North Yorkshire Walk - Nunnington Hall, Ryedale
PUBLISHED: 10:29 20 May 2014 | UPDATED: 10:29 20 May 2014
Enjoy a walk that takes you back in time along river paths and farm tracks
The Howardian Hills are steeped in history and this walk, which also takes in the valley of the Rye, visits two of the most historic buildings in the area. It starts from the picturesque village of Nunnington, close to the bridge over the Rye. The crossing dates back to the 18th century and though it has undergone considerable modifications since then, it remains a graceful partner to the nearby hall, which is nowadays owned by the National Trust and open to the public. There has been a manor house on the site since the 13th century but most of what visitors see today dates back to the 1680s with a few 18th century modifications and extensions. The walk traverses the ridge of Caulkleys Bank to reach Stonegrave Minister whose origins lie hidden in the Dark Ages.
From the crossroads in front of Nunnington Hall take a few paces uphill before entering the farm drive on the left and immediately cross a stile in the right wall and go up the paddock to another stile in the top fence. Turn right to skirt round the village hall and then over a stile in the fence before curling round behind the buildings. Go through the right hand of two gates making for the divided buildings of Mill Farm ahead. Pass between the main buildings and then go straight on through two gates that lead out into fields following the edge of the wood and running parallel to the Rye.
After the second field take a kissing gate and a path heading slightly rightwards to the fence corner and then continue following the line of the river through more fields to emerge on a lane. Turn right through the hamlet of West Ness passing a dilapidated old red phone box and a farm outbuilding that declares it was once the Wesleyan Chapel.
As you leave the hamlet, just beyond the West Ness boundary marker, take a path on the left marked East Ness which leads into Joan’s Wood. Follow the path up through the trees to rejoin the road. Turn right for a few yards to a bridleway on the other side of the road signed to Stonegrave.
By a barn the main track bears left but our route goes on straight ahead along the narrower path bordered by hedges between which are occasional views of the distant Wolds and North York Moors. The track crosses a farm road before continuing its climb with the views becoming ever more panoramic, and crossing a lane still heading to Stonegrave.
At a fork take the left hand branch and drop through a gate down a charming sunken way to join a road. Turn left downhill for a few yards into the attractive village of Stonegrave until a sign points to the Minster. This may seem a rather grand title for such a small and relatively plain church but what it lacks in size it more than makes up with history. Inside is a Celtic cross and medieval tombs. There have been churches on this site since before 750, established by missionary monks. In 794 the minster was destroyed by Viking raiders.
Leave the churchyard by a flight of steps in the bottom corner and, ignoring arrows pointing back into the village, go straight ahead to a gate in the corner of the small wooded enclosure and across the field ahead to the opposite fence before climbing beside it to a gate leading back onto the road.
Cross straight over to take a cart track marked to Nunnington which climbs steeply. At the top of the second field, where the path becomes level, do not go through the gap in the hedge but instead follow the hedge leftwards for about 100yds and then go through a gap in the hedge and follow the track down to a lane.
Turn left for 100yds and then take a path on the right signed to Harome. Follow the cart track down the side of the field, turning first leftwards and then rightwards around a large field. At the corner of the wood a three-armed sign points rightwards to Nunnington. Walk down the side of wood, through a gap in the hedge at the bottom and then down the field with the hedge on your right to a footbridge in the bottom corner of the field. Cross this and follow the river all the way back to Nunnington, arriving at a river bridge. Turn left along the village street to reach the hall.
Start/finish: Crossroads by Nunnington Hall, Ryedale
Distance: 6 miles/10km
Height gain: 260ft/80m
Time: 3-4 hours
Terrain: Riverside paths and farm tracks
Parking: In the village
Refreshments: Cafés and pubs in Nunnington
Map: OS Explorer 300 Howardian Hills and Malton