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Oswaldkirk to Hovingham via Ebor Way

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The video below is pertaining to Ebor Way Oswaldkirk to Hovingham where we take a walk through the Howardian Hills and discover the idyllic village of Hovingham via Cawton.


Watch Oswaldkirk to Hovingham via Ebor Way


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Ebor Way Oswaldkirk to Hovingham Vlog

Oswaldkirk to Hovingham via Ebor Way


In this episode we will be taking a walk through an area of outstanding beauty between the villages of Oswaldkirk, Cawton and Hovingham. We take in amazing views of local scenery, wildlife as well as three stunning villages situated in the Howardian Hills.

If you have never been to Oswaldkirk before it is a small village just offset of the Malton to Helmsley Road the B1257. We are also just a couple of miles from Ampleforth down the road.

This 4 mile each way route is straight forward to achieve. The house at the top was the same house that appeared on Escape to the Country one time with Nicki Chapman.

Sadly, there is only a public house in Oswaldkirk which at the time of filming was being refurbished. Hovingham has much more to offer in terms of refreshments which is why it is best to perform the walk this way.


Leysthorpe Lane, Oswaldkirk

Oswaldkirk to Hovingham via Ebor Way


You can if you wish, walk carefully on the right hand side of the road to the B1257 and turn left at the top, and walk on the grass verge. However, you can simply walk down Leysthorpe Lane and walk across the field to the top road instead.

You can certainly see the pride that Oswaldkirk as well as the rest of Ryedale have in their rural communities and it is evident in the anti-fracking signs displayed here and there. Of course, this is pertaining to the proposed site at Kirby Misperton which has now fallen through.

This lane sometimes referred to as the terraces, contains some attractive stone cottages as well as opportunities to purchase local honey. It also has some superb views over the rural farmland below.

Leysthorpe Lane is straight and flat but not without its charisma. As far as hills are concerned, there is just one steepish hill to climb and descend but the rest of the route is pain free.

Our walk today is very scenic but it is also a great place for solitude. Between here and Cawton I hardly saw a soul except for some wildlife. I spoke to one resident walking his dog and we joked about how the weather always turns sour during the school holidays.

This walk is very well way marked with yellow arrows and signposts clearly identifying the routes you can take. The lane however takes us out of Oswaldkirk and heads towards Birch Farm although we leave the lane a little further along.

I am actually setting a poor example today because when achieving a walk such as this one, we really should avoid wearing jeans. Granted they a cosy as well as fashionable, yet if they get wet, they take a much longer time to dry. It is best to invest in some purpose trousers for walking which dry quicker and these need not be expensive.

Our only steep hill comes quite early in our route as we head on over the stile and walk diagonally across the field. However, you receive some fantastic views from the top across Birch Farm and beyond. You’ll notice that the fields are golden at the moment as it is harvest time. Not all the fields today have been harvested yet, but some have.

I really love it when the sky is a dark grey colour in contrast with the golden fields below them. Occasionally on a breezy day such as today, light comes through the gaps in the clouds and pockets of light traverse over the landscape. This accounts for some fantastic landscape photography.

At the far top corner of the field you’ll see the stile to the main road, being the B1257 to Malton and Helmsley. We do not need to cross this road, we only walk along the grass verge for a brief time, in fact to the next junction.

In this distance you can see Cawton which is a hamlet we walk through shortly. This walk includes three individual North Yorkshire villages set in the Howardian Hills.


Birch Farm Junction and Bridleway

Oswaldkirk to Hovingham via Ebor Way


Heading the same direction beside the B1257 takes you to a turn off for Birch Farm. It is important to remember the first junction because the sign for Birch Farm is behind you and it is possible to miss it.

However, you will see the descent downhill and you may consider why there isn’t a public right of way across the foot of the hill as it would be much easier. I’m going to emphasise keeping your eyes peeled here because not only are there peacocks in this area, but you can sometimes witness a roe deer.

This is the second occasion I have seen deer in this area. If it has a kidney shaped white rump it is a male, otherwise if it is hart shaped then its a female. The last time I saw one here, I’d inadvertently cornered it against a gate. It escaped however into the field.

Again, the yellow arrows give you a strong indication to turn left at the foot of the descent and this part of the walk is an all too familiar bridleway, my favourite. At the bend, you will see Leysthorpe Hall which is a large house at the top of the hill.

You will see a right angled bend with a large farm gate with a pedestrian gate attached. We don’t encounter much in the way of livestock on our route today, but in this area it is important to ensure the gate is closed.

As far as bridleways go, this one is in perfect order for the most part. Very easy to walk on and follow. Considering we are in the Howardian Hill’s, it is surprisingly flat from now on until we reach Hovingham. You receive these enormous yellow fields and what they contain is dependent on the time of year. I always enjoy the bright yellow luminance of oil seed rape that is generally ready in the spring.

It’s a little Alice in Wonderland material down here and you sometimes wonder where’s the tea party. And it’s not as if it isn’t teaming with life. There are hares and rabbits often, as well as birdlife. It’s somewhat of a menagerie and unspoilt.

Of course, now you can see Oswaldkirk in its full form in the distance. In fact, sometimes when it is not so greened up, you can see Ampleforth as well, as its just a further two miles away.

I had hoped for some blue skies today, but in fact, grey skies can make some interesting photography too. I would say that photos in sunny weather make the best shots because you have lots of light to play with, and people like to see bright sunny photos. However, in landscape photography, dramatic grey or stormy skies can generate a really interesting photo too. I like the summer for photography as you receive a great deal of light to play with from sunrise to sunset, but the downside is heavy shadows.

If you have a camera with you, setting your aperture to f16 is great for landscape photography but ensuring your ISO isn’t too low. Your camera will work out the shutter speed. Today it is breezy, and if you are taking a photo of a swaying flower head, use a fast shutter speed of around 1/500 of a second otherwise it will be returned blurred.

The bridleway, or namely Ebor Way, comes to a wooded section where you might become unstuck. You might see other bridleways and wonder if you should turn off, but just keep going straight ahead.

I know I always mention this, but it is important, it’s a good idea to look behind you on any walk because you can receive some great views which you might miss.

Aforementioned, it is extremely windy today, and towards the back end of the year, this can make it much colder. Granted, we tend to generate our own heat while walking, yet it is important to dress for the climate.

With the cloudy skies, the sun created a natural spotlight projected on the village of Oswaldkirk. Sometimes the sun through the dark clouds looks like some kind of aerial searchlight, but you get these fantastic pockets of light floating across the landscape.

The track turns into the typical bridleway with a grass stripe in the middle and this leads us to a field. Of course, the crop is abundant and the farmers have had a great year with the warm sunshine and the episodes of rainfall. A complete contrast to last year I believe.

In the distance to the left of you, you will notice another road. This road comes from the direction of Gilling which I think is a stunning village, again set in the Howardian Hills. You can walk down a lane from Gilling to Cawton and Hovingham there, the lane we meet shortly.

You eventually meet a field at the opposite side of a kind of hump backed bridge. I’m not sure if this bridge has always been wall-less or if it at one time had them. Still it carries you over this trickling beck known as Holbeck.

Here we cross the bridge and we enter through a gate with a view to turning left around the field edge.

We walk around the edge of the field to meet another gate and another field, heading more closer to Cawton. Please be mindful that you don’t tread on any crops – and I meant that more for me than you.

I know I’m always giving safety advice in my videos, but as way of reminder, always bring water and something to eat with you, even if its just a bar of chocolate, and wear clothing for the season and keep dogs on leads where farm animals reside. Remember to close the gates too!

So we now go through another gate after negotiating some stones dragged from the field.


The Hamlet of Cawton

Oswaldkirk to Hovingham via Ebor Way


In this field, we can just walk straight through in a diagonal, indicated by this ready made route through the crop. It kind of feels like you’re doing something naughty and illegal but in fact its not. I hope.

As we are early August, we can see that some of the crop has been harvested and there are some cylinder shaped bales about. I love them because they make good photos and they also make good seats, at least the rectangular ones do.

It’s interesting to see these fluffy golden fields against the green fields against them.

On your left, you’ll see a large farm which is the beginning of the small village of Cawton. Actually, I’m not that certain if Cawton is a village or a hamlet, but in any case it is not a huge settlement.

I kind of find this track the hardest because of the long wet grass, especially if it’s a heavy dew. But we access the gate and head up to the road that leads in and out of Cawton.

Here we turn left through the village indicated by the millstone with a Cawton sign adorning it. Cawton is a marker in a sense because it indicates you are half way to Hovingham.

The village, or hamlet, doesn’t have any side streets, it’s just situated down one lane. There’s no public house or post office, although I believe that a mobile post office operates in the local area.

On the right hand side, there is a stone structure and I discovered from an old map that it is remnant of an historic quarry that once existed here.

You will also notice Cawton Hall on your right hand side too and you will also notice that Wednesday is bin day!

In any case, its a lovely village, or hamlet, very tranquil and idyllic. All constructed with this creamy local stone. The majority of properties in the Howardian Hills tend to be constructed with stone which I personally favour.

I also encountered the guardian of the post box too. This giant cockerel will ensure that your mail is well protected prior to collection.

Cawton also has its own mini-garden centre which I thought was a nice touch and Spring Hill Farm was also distributing cooking apples the last time I was here. And Spring Farm plays a role in our route this morning as it marks a turn off for Hovingham. You will know it is the correct farm owing to it’s milk churn outside.

It’s at this point the road splits and we find another track which we take, again well indicated with a sign on a wooden post. Google Maps labels this track as Hovingham Road and although it takes us to Hovingham, I am unsure if this is really its name. You cannot drive to Hovingham this way, but it is where it takes us on foot.

On your left is a wood and this area of the Howardian Hills is very much adorned with dense woodland. No doubt they will attract a great deal of wildlife in this area.

There are typically other forms of life too including horse enjoying the summer breeze as well as the lush grass.

The track on this section of the walk is similar to Birch Farm, it is in very good condition and looks well maintained. It’s these plain and simple bridleways and paths that makes the walk very easy to accomplish. Possibly the only person I saw down here was a cyclist, although a farmer and his spouse came down with all terrain vehicle.

As Cawton disappears behind you, you can find your self down this idyllic path with trees on one side and crops on the other. In the distance you see the outstanding Howardian Hills too that adds to the flavour of the walk.


A Walk of the Wild Flower Side

Oswaldkirk to Hovingham via Ebor Way


Along this section are plenty of wild flowers such as these cow parsley flowers. However, they were sometimes being ganged upon by some hornets such as these dandelions. The poppies had no escape too.

In the summer, poppies are a favourite of mine with their bright red bold flowers against a contrasting green background. They look good on their own but amazing when they are part of a colony.

The woodland kind of moves away and you can see more woodland in the distance ahead of you. However, we do more than just see a woodland, because you walk through a little of it.

You will pass a private dwelling on your left which must be an amazing place to live owing to the woodland and the views.

North Yorkshire cannot be described as the windiest place on the planet, yet when the wind blows it can blow. Sadly, this has consequences and I witnessed a large branch over the track ahead of me which I was successful in negotiating.

I absolutely love these stone pens and outbuildings that you find. You tend to see them alot around North Yorkshire, and often times on the moors but not exclusively so. I always think they make interesting features to a landscape photo. This has a warning sign not to approach it so it must be very fragile.

We’re not too far from Hovingham now and you find yourself within some stunning scenery with green hills surrounding and fields bristling with uneaten food. My intention was to head straight for the village, but I was distracted by another wooden sign post. Watch this space.

I am a little partial to Hovingham and it is purely bias. This is because I spent my formative years in Hovingham which is situated between Malton and Helmsley on the B1257. It is an amazing place to grow up and I attended the COE school in the village. The village has changed a lot and yet it hasn’t. It still doesn’t have any street lights which is fantastic especially for stargazing.

I adore harvest season, combined harvesters, tractors and trailers as well as balers that are used to gather up what’s left for the livestock in the winter. A bare field adorned with circular bales makes some interesting photography especially if different lighting such as early morning or before sundown. In landscape photography, I’ve mentioned before how we should look out for patterns and geometric shapes that return some stunning results.


Hovingham and the Ornamental Bridge

Oswaldkirk to Hovingham via Ebor Way


On noticing Home Farm to the right, there was another wooden sign as I mentioned earlier. So I decided to deviate form the Ebor Way and go and explore hoping that it would take me to the ornamental bridge, part of Hovingham Hall.

I found a well maintained grassy path that took you around the edge of a field and among stunning views.

When I arrived at the bridge, so had the rain and a small heard of cows. Still, I received a great view of the almost front of Hovingham Hall. The main entrance to the hall however is actually at the rear.

I love this bridge, and I used to come here when I was as young as it was only down the road. Imagine having this in your front garden as a view form the bedroom window.

Cows tend to be very inquisitive animals and if there are calfs around, they can get a little protective. My sanity is often questioned when I acknowledge them as I walk by.

Hovingham Hall was constructed by the Worsley family who have reside in the area since the 16th century at Hovingham Manor, and the hall was not constructed until the 18th century. It has also been the childhood home of the Duchess of Kent. It was built in limestone ashlar and also contains Westmoreland slate roofs. Interestingly, this Grade I listed building has an attached stable wing that is actually the main entrance owing to there once being a riding school. So the rear of the house is in a way the front of the house too. Hovingham Hall has existed since 1150 although not completed until 1174 designed by Thomas Worsley who’s memorial is found in the village. 

If you are feeling the force of hunger, Hovingham has a tearoom known as The Park as well as a Post Office and store. Hovingham Bakery also has a tearoom as well as a delicious bakery next to Marrs Beck with a ford. There is also the Cricketers Bar at Worsley Arms Hotel as well as the recently refurbished Hovingham Inn which I can personally recommend.

The property I once lived in still exists today and the road is just as busy with no street lighting. The reason being is because street lamps would spoil the appearance of the village.

The church you will hear on the hour is All Saint’s Church close by to Hovingham Hall. It is also not far from my former school which I still remember very well.

We have enjoyed our walk today and we hope you enjoy yours too. Until next time!


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