Harrogate & District Walks
Date: 22nd July 2012
Distance: 21 miles
Ascent: 1917 ft
Time: 10 hours 30 minutes
Start Grid Ref: SE287564
A superb 20 mile walk around the town of Harrogate following the waymarked Harrogate Ringway footpath.
Route Summary: A clockwise circuit of the full Harrogate Ringway footpath
1. Oak Beck as it flows under Spruisty Bridge at Knox
2. Needless to say I was nowhere near this energetic at the end of the walk!
3. The Nidd Viaduct
4. The River Nidd
5. The magnificent Knaresborough Viaduct
6. Thistles on Forest Moor
7. Wheatfield near Rudfarlington Farm
8. Time for lunch at the Traveller's Rest
9. A peek at the Crimple Viaduct
10. The gentle trickle of Stone Rings Beck
11. Unusual cloud above the fields near Pannal
12. Crimple Beck as it flows between gardens near Burn Bridge
13. Approaching the small wooded hill called The Warren
14. Wheatfield below The Warren
15. In the woods of The Warren
16. Refreshment time at The Squinting Cat
17. The lovely wooded path running along the outside of RHS Harlow Carr
18. On Birk Crag
19. Oak Beck
20. After over 20 miles back to where we started
Walk Detail: It has been 8 years since I first did the Harrogate Ringway walk. On that occassion it was very much a practise walk in preparation for the more challenging Yorkshire Three Peaks walk. This time I was really looking forward to doing the walk in its own right.
We started the walk from next to a Ringway sign, just near the junction of Jennyfield Drive and Grantley Drive. Whilst hardly the most scenic spot on the route it is worth noting that when the Ringway was first devised in 1978 most of this area, now a major suburb of Harrogate, was still fields. Within minutes we'd crossed the A59 and for most of the rest of the walk it was surprising how little of Harrogate itself intruded on what is a mainly rural route.
A lot has changed in the last 8 years - not least the fact that my digital camera now has a 16GB memory card rather than an 8MB one! One thing that hasn't changed is that (in the summer at least) some sections of the route are choked with nettles. One particular section, leading down to the Nidd, was encountered early in the walk. The path was so overgrown that it would have required a machete to negotiate. The nettles were so high that our faces were in just as much danger of getting stung as my bare calves (despite vowing not to do so after my nettle experience first time round I was once again wearing shorts).
On the whole though the going underfoot was fairly easy with the only real difficulty being the length of the walk itself. Another bonus, for me at least, was that there were not many cows on the route and in fact we didn't encounter any until we were about 14 miles into the walk.
Highlights of the walk included no less than 4 impressive railway viaducts as well as the Nidd Gorge, one of my favourite stretches of woodland and riverside walking. Other attractive woodland encountered on the walk included Crimple Woods, The Warren and the woods of Oak Beck and Oakdale Glen. Many of these places were completely new to me the first time I did this walk and likewise on this occasion it was the first time Emma had visited them. Indeed one of the most enjoyable aspects of the walk was seeing my friend experience the same sense of discovery that I felt first time round.
Of course, having both been raised in Harrogate, there were also lots of places we both knew well or at least had memories of from childhood. So it was that a lot of places we passed triggered old memories and we spent much of the walk reminiscing about a whole diverse range of things, not least of which was a rather memorable school trip to the local sewage farm!
One rather happy result of starting the walk from where we did was that the Traveller's Rest pub on Crimple Lane was almost exactly at the halfway point of the walk. We took advantage of this by having an extended lunch stop during which I consumed a rather large helping of roast beef and yorkshire pudding from the carvery. Fortunately the next ten or so miles helped me walk it off! Later, towards the end of the walk when the sun was really quite warm we also stopped at the Squinting Cat near Beckwith for further refreshment.
All in all it was an excellent day. Admittedly it was quite tiring by the end, especially for me as I'd packed a ridiculously heavy pack, including my tripod which I didn't actually use until we reached Birk Crag about 18 miles into the walk. The distance certainly didn't seem to effect Emma as much and having enjoyed this walk so much we are already planning oin doing the similarly long Knaresborough Round later on this year.