Goldsborough to Little Ribston & Plumpton

Goldsborough is a large village where the houses are of warm brick or cream Tadcaster limestone. Adjacent to the large 17th century hall is the church, worth a visit for its effigies of two medieval Goldsborough knights, the large base of a 9th century cross in the churchyard and the Norman south doorway. Our 7 and a half mile walk explores the rich parkland and farmland of this section of the lower Nidd valley, crossing the river close to Ribston Hall before continuing to Plumpton. The return is on the riverside on the long distance Knaresborough Round path.


Distance: 7.5 miles

Time: 4 hours

Grade: easy

Conditions: Well signed rights of way except for the stretch between Little Ribston and Loxley

Refreshments: Goldsborough, Watermill Cafe

OS Explorer Map 289

Originally published: 22 September 2017


With your back to the Bay Horse (GR 381562) walk left along the village street for some 150 yards and turn left at Reading Room Cottage down the traffic free Midgeley Lane. For half a mile the lane skirts the Great Wood of Goldsborough Park with good views away to the right to Knaresborough on its hill top.


At the end of the lane go ahead on a grassy track to a junction. Continue straight ahead over one field and into High Wood. Beyond the trees the Nidd is glimpsed briefly on the right before the path crosses two fields on a slightly raised grass terrace to the concrete drive leading to Park House. Turn right.


Our route now crosses the spacious Ribston Park noted for its wide variety of deciduous trees. To the right is the elegant hall built for Sir Henry Goodricke in 1674. Where our track joins the drive to the hall go ahead to the late Georgian lodges guarding the bridge over the Nidd. In another 250 yards the track runs briefly along the river's edge.


Then look out for a path on the right which cuts across the park to a stile. The right of way leads through a cottage garden and on to Little Ribston's village street (the B 6164) where go right.


In about 20 paces cross the road on to a path signed to the right of Rowan House. The right of way crosses the concrete in front of a large barn and continues as a grassy track around to the left to enter a long field in about 100 yards. Turn right , following the track with a hedge on the right. After about a third of a mile and below a crossing of power lines, go through a gap in the hedge and turn left.


In another 150 yards go through a gap in the hedge where it curves to the right (there's a yellow arrow fixed to a tree at this point. Again keep to the hedge on the left and in another 150 yards go left again through a similar gap. The right of way continues with a line of trees on the left for a similar distance. It then enters the trees and bears left on a rough track to join the concrete track linking the farms of Throstle Nest and Loxley. Turn right.

It is now easy going past Loxley Farm, with its striking huge arched recesses, to the 18th century Plompton High Grange.


 Beyond the farm continue to a junction where, on Sats and Suns (11-6) till the end of October, you could turn left to visit Plumpton Rocks. An over the top description in an 18th century History of Knaresborough says "on account of its beautiful pleasure ground it has not its equal in Great Britain". Over 100 years later Queen Mary said it was "Heaven on Earth". Turner was given his first commission to record its beauty which was enjoyed by the public for over two centuries. Recently restored, it is a well maintained, tranquil spot. Its line of gritstone crags, many with fanciful Victorian names, overhangs a large lake popular with swans and ducks.  A circuit of the lake can be made by using John Carr's ornamental dam. There are seats for picnics too.


After your visit return to the junction and continue towards the 18th century Plumpton Hall. In a few yards go left on a bridleway across one field and then into trees. Turn left at the next junction and, at the bottom of a short slope, go right past a disused gate. The bridleway then keeps another wood on the right to reach another track coming from the hall.


Turn left and follow the track around a sharp bend to the right before passing down the left side of Birkham Wood to the A 658. Cross this busy main road and continue for 100 yards through the trees  to where the bridleway curves right. (To reduce the walk by almost a mile you could continue along the bridleway to rejoin the main walk at our recrossing of the A 658 - not mapped).


The main walk however goes left at the bend and descends as a grassy trail across two fields into dense woodland. We turn right on reaching the river and follow the acute bend made by the Nidd as it changes course through a gorge to flow north eastwards. Part of the Knaresborough Round it's a beautiful path with a little scrambling involved (but nothing too taxing). Sadly there's much Himalayan balsam infestation on this stretch although a clearance programme seems to have been undertaken.


In less than half a mile the path reaches a caravan park and the Watermill Cafe, housed in the former 18th century Plompton Mill. Continue ahead down the riverside to Grimbald Bridge where an interesting diversion could be made. Cross the bridge and go first left along Abbey Road. In 200 yards you reach St. Robert's Cave. Here, between 1186 and 1218 lived St. Robert of Knaresborough who, by his piously ascetic life, attracted pilgrims from far and wide.


Return to the bridge, cross it and follow the old road (Wetherby Road) straight ahead to the roundabout on the A 658 where we rejoin the short cut bridleway.


Cross the main road and take the B 6164, signed Wetherby. In 50 yards cross the road and go left down a steep holloway to the bridge over the Nidd at Goldsborough Mill Farm. It's less than a mile from the bridge to our starting point on what was probably the old road from Knaresborough to York.

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