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Harrogate & District Walks

Becca Banks

Date: 28th Feb 2015
Distance: 8.8 miles
Ascent: 420ft
Time: 3 hours 30 mins
With: On my own
Start Grid Ref: SE433374

Walk Summary:
A pleasant little ramble in the countryside west of Leeds visiting the iron age earthworks of Becca Banks and the trig point on Thorner Moor.

Route Summary: Aberford - Becca Banks - Becca Park - Old Plantation - Kiddal Lane End - Mangrill Lane - Thorner Moor - Ellerker Lane - Leeds Country Way - Potterton - Miry Lane - The Ridge - Chantryhill Plantation - Aberford

Photos: Click on the photos below to enlarge.

Aberford Bridge and Becca Banks
Snowdrops below Becca Banks
The embankment that is part of the Becca Banks earthwork
The path through the woods
Inspecting Becca Crag
Another shot of Becca Crag
A tree perched precariously on the edge of Becca Crag
Becca Hall
A recently ploughed field near Becca Home Farm
The path along the outside of Old Plantation
Mangrill Lane
On Thorner Moor
The trig point on Thorner Moor
Dark clouds above Thorner
A red kite above Ellerker Lane
Ellerker Lane
Following the Leeds Country Way through Kiddal Wood
Miry Lane
Looking towards Barwick-in-Elmet from Miry Lane
The Ridge, one of the Aberford Dykes and a continuation of Becca Banks
The thin path leading to Chantryhill Plantation
Chantryhill Plantation
A modern day scarecrow
The OS Benchmark on the wall of St Ricarius Church, Aberford
Aberford Church, the only one in the country dedicated to St Ricarius

Walk Detail: With a gloomy day forecast I decided not to head out into the hills and instead explore a bit of the countryside to the west of Leeds in an area that was once part of the shadowy Dark Age British Kingdom of Elmet. The main reason I wanted to do this walk was to visit Becca Banks part of a series of earthworks sometimes called the Aberford Dykes and which are thought to date back to the Iron Age.

Starting from Aberford (the 'Aber' part of the name a survivor from when these were Celtic speaking lands) the route was largely taken from a walk in Paul Hannon's walking guide, 'Harrogate and the Wharfe Valley'. To this I added an additional three mile loop so that I could also include the trig point on Thorner Moor.

The main feature of the walk, Becca Banks, lies just outside Aberford and can best be viewed by taking the permissive path through the woods from Becca Lane rather than following the definitive right of way which is the lane itself. The walk through Becca Woods was most pleasant with small patches of snowdrops adding a hint of spring to the leafless woodland.

The lack of greenery made it a good time of year for appraising Becca Banks. For the most part it looked to be merely a steepening slope but in places it did look more like a man made fortification with a trench below. Perhaps more striking was the sudden appearance of Becca Crag, an outcrop of magnesian limestone situated immediately next to the path and below the embankment. I was particularly impressed with several trees that had somehow survived despite growing on the very lip of the crag.

All too soon the permissive path rejoined Becca Lane which then entered Becca Park with views of Becca Hall. Turning off the access road to the hall the next couple of miles were a mixture of hedgerowed lanes and field paths. Just before reaching the Potterton Lane I spotted a long-tailed tit in a hedge but despite my efforts I was unable to capture it on camera.

At Potterton Lane I diverted from Hannon's route so that I could include the loop on to Thorner Moor. This involved crossing the A64 by the Fox and Grapes pub to a path that led me to the hedgerowed Mangrill Lane and thence on to Thorner Moor. The trig point was situated at the end of a hedge surrounded by arable land, a very different type of moor to what I am used to but on a grey day like this one it still felt quite bleak.

Continuing on I reached Ellerker Lane on the outskirts of Thorner. Here my progress was slowed by my attempts to get a decent picture of the pair of red kites that were wheeling around above me. Eventually they flew out of range and so I continued on my way through Kiddal Wood to re-cross the A64 and take some more field paths to rejoin Hannon's route in the small village of Potterton.

The main points of interest on the last leg of the walk was 'The Ridge' another part of the Aberford Dyke network and some very modern looking scarecrows in a field just outside of Aberford. To conclude I made a brief detour to visit the St. Ricarius Church in Aberford. Apparently the only church in England to be dedicated to this particular saint I got an added bonus when I noticed an Ordnance Survey benchmark fixed to one of the walls on the outside of the church.

This was a pleasant walk and while it is not top of my to-do list I would quite like to explore a bit more of the 'Elmet' area.

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