was that I didn't make the short detour to visit Ten Acre Reservoir or the impressive gritstone outcrop nearby. Both had paths leading to them but they are not rights of way and nor are they on access land so, largely due to the proximity of Springhill Farm, I decided not to risk it.