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Howardian Hills Walks

City of Troy & Mugdale

Date: 8th March 2015
Distance: 6.5 miles
Ascent: 705ft
Time: 3 hours 5 minutes
With: Rachel and Sally
Start Grid Ref: SE649727

Walk Summary:
A nice ramble in the Howardian Hills visiting the City of Troy turf maze and the mini-valley of Mugdale.

Route Summary: Scackleton - Low Moor - Dalby Bush Farm - Dalby - Hagworm Hill - Brow Wood - City of Troy - Mugdale - Potter Hill Farm - Randale Spring - Scackleton Grange - Grange Lane - Scackleton

Photos: Click on the photos below to enlarge.

The access road leading towards Scackleton Low Moor
The view towards the ruins of Sheriff Hutton Castle
One of a pair of yellowhammers we saw on the way towards Scackleton Low Moor
Sally making friends with a horse at Scackleton Low Moor Farm
The cattle churned field we encountered after Dalby Bush Farm
The lovely little St Peter's Church in Dalby much of which dates back to the 12th century
The crenellated chancel on the eastern end of the church
Snowdrops on the lane outside St Peter's Church, Dalby
Another photo of the snowdrops
This photo doesn't do justice to the long distance views across the Vale of York from Dalby
We couldn't resist having a go on these rope swings that we came across
An old North Riding County Council plaque next to the City of Troy
The City of Troy, reputedly the smallest surviving example of a turf maze in Europe
The bridleway sign pointing our way to Mugdale
The lovely wooded path dropping down into Mugdale
Rachel and Sally walking along in Mugdale
The beck in Mugdale
The short but steep climb out of Mugdale Wood
The hedgerowed path leading to Potter Hill Farm
Fawcett Wood
Looking back towards the house at Swathgill
The little valley above Randale Spring
One of the buildings at Scackleton Grange
Heading back to Scackleton along Grange Lane
Typically the sun came out as soon as we arrived back in Scackleton

Walk Detail: For this outing in the Howardian Hills I was joined by two of my oldest friends, Rachel and Sally on what was our first walk as a trio since we'd visited Tow Scar and Kingsdale way back at the end of 2008. I'd chosen the Howardian Hills because, despite the name, the going is fairly gentle and it was also a convenient place for us to get to. It also provided a good opportunity to visit one of the most unusual features to be found in northern England, a rare example of a turf maze.

Starting from the tiny village of Scackleton, which we reached via a particularly narrow road from Coulton, we initially walked along the access road to the farm at Scackleton Low Moor. Disappointingly the patches of blue sky that had begun to appear following the morning rain disappeared almost as soon as we left Scackleton and for the rest of the walk the skies remained fairly grey. Some early colour though was provided by a pair of yellowhammers, one of whom posed long enough on top of a hedgerow for me to get a reasonable picture.

After passing the farm at Scackleton Low Moor and the house at Dalby Bush Farm we encountered a muddy field which had been churned up by the resident cows. As regular readers of my walk reports will know by now, I don't like cows. However, the presence of Rachel and Sally gave me the feeling of strength in numbers and I managed to suppress my anxiety and cross the field.

A brief climb up the next field brought us to High Lane before we dropped down to another small Howardian village called Dalby. The main point of interest in Dalby is the quite lovely little church of St Peter's. Parts of the church date back to the 12th century, its crenallated eastern end making it look almost like a fortification. Enhancing the scene were the numerous snowdrops to be found in the churchyard and along the lane just outside the gate.

The highlight of the next section were the numerous rope swings attached to a tree at the top of a field near to Skewsby. We couldn't resist trying them out and we ended up stopping there to refuel with a bit of flapjack. Passing through the northern end of Skewsby we took a path through Brow Wood to arrive back on High Lane and the most interesting feature of the walk - the City of Troy.

The City of Troy is an unusual name for what is an unusual feature. It is classed as a turf maze and is one of only eight surviving examples to be found in England. It is also apparently the smallest turf maze to be found in Europe. Although the old North Riding County Council plaque fixed to a nearby stone and the more recent information board provided plenty of information neither seemed to be able to date the maze or really explain what it is for. Its mysterious origins only served to make it all the more fascinating.

From the City of Troy we followed a bridleway that dropped down into the tiny valley of Mugdale. This stretch of the walk down to the tiny beck, along the valley floor to a small bridge and then the steep climb out of the woods on the other side was one of the most scenic sections of the walk. From the edge of Mugdale Wood we took a path enclosed by an impressive hedgerow to reach Potter Hill Farm. Notices suggested that the right of way will soon be diverted but we followed it through the yard of the farm to drop down through some more woods and cross another stream.

The next part of the walk was a series of short ups and downs before we reached a track above Randale Spring which led us to Scackleton Grange. From there we followed Grange Lane back in to Scackleton. Typically the sun finally came back out again almost as soon as we reached the car. This apart it had been an enjoyable little ramble, more so for the opportunity to spend quality time with old friends who I don't see as much of as I should. Even more gratifying was the fact that they both really enjoyed what was one their first walks in a long time. Hopefully we'll get out a bit more often and explore some more of the Howardians together in the future.

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