Howardian Hills Walks
Date: 18th Mar 2014
Distance: 5.3 miles
Time: 2 hours 45 minutes
With: On my own
Start Grid Ref: SE536773
A pleasant walk on the western fringe of the Howardian Hills with big views of the Hambleton escarpment from Beacon Banks.
Route Summary: Coxwold - Coxwold Park House - Angram Hall - Baxby Manor - Husthwaite - Beacon Banks - High Leys - Mill Beck - Coxwold
Photos: Click on the photos below to enlarge.
Walk Detail: Although starting from the lovely village of Coxwold, which sits just within the south-western boundary of the North York Moors National Park, much of this easy walk was spent on the western edge of the Howardian Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
This was my second day off in a row and after a rather overcast walk in the North York Moors the previous day I was expecting to spend a frustrating day indoors as the forescast was for rain most of the day. As it happened small patches of blue sky started to appear over Harrogate after lunchtime so I quickly slung my boots and camera in the car and drove out to Coxwold hoping it would be brightening up there as well.
It proved to be a good move and I thoroughly enjoyed what was only my fourth excursion into the Howardian Hills. Coxwold is a delightful little village with a beautfiul church placed prominently at the top of the village. Just beyond the church can also be found Shandy Hall, once the home of the 18th century author Laurence Sterne who wrote 'Tristram Shandy' and 'A Sentimental Journey'.
From Coxwold it was a pleasant walk west over fields, past Coxwold Park House and Angram Hall then across the amusingly named Twattleton Beck to reach Elphin Bridge Road. Along the way I already enjoyed some good views of the Kilburn White Horse on the Hambleton Hills escarpment as well as to the modest ridge of Beacon Banks which was the main aim of the walk. Just before reaching Elphin Bridge I also crossed the route of the old railway line between Thirsk and Malton.
Rather than following the road all the way into Husthwaite I took a slightly more circuitous route via the now derelict Baxby Mill and Ings Bridge. Husthwaite proved to be another attractive village with a nice green as well as the Church of St Nicholas which dates back to the 12th century.
Leaving Husthwaite I crossed into the Howardian Hills AONB and began the short easy climb up on to the ridge of Beacon Banks which promised some great views across the Vale of Mowbray and to the Hambleton Hills. At first I was greatly disappointed to find that gorse had been allowed to obscure the views from the path even from the trig point itself. However, a short distance further there was a clearing in front of a log bench that had been put there by the AONB in 2012 to mark the organisation's 25th anniversary.
The views proved to be superb, especially towards the Kilburn White Horse, down to Coxwold and beyond to Byland Abbey, the impressive ruins of which could quite clearly be seen from a few miles away. By happy chance the sun also broke through at this point and I spent a happy half hour or so taking photos. Eventually it was time to move on and the walk concluded with an easy descent and return to Coxwold through some more fields.
This was an easy and very pleasant little ramble and one I would highly recommend.