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Ainthorpe over Danby Rigg into Danby Dale

Danby Rigg does not quite have the eminence of Danby High Moor further south but is still popular with walkers for the many old routes which cross it.

Our 8 mile walk climbs from Ainthorpe to the trig point at 1022ft before following the ancient Jack Sledge Road down into Danby Dale. An easy stretch follows on the hard surfaced paths through  Botton Village before the return along the western side of the valley.

Distance:  8 miles

Time:  5 hours

Grade:  moderate

Conditions:  Well signed, could be wet on descent into Danby Dale

Refreshments: Ainthorpe, Danby,(half mile), Botton coffee bar

OS Explorer Map OL26

Originally published: 19 November 2010

We start from the green in Ainthorpe, (GR 704077), well supplied with wooden seats, perhaps for watching quoits which is played here in the summer months. Go up the lane which leads to Danby Castle. Where, in a quarter of a mile, it bends to the left, just past the entrance to Rowantree Farm, continue straight ahead on a bridleway. After a gate the way, marked by a number of boundary stones, climbs gently over the open moorland of Ainthorpe Rigg. In less than a mile, on the edge of Danby Rigg, we are rewarded by a spectacular view of Little Fryup Dale, its velvety green slopes and  dense woodlands a sharp contrast to the bleakness of the moors.

Despite its present rugged nature the rigg was once cultivated and grazed. Archaeologists are still tentative about the remains, which probably date from the Iron Age. Soon after you turn right along the edge look out for a dyke, (ditch and bank), coming in on the right over the moor. After passing the trig point you will notice another dyke which crosses the path. The dykes appear to have been boundary markers defining the extent of cultivation. Between them an extensive area of cairnfields covers the moor, the many scattered cairns likely to have been the result of land clearance for cultivation or grazing.

Shortly after passing the second dyke you will come to a low, modern cairn. Bear right here on the Jack Sledge Road, an old route linking Fryup Dale with Danby Dale, once used by Methodists on their way to the chapel at Botton.

The track is easy to follow for half a mile to the edge of Danby Dale which suddenly appears below you, the pastures of Botton's farms almost completely encircled by heather moors. Away to the right is a large hanging stone.

From the edge the track goes right, down the valley side before curving left through bracken to a gate with a large white notice, "Cows with Calves". Beyond it we cross two fields to East Cliff Farm. Turn left here over a wall stile and head to the Bakery, the first building of Botton Village Community. Look out for a polygonal horse engine house on the right.

Botton Village was set up in 1955 by the Camphill Trust to cater for people with special needs. It has its own church and social centre and the villagers and staff or co-workers live in houses scattered over the 400 acre estate. High quality craft goods are produced as is produce from the 4 farms. Visitors are welcome to use the well paved and signed network of paths criss- crossing the estate.

Continue past the bakery on a tarred lane to a junction. Go straight ahead here through a gate on a path which leads directly to the village centre with its shop and coffee bar, (open to the public every day including Sunday afternoons, but closed every day between 12 noon and 2pm).

From the shop continue along the main drive past Botton Hall and over a stream to a junction by the church. Next follow the sign pointing ahead to the Doll Shop and HBNF, (for Honey Bee Nest Farm). When you reach another tarred lane continue ahead for 100 yards before going right on another paved path to HBNF. The path drops to the valley floor, where go left across Danby Beck and up to the farm at the far end of the tarred track, about 100 yards beyond a sign to Camphill Press.

Turn right at the farm on a track which leads to Nook House Farm with its fine 19th century cartshed. Continue for 100 yards beyond the buildings before leaving the track by a path, left, over the fields to Stormy Hall, where there's another good example of a horse engine house which once housed a horse driven threshing machine.

Our walk continues across a tarred lane on a bridleway which links the farms on the west side of  Danby Dale. After Westcliffe Farm it becomes a path and there are traces of a stone causeway. The route is still called Quakers' Way and was probably used by members of the Society of Friends as they travelled between Danby Dale and Rosedale.

From Plum Tree Farm our walk follows the access lane for about half a mile. At a junction go straight ahead through a gate on a bridleway which at first runs close to Danby Beck before bearing left to join the course of another tiny, nameless beck, with Castleton on its ridge half a mile ahead. Another surprise awaits - fields of black and white alpacas bring a touch of Latin America to the green pastures of Danby Dale. We walk through at least one of their fields as the path crosses Danby Beck and swings around Brookfield.

Go left when you come to a tarmac lane and continue to Ashfield House where there's another stone trod, part of the way from Castleton to Danby church. At the sharp bend by the house turn right on a bridleway which climbs around the left shoulder of the tiny outlier of Danby Low Moor.

The walk passes the war memorial and then goes right along the lane between Castleton and Ainthorpe. Continue past the fine 18th century Howe End Farm and then the school.In another 50 yards bear right on Strait Lane with its many road signs and in a quarter of a mile look out for a green lane on the right which takes you back to our starting point.


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