West of Kirkby Malzeard

In the Middle Ages the Honour of Kirkby Malzeard was a huge administrative area centred on the castle of the Mowbrays. There was an important market too in the village which grew up around the castle. Our walk explores the beautiful pastoral country to the west, tracing some of the ancient trackways which once linked Kirkby Malzeard across the Honour and over the moors into Nidderdale.

We start from the western end of the long  High Street. Take the road signed to Ringbeck and almost immediately go right on to a tarred lane. In about 10 yards a path goes left and across two fields to a hedged bridleway, where it turns left.


Distance: 7 miles

Time: 4 hours

Grade: moderate

Conditions: little used field paths and lanes. Well signed.

Refreshments: Kirkby Malzeard and Drovers' Inn, (half mile, closed Mondays)

OS Explorer Map 26

Originally published: 13 July 2007


This was once used by monks of Fountains and Byland Abbeys en route to their granges or farms in Nidderdale and can still be traced over Kirkby Malzeard Moor to Lofthouse. In 300 you cross Kex Beck by a footbridge and bear left along the stream side where there are remains of a stone causeway.


The way is then easy to follow through fields to Holmes Farm. It continues in the same direction for one field beyond the farm before striking across the middle of a much larger field to a gate. From here the way resumes as a path bordered by hedges. Follow this for 100

yards to the stony Wreaks Lane where go left. The lane soon fords Wreaks Beck. It then climbs gently on the same alignment from Kirkby Malzeard through a most attractive wooded landscape for almost a mile to a tarred road at a right angled bend. Go ahead on the road.


In 100 yards go left at another sharp bend. At this point we leave the monks' route which starts its climb ahead up on to the moor, visible in the distance. For the next two miles we follow the Ripon Rowel Walk, the long distance path which encircles Ripon. Look out for its

yellow and green signs depicting a rowel, (the revolving spiked disc at the end of a spur), for which the city was once famous.


After half a mile our traffic free road begins its descent into the valley of the River Laver, with widespread views away left across the Vale of Mowbray. The tranquillity is punctuated only by the calls of lapwings and curlews. Where the road turns sharp left look out for a path on the right by a ruined building. You cross the rushing, peaty Stock Beck and continue on a well marked path over bilberry covered moorland. The target to aim for is the 60 feet high Sighting Tower approached, after another stream crossing, by a walled lane. The tower, built in 1901, was used as a marker for the construction of a tunnel to carry water from Roundhill Reservoir to Harrogate.


Beyond the tower are the first two farms of the tiny hamlet of Carlesmoor. The second farm, The Grange, has an inscription 'Henry Robinson and Elizabeth, 1793'. Between the farms go sharp left down the concrete access track. This leads through well wooded countryside to a tarred lane. Turn left by a roadside mosaic of a wild rose, one of 22 made in 1997 and placed in the surrounding area by The Crackpots, a local group, to celebrate Nidderdale's designation as an Area of Oustanding Natural Beauty.


In about 200 yards turn right by a woodpecker mosaic. Our route now follows Drift Lane, another stony track which in the 18th and early 19th centuries was almost certainly one of the drove roads along which cattle would be driven south from the important market at Masham. The Drovers' Inn, about half a mile off our walk, but on the drove road, provides some evidence for this. In 300 yards cross Stock Beck by a footbridge and continue for another 300 yards past a mosaic cow to where the track forks by a mosaic of a flag iris and tadpoles.


Appleby Lane to the left leads to a deep ford over the Stock Beck which should not be attempted unless you wish to paddle downstream for some 50 yards to where the lane emerges from the waters. Instead, go right along the drove road past a well preserved short stretch of stone causeway. In about 100 yards from the fork go left via a stile and across one field to the river bank and follow it downstream to a footbridge. The path crosses one field to join Appleby Lane where we turn right.


This lane too may be a surviving section of another monastic track to Wath in Nidderdale. Beyond Beckmeetings Farm it is tarred but where, in half a mile, the lane turns left, bear right along Gillgate Road. After Low Intake it becomes a stony  track for the next half mile into Laverton. (An alternative field path is also mapped. It has been equipped recently with new signs and a kissing gate at the half way point, but after wet weather the marshland in the last field before Buck House requires careful negotiating. Turn right  for Laverton at Buck House.)


When you reach the road in Laverton go straight across and through or around an imposing cast iron gate. The path then crosses two fields to a corner next to the road. Turn right in the field and follow the hedge line over a number of small fields on a well signed path. After the sixth stile an arrow directs you left up the side of a long field. From the stile at the end of the field the houses of Kirkby Malzeard can be seen ahead.

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