Walk - Country walking in Cawthorne and an eerie wander through York with Terry Fletcher

PUBLISHED: 00:16 25 December 2010 | UPDATED: 18:21 20 February 2013

Walk  - Country walking in Cawthorne and an eerie wander through York with Terry Fletcher

Walk - Country walking in Cawthorne and an eerie wander through York with Terry Fletcher

Short winter days are made for staying off the high tops and close to a country pub or two, says Terry Fletcher

Short winter days are made for staying off the high tops and close to a country pub or two, says Terry Fletcher

Those in the know have long been aware that theres a lot more to Barnsleys hinterland than muckstacks and mufflers. The former mining capital also sits amid some prime countryside and attractive villages. This walk links two of them, with an 18th century mansion thrown in for good measure.


It starts in Cawthorne, a charming community that would be perfectly at home in the nearby Peak District National Park. From the triangular green head into the village down Church Street and passing the Spencer Arms. Follow the road round to the left and then turn almost immediately right down a lane marked Public Bridleway. This quickly becomes a snicket which winds downhill. Cross a picturesque clapper bridge next to a ford and go through the gate to the village cricket ground.

At the next gate you enter the grounds of Cannon Hall, once the home of the Spencer-Stanhope family who made their fortune in iron and coal, but now a country park and museum run by Barnsley Council. Take the path half right, through the trees towards a graceful arched bridge. Do not cross this but stay on the same side of the river, crossing a mown area and then take a worn path with Cannon Hall standing proud on the hillside across the lake. There has been a house on the site since before the Norman Conquest and one is mentioned in the Domesday Book.

Todays building, however, is largely the work of the Georgian architect John Carr of York and houses the regimental museums of the 13th/18th Royal Hussars and the Light Dragoons as well as other exhibits.

Below a small cascade the path crosses a footbridge. At the other side turn left towards a large pay and display car park, which could be used to start the walk if there are no spaces in Cawthorne itself.

Pass to the right of the Pavilion Caf and climb the gentle hill passing an imposing deer house whose roof is bizarrely supported by four yew trees. Follow the path up to the hall. The museum entrance is round the back if you want to visit. Our route, however, passes across its grand frontage and continues through some formal gardens to eventually pass through an imposing archway, salvaged from a local church. Pass over a footbridge and then turn immediately left across the grass and into an unlikely-looking cul-de-sac leading into the trees. At the end, just when you are becoming convinced you are lost, an elaborate stile appears with a sign reading Footpath to High Hoyland.

Cross the stile. The signposted footpath, indicated by a yellow arrow, heads away down the fence line to a stile at which point another path cuts back up the hill to the fence enclosing the Home Farm in front of you. It is tempting, however, to miss out this dogleg and simply follow the cart track which runs outside the right hand side of the Home Farm enclosure, which is sternly marked Strictly No Admittance. Admission charge.

At the top of the hill by some sheep pens cross a stile and then head half right across the field, aiming for the white-painted buildings of Dean Hill Farm in the valley below. At a copse near the bottom of the hill pass through an easy-to-miss iron gate and walk down the side of the trees to a footbridge by a pond.

Cross this and climb the field to pass between the rather grand-looking farmhouse and its outbuildings. The path continues to climb and passes through a wood to reach a field. Go half right and slightly uphill aiming for a public footpath sign by a metal gate.

At the road turn right, taking care on the narrow line and within a few hundred yards enter High Hoyland. Walk through the village, passing the Cherry Tree pub. Continue along the road until, just as you leave the first group of houses, an almost-illegible pubic footpath sign appears on the right by a concreted track. Head down the track towards the trees but just before the wood is reached veer left to follow a yellow arrow, pointing into the woods. The capital B in a circle on the marker posts denotes this is part of the Barnsley Boundary. Do not, however, expect much in the way
of path maintenance and the going can be very muddy after heavy rain.

The path eventually emerges into a wide pasture. Continue in the same line with the wall on your left and soon Cawthorne appears ahead. The path, always following the same general line, slips in and out of woodland and skirts pastures before crossing a footbridge and another field to enter a snicket which leads beside some allotments to a road. Turn right and then left to reach the village green.

Try this eerie urban walk in York

York is not a city for the faint hearted. Every night strange figures are spotted wandering the narrow mediaeval streets. Men in frock coats and top hats and dark figures in highwaymens garb roam within the walls, each pursued by its own coterie of nervous followers. Despite appearances, these are not among the 140 or so separate ghosts reputed to haunt the city but guides from at least six different spook tours which criss-cross it sending a chill down the spines of visitors.

But its easy enough to be brave in an organised group, no matter how dark the night, but what about going alone in search of ghosts when the wind moans through the narrow snickleways and mist from the Ouse swirls in darkened entrances? The city has seen 2,000 years of intrigue, betrayal, persecutions, executions, battles and murder most foul and this walk takes you to some of its most haunted spots if you dare.


It starts by one of the most famous landmarks, Cliffords Tower. Here in 1190 some 150 Jews took refuge in the then wooden castle. Some took their own lives rather than face the angry mob outside. Others died when the building was set alight. It is said that each century on the anniversary of the massacre the stone tower turns red from the flames and blood.

From there head through the modern shopping centre, passing down the side of Fenwicks and the Jorvik Viking Centre drawn onward by the elaborately decorated tower of All Saints Church. It is said to be haunted by the spirit of a beautiful young woman with a taste for funerals.

From All Saints turn right down to Parliament Street and then left along this wide boulevard. Where it reaches St Sampsons Square, glance right and spot the Roman Baths. Today the ground floor is a pub but the cellars are a museum where the splashing and calls of Roman bathers are said to echo down the centuries. Go back to the main street, now rechristened Davygate, and carry on in the same direction. Immediately past Bettys tea rooms, turn right into Stonegate which can claim to be not only one of Yorks busiest streets but also its most haunted. A few yards up on the right is the half-timbered Punch Bowl which boasts not one but two ghosts. One is said to be the spirit of a prostitute chased from room to room and then murdered by an angry customer and the other the shade of a 19th century landlord killed in a fire.

At the end of the pedestrianised section turn right into Low Petergate and carry on for a couple of hundred yards before turning left into Goodramgate. On the left is the White Swan, another pub with excess spirits and said to be haunted by the ghosts of a group of persecuted Catholics who met there.

A few yards further on is a gated archway that leads into the hidden graveyard of Holy Trinity Church. It is a peaceful oasis in the city centre apart from the ghost of the decapitated Earl of Northumberland who was buried here when he lost his head after falling out with Elizabeth I.

Continue up Goodramgate and at the end turn left towards the half-timbered curved frontage of St Williams College. Murder and betrayal stalk this building. According to the story two brothers robbed and murdered a priest but the younger sibling was wracked by guilt. Fearing his brother may confess their crime, the elder betrayed him and the unfortunate youngster was hanged but, unaware of his treachery, never implicated his brother. However, the elder boy, ashamed of his actions, quickly died and it is he who is said to pace the upper floors to this day.

Walk past the college and into the Minster Yard following signs for the Treasurers House and a positive legion of ghosts. In 1953 a workman in the cellar saw a mounted Roman emerged from a brick wall, followed by a troop of dishevelled foot soldiers. Bizarrely they seemed to be on their knees which added to the credibility of his story as a Roman road ran 15 inches below the present floor level.

Carry on past the Treasurers House for a few steps and then take an iron gate on the left leading into Deans Park which loops behind the Minister. It naturally claims a ghost, albeit a benevolent one, said to be the spirit of the 18th century Dean Gale who loved the building so much that he refuses to leave and sits listening to sermons.

Walk around the Minister and leave the park by another iron gate and turn almost immediately right into High Petergate where the York Arms is said to have a disquieting female ghost.

Pass under the archway of Botham Bar and cross the road into Exhibition Square and Kings Manor and the haunt of Yorks most exalted spook.

The Principals House is claimed to be visited by a lady in fine Tudor dress and carrying roses. This seemed unlikely as the house was built at a later period. However it was later discovered that it stands on a former rose garden, a favourite spot for Henry VIIIs executed wife, Catherine Howard.

If you can handle one more spook walk past the Theatre Royal, and its Grey Lady a nun who apparently took a lover - to cross into Blake Street which leads back to Davygate and Parliament Street. Turn right past All Saints and follow the road down to Ouse Bridge. Immediately after crossing the river take the steps down leftwards to the quayside and at its end glance right to see the Cock and Bottle pub in Skeldergate. Here George Villiers a noble alchemist is said to be a restless spirit with wandering hands and a taste for female visitors.

Sleep well!

Latest from the Yorkshire Life