Sunday, 21 July 2013

Harewood & the Leeds Country Way

GPS Track
From: Harewood

Parking: Harewood Village Hall
Start Point: Harewood VIllage Hall
Region: Leeds

Route length: 10.2 miles (16.4 km)
Time taken: 03:57
Average speed: 2.6 mph
Ascent: 438m
Descent: 425m

Route: Harewood, Fitts Lane, Ebor Way, Carthick Wood, Ebor Way, East Keswick, Gateon House Lane, Leeds Country Way, Lofthouse Farm, Harewood Estate, Stank, North Park

We decided to do this walk after seeing it online and it was refreshing to not have to drive hours to get some decent walking done - such is the quality of the countryside north of Leeds.

The day was cloudy, which was a relief, as the weeks preceding this had been very hot and dry. For once, it was nice not to have to worry about sun cream! Parking at the Harewood Village Hall and donating to their honesty box, we stuck our boots on and made for the main road. Walking briefly along the A61, we had to cross it (with care) to access Fitts Lane that leads down to the Ebor Way and the River Wharfe.
Fitts Lane, just off the A61
Wildlife quickly appeared, despite the close proximity to the main road
Walking down Fitts Lane, the hedgerows grew in stature and displayed the all the benefits of leaving them to grow wild. Butterflies and bees buzzed around constantly and a wonderful array of wild plants were on display. As we followed Fitts Lane down the hill, we soon reached the Ebor Way.

The Ebor Way is a long distance path, 70 miles in length, that crosses the country between Helmsley and Ilkey. The name derives from the Roman name for York, Eboracum. More information about the entire route can be found here. The section we walked ran parallel to the River Wharfe for a few miles before reaching Carthick Wood. The path is quite narrow in places but is generally flat and easy to follow.
The typical nature of the Ebor Way
The path as it passes close to the River Wharfe
After passing through Carthick Wood, the path continues along the Wharfe a few hundred metres further before leaving it and passing through another small, unnamed wood. This bit was quite unpleasant thanks to the height of the vegetation either side and the rather rampant nettles. As I'm sure you all know, shorts, bare legs and nettles don't mix well. After a brief yet surprisingly boggy climb, we reached the A659 which we had to cross and head into East Keswick.
The River Wharfe
An amazing display of wild poppies
The Ebor Way leaves the route of the River Wharfe.....
.....and leads into a jungle.
After passing through East Keswick, we found our way to the Leeds Country Way, a 62 mile path that encircles Leeds and passes through Golden Acre Park, Barwick-in-Elmet and Carlton to name a few places. Despite being predominantly rural, the path never strays more than 7 miles from the square in Leeds city centre.

We walked along the Leeds Country Way for a couple of miles before reaching the road which leads to the Harewood Estate. The route is much more popular than the Ebor Way was and we passed a few more people this time, having not seen anyone all morning. Crossing the A61 again, we entered the grounds of Harewood House.
Signposts point out the direction of the Leeds Country Way

The route varies from a single, worn path.... wide bridleways
The Harewood Estate is home to Harewood House, a 16th Century country house, home to the Lascelles family. Edwin Lascelles (1713 - 1795) was a wealthy trader and the 1st Baron of Harewood. Harewood House is currently part of the Treasure Houses of England, a marketing consortium for ten of the foremost historic homes in England. The house is Grade I listed and other features in the grounds are Grade I, Grade II and Grade II*. The path leads into the estate where you can see Harewood House in the distance.
Harewood House
For our walk, we skirted the edge of the estate before the Leeds Country Way joins the Ebor Way at Stub House Plantation. Descending the hill north, the path crosses though the very heart of the estate to Stank, a row of Grade II listed workers cottages.

Stank Beck crosses though the estate
The path is wide and easy to follow
Piles of wood sat drying
The final part of the walk involved a long, steady climb from Stank through North Park and back to the car in Harewood.
This was a great walk that was much closer to home than many of the walks we do in the Dales and the Lakes. It's nice to know that you can see so much scenery and wildlife without straying too far from home. Time to start investigating other, similar routes around Leeds and Wakefield.