Harrogate Ringway - Saturday 5 September 2015
Scotton - Nidd Gorge - Knox - Birk Crag - Harlow Carr - Pannal - Crimple - Knaresborough - Scotton
Nidd Gorge Car Park (Free) - Grid Ref SE330585
Field paths, forest tracks and some road walking on quiet country lanes although there is a busy, short section on the A661 but it has a wide grass verge)
Overcast at first with sunny spells in the afternoon
OS 297 - Lower Wharfedale & Washburn Valley
OS 289 - Leeds, Harrogate, Wetherby & Pontefract
The town of Harrogate is obviously very famous for its spa waters but there are a few other facts that are not that well known. For instance, polls have consistently voted this jewel of North Yorkshire the happiest place to live in Britain. Additionally, it has in the past been voted the 3rd most romantic destination in the world - beating Paris, Rome & Vienna! The town has a lot to offer in addition to the spa waters. For example the Royal Horticultural Society Gardens at Harlow Carr are a big draw and with the Yorkshire Dales nearby plus the Nidderdale AONB there is much to do and see here.
Today we would be walking The Harrogate Ringway - a walk of roughly 21 miles which encircles the town and is well way marked The terrain is mostly on country paths although there is some road walking through quiet villages with one small stretch of the busy A661 to negotiate. There is much to see - viaducts, gorges, becks and even a crag to climb plus the start point can be anywhere on the Ringway you see fit. We completed the walk in a day but it can be divided up and even made longer with the introduction of the Knaresborough Round - making 36 miles in total!
We were staying just outside Knaresborough near the Nidd Gorge therefore started the walk from Scotton, joining the route just east of the village. A wide track led us down to the gorge from where there is a delightful amble along the River Nidd, passing the weir at Scotton Mill and ultimately reaching the Nidd Viaduct. From the viaduct the route headed up into suburbia before reaching the Spruisty Packhorse Bridge at Knox - once upon a time the bridge was in disrepair but was repaired by the local community in 2012. From Knox the route meandered over fields to reach Harrogate Golf Course and the Ringway then hugged the bank of Oakdale Back along a delightful woodland path to climb up to Birk Crag. From the crag we were looking forward to visiting the pub near the RHS Gardens at Harlow Carr but despite the OS Map showing a big blue beer glass The Harrogate Arms was deserted and was clearly not open for business.
Disappointed, we travelled through Harlow Carr, resisting the fare on offer at Betty's Cafe to reach a farm where some inquisitive bullocks were blocking the access to the stile on the opposite side of the path. There then began a game of cat & mouse whereby the cows would move away to allow us access then come back and block us in whenever we made a move - eventually after about 15 minutes they got bored and headed off up the field allowing us to carry on. We were now feeling a bit peckish and knew there was a pub in Pannal Ash and therefore ventured off route slightly to arrive at the curiously named "The Squinting Cat" where we enjoyed good beer and a very pleasant meal in the Beer Garden.
Rejoining the route we passed over the fields near Daw Cross to reach the lovely village of Pannal which then led us to Crimple with its viaduct and also the temptations of The Travellers Rest - time was getting on therefore we gave the pub a miss. Arriving at the A661 the volume of traffic and noise of the road took us a bit by surprise but the transit along this highway is only short before the route heads north to Forest Moor and ultimately the town of Knaresborough. The route through Knaresborough is a delight and passes along the Nidd below the castle walls to reach the impressive railway bridge over the river - all was quiet here but during the day this stretch is jam packed with people enjoying the many cafes along the riverbank. Leaving Knaresborough we then travelled via field paths and woodland to reach the footbridge in Nidd Gorge that would deliver us back to Scotton.
This is a long old day but perfectly achievable at a leisurely pace - we took our time, had a pub lunch and did 22.7 miles in 10 hours. The terrain is generally flat, paths are clear and the road walking not too onerous. A really well thought out route that we thoroughly enjoyed.
The walk starts at the entrance to Nidd Gorge
Heading across the bridge to the opposite side of the gorge
The River Nidd
This was a good path through the gorge which was either slabbed or duck boarded
Small dog, large beach
The weir at Scotton Mill
This was a very well signposted route
If only everyone did eh?
The Spruisty packhorse bridge at Knox. The bridge fell into disrepair and was repaired by the local community in 2012
Lots of erosion as we approach Harlow Carr but good to see duck boarding in place
Fooled again by the OS Map - this hostelry was definitely shut
It took us a good 15 minutes to get this lot to shift - we were only walking about 100 yards to the stile on the left.
The stroppiest of all was the git with the horns
The stroppiest of all was the git with the horns
Good pub with an even better name - The Squinting Cat at Pannal Ash
Cheers! Although Fudge was getting a quick bout of zeds in.
Lovely paths through fields near Daw Cross
It certainly was a walk of two halves - first half urban, second half rural
He had a great day today
One thing about this walk was the way marking - excellent. This was near the lovely village of Pannal
St Robert's Church, Pannal
The Crimple Valley Viaduct
Was very inviting but it was getting late and we did not want to lose the light
We were glad to see this sign to Forest Moor following a section of road walking along the busy A661
Glad to be back in Knaresborough but we still had about 4 miles to go
Apparently Knaresborough was one of the first towns to have full gaslight on its streets
The impressive railway bridge over the River Nidd in Knaresborough
During the day this area is jam packed - this was early evening and no-one was about
Looking back down the River Nidd towards the Castle Walls
Knaresborough is well worth a visit - nice vibe about it
Finally back at Scotton after a very long but enjoyable walk
Someone is tired
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