A few years ago [written in 2009] the rights of way in the Howardian Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty were improved with new stiles and gates, (mostly the latter), and helpful signposts. Obstructions were removed and the whole system was brought up to a high standard.
Distance: 9 miles
Time: 5 hours
Conditions: well signed rights of way
Refreshments: Hovingham and Terrington
OS Explorer Map 300
Originally published: 31 October 2009
The network is still in a good state of repair which is an added attraction for walkers in this beautiful, little frequented undulating landscape of mixed farmland and woodland.
Our 9 mile route starts in Hovingham at the Worsley Arms on the B 1257, (GR 667756). Follow the road in the direction of Malton and where it bears to the left at the edge of the houses go right, uphill on a path which cuts a corner to join the road to Sheriff Hutton and York.
In 200 yards go left on a bridleway, part of the Ebor Way long distance route between Helmsley and York which we follow for the next three miles. For the first half mile there are wide views left across the Vale of Pickering.
The path then enters the extensive South Wood where there is no shortage of fingerposts to keep the walker on the beaten track. Emerging from the trees the Way continues across one field and then along the side of Wath Beck to a junction. Turn left here, keeping the edge of another wood on the left for 300 yards to a crossing of tracks. Go right over one field to Howthorpe Farm.
The Ebor Way continues to the left of the farmhouse along the access track where there are widespread views of rolling hills and a glimpse of Terrington ahead on its low ridge.
In a quarter of a mile, at the top of a rise, bear right at a junction and in another 200 yards turn right on to a path which heads down to cross Wath Beck over a plank bridge. From here there's a gentle climb across fields leaving a large pool away on the left. Terrington is entered across the playing fields of Terrington Hall Preparatory School where there are distant views back across the Howardian Hills to the moors.
Next to the school is the church which is well worth a visit. Though the tower is 15th century there is much original Norman work in the nave and chancel.
From the church we drop down to the village street which, with its honey coloured stone cottages with their red pantile roofs must be one of the most attractive in the county. Turn right up to the Plump, the circular green shaded by mature trees which is very much a focal point for the village. A few yards further, where the road bends sharply to the left carry straight ahead along New Road.
This soon descends to Sawmill Cottage before continuing as a rough track to Rose Cottage Farm. Here the right of way is diverted around the farmyard and continues beyond as a grassy bridleway. It's easy to follow around the edge of Swinsey Carr Wood before it bears left across the middle of a large field where a direction post marks the way. On the far side we reach the North Lodge of Wiganthorpe Hall.
Turn right here along the Hovingham to Sheriff Hutton road. In half a mile go left on the bridleway called Scackleton Lane. In another half mile turn right on the access lane to Hovingham Lodge. Beyond the house the lane winds down into the pretty valley of the nameless beck that flows down to Hovingham.
Cross the beck and turn sharp right on a path which continues parallel to the stream and through Mill Wood to meet the road from Hovingham to Coulton.
Across the road a stile gives access to a permissive path which soon rejoins the beck and strikes across Hovingham Park, here enhanced by the graceful 18th century Pickering Bridge and a distant glimpse of the hall, designed in the mid 18th century by the owner, Sir Thomas Worsley, successor to Sir Christopher Wren as Surveyor-General.
Don't cross the bridge but instead go left on the track leading from it up to a gate on the edge of a wood. The path then bears right along a fence side to a stile.
From here a path to the right follows a line of trees to enter Hovingham from the north. It meets our beck again which flows past a terrace of cottages to a ford by the Spa Tearoom on the B 1257.
If you have time the village is well worth exploring. There are many pretty cottages, imposing Regency and Victorian stone houses from the period when Hovingham flourished as a spa, and a mainly 19th century church with an 11th century Saxon tower. Inside, at the east end of the south aisle, is a sculptured stone described by Pevsner in his 'North Riding' as "a very remarkable Anglo-Saxon slab, perhaps an altar frontal, of c. 800". The hall of the Worsleys is set back from the village. What you see from the village green is the grand entrance to the covered Riding School, once used for training horses and now a venue for the Ryedale Festival.