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Gilling East to Ampleforth Walk North Yorkshire

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The following video pertains to Gilling East to Ampleforth Walk North Yorkshire. This walk is where we follow an easy route through the Howardian Hills. However, we met up with some confusion that took a turn for the best!

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Gilling East to Ampleforth North Yorkshire

Gilling East

Gilling East to Ampleforth Walk North Yorkshire

In this episode we will be taking a scenic walk from Gilling East to Ampleforth while dipping into Yearsley Woods. Here we discover two lakes as well as Gilling Castle along with it’s very idyllic avenue. We will then cross country to the village of Ampleforth taking in views of the abbey.

Today we’re starting a walk in an extremely idyllic village known Gilling East and you can do a circuit walk back to Gilling instead of Ampleforth if you prefer. The village is set in the Howardian Hills, unspoilt, and has a beck flowing calmly through it. It has several landmarks including the Holy Cross Church that serves Gilling, Cawton and Grimston and dates back to around 1200. One thing that caught my attention was the memorial to those who lost their lives in the Great War. Most cities, towns and villages have a memorial of some kind, but I’d never seen one on a Church gateway before. One of the nicest aspects I like about the village is the narrow beck running through it known as Holbeck. Another church opposite is the Church of Our Lady and Holy Angels which serves as another local landmark.

As a treat at the end of perhaps before you start your walk is the Fairfax Arms Country Public House but there are also two public houses in Ampleforth as well. In any case, this is where I’m starting my route to Ampleforth this morning.


Gilling East to Ampleforth Walk North Yorkshire

Just at the right of the pub is a lane known as Pottergate, so I’m assuming at one time it had some association with pottery. However, this is just a wild guess! However, it is laced with some attractive cottages as well as something I hadn’t expect to see.

I stumbled across this former Victorian school house which has been converted into the local village hall. However, this village hall has a difference because it also has a sit on model railway in its grounds owned by the Ryedale Society of Model Engineers.

Beside the village hall and railway is a sign pointing across country to Ampleforth College taking just 2 miles. You might be wondering why the village name has a suffix of East beside it. This is to distinguish it from Gilling West near Richmond. In the 2011 census it had around 345 people living here.

The lane leaves the village and ventures alongside woodland on your left. You will also notice a road running parallel to your left side as well, so you will occasionally hear short spells of traffic.

Officially speaking, even though this is only a narrow lane, you are supposed to walk along the right hand side single file facing oncoming traffic. You might see a number of white minibuses around belonging to Ampleforth College.

At this point you receive some stunning views across farmland and over towards the Abbey you can see not too far away in the distance. Ampleforth Abbey has been used in the Harry Potter movies.

On your left you’ll notice a private path to St Martin’s which is a private school. In actual fact, it is Gilling Castle and it is no longer a private school, and it is something we return to later.

Typically most of the wheat harvesting is done prior to September so I was surprised to see a combined harvester this morning which appeared abandoned, so I am assuming the farmer has paused for breakfast.

The most prominent feature to this walk as well as the abbey is the fantastic woodland that initially begin to the left of us but we also walk through this woodland further on. It also features two large lakes, one larger than the other but equally stunning. This is a great walk to do in summer as the shade from the trees serves as a protection.

Admittedly, the route of today’s walk was not what we had planned, but after taking advice from two local dog walkers, we get to incorporate Gilling Castle as well as the Avenue.

In any case, you get to see the prominent landmark of Ampleforth Abbey and College as well so this walk contains some intriguing historical landmarks. In the distance however, you’ll see a farm approaching, but this farm isn’t as it seems.

So I met with this farm on the right with a handful of what I’m assuming are cottages for farm workers. This is where we come to a school of a different kind. Although the premises are part of Ampleforth Abbey Trust, this is a venue Autism Plus who help those with autism into employment, and what’s fantastic is they have chocolate making equipment and they sell their products! I was obviously tempted to go in, but I was far too early.

A little further on I noticed this tempting seat behind an old farm building, but I thought it was way to early in the walk to rest up. However, if you do this walk and purchase chocolate, this is probably the place to enjoy it.

Heading further towards the Pottergate’s entry into Yearsley Woods, I received further reminders of the end of harvest time. So the fields en-route were adorned with circular bales placed at random. Geometric shapes such as these often make great photography if you have your camera with you.

It is interesting how we have barely begun this walk and already we have seen a former Victorian school house, a miniature railway, an abbey, a handmade chocolate shop, and some stunning scenery too. I promise you that it doesn’t end here.

The scenery is somewhat of a mixed bag which makes this route fantastic. You have views of historic buildings, rural farming land, woodland and also lakesides to enjoy. So if you wanted me to score this particular walking route, I’d give it full marks. Not only does it provide varying scenery, but it is also easy in terms of the lanes and paths being in good condition and there’s no walking through overgrown fields or public rights of way. One thing I will say is that the woodland is a working forest although I haven’t seen any activity today. So don’t be surprised to see heaps of logs stacked on top of each other as you pass.

You eventually come to a barrier before Pottergate enters the woodland, and of course this is just a barrier for vehicles and not pedestrians.

Entering the Yearsley Woods

Gilling East to Ampleforth Walk North Yorkshire

Once I passed the barrier I entered into this fantastic wood with the lane flowing through it. And it wasn’t too long before I was greeted with something of enormous interest to me.

First of Two Lakes

Gilling East to Ampleforth Walk North Yorkshire

If there is one thing that I enjoy its a lake. Granted these are not the sort of lakes you find in the Lake District, but this is the larger of two lakes. It kind of reminded me of certain parts of Dalby Forest when I looked over the waters such as Staindale Lake. The lake is also quite reedy in places which was nice to see too. There are platforms heading out over the water which was great to get a panoramic view of the lake. This body of water is surrounded by towering trees that are rustling in the wind and not only that but there were two elegant looking white swans in the distance. This was fitting because I finished this walk at the White Swan in Ampleforth.

Navigating Yearsley Woods

Gilling East to Ampleforth Walk North Yorkshire

After taking in views of the lake, we return to the main track through the woods with the lake side on our right. You’ll be glad that you did too because you can expect to see some stunning woodland. This walk is dog friendly in terms of location, however some of our canine friends may find this walk too long.

I stumbled across another tempting bench and again I thought it was far too soon in the walk to benefit from it. Still, it could be a great place to have your lunch if you have it with you.

Even with the trees as full of leaves as they are, you still receive some stunning views across the lake at times as you are a stones throw from the waters edge.

If you see holes in trees like this, it’s often a good idea to keep your eye on them as they typically serve as dwelling places for birdlife. Owls for example, often make use of hollows in trees and sometimes use abandoned nests.

The route ascends gently but at the point it is mainly flat and easy to manage. Obviously, in the Howardian Hills, there are some climbs but nothing that isn’t manageable for the able bodied walker. Much of the time ascents tend to be gradual.

Of course, bird boxes also tend to serve as dwelling places for bird life. You oftentimes see bird boxes installed in public spaces to encourage wildlife. However, in an area such as Ampleforth, I imagine they’d get full use with the diverse bird life here.

This woodland path is fantastic and the scenery is amazing in this area. You don’t just know where you are, but you feel where you are too. The scenery has North Yorkshire written all the way through it like a stick of rock from a seaside resort. Of course, the sudden changes in weather also testify to where you are as well!

Smaller Lake on Ampleforth Abbey Grounds

Gilling East to Ampleforth Walk North Yorkshire

So yes, the lake is large but smaller than the first we encountered. I’d imagine this will also carry as much in the way of aquatic life too. The water surface on the smaller lake had more in the way of vegetation on it and was more of a struggle for birds who float in nature. I attempted to do a little research into the names of these lakes but they are simply known as “The Lakes” on the official map available on the website. Regardless of its lack of name, it certainly wasn’t in lack of anything else because it was just as idyllic as the first lake we encountered.

I noticed one of two rope swings in this neck of the woods and here on Best North Yorkshire Walks, we always carry out a risk assessment as it were. This means it is my responsibility to try out the rope swing to ensure your safety. You’re fine.

One of the delights of this walk, in fact any wooded walk, is the light coming through the trees especially in summer. You tend to receive green areas lit up against more shady sections, kind of like spotlights in the wood. Photography is all about light and how you collect it through a lens. Therefore, areas like these where light contributes to the scene in a particular way really makes some fantastic photography.

Direction in the Forest

Gilling East to Ampleforth Walk North Yorkshire

Aforementioned, the route that I have taken today differs from the route that I had downloaded to my iPhone and thanks to local dog walkers I spoke to, they gave me a much more exciting alternative. There is a circular walk you can do in Yearsley Woods and we may return to document this route.

When we think of wildlife in the woodland, we consider animals and birds, yet there is more to wildlife than you think. Just at the rear of the smaller lake is a narrow path and at the other side is a bench where you can enjoy a drink and take in the scenery. And just above me was a bird of prey which I think may have been a sparrow hawk.

It is always a great idea to take a drink with you when enjoying a walk such as this, but there are also a number of eateries where you can conclude your walk. Ampleforth has two public houses as well as a cafe and shop. Gilling has a public house we encountered earlier and Ampleforth Abbey has a tearoom as well.

When you reach the junction at the top of the hill, we turn left towards what is known as The Avenue. All will be revealed in a moment.

Gilling Castle (St Martin’s Private School)

Gilling East to Ampleforth Walk North Yorkshire

The scenery now opens out into this sort of boulevard although it is not a street but a huge grassy expanse. This grassy expanse is lined with trees at both side with a straight path in the centre heading towards Gilling Castle. The enormous stretch of grass towards the castle is known as The Avenue.

At this point I was extremely pleased that I had modified our route today because the scenery here is stunning. This has added two further features to our route. When planning a walk, it is oftentimes a good idea to incorporate some local landmarks to make your route interesting.

Just over the summit of the hill, it now dips down with a complete view of Gilling Castle with the Sixth Tee Golf Course beside it.

Although there has been a presence since the 12th century associated with the de Etton family, the fortified Manor House we see today is from the 14th century. This was passed on from Thomas de Etton to his wife’s family the Fairfax’s where the public house gets its name, the Fairfax Arms.

Turning left we meet up with a cycle route where we head left in parallel with The Avenue which is a stunning tree lined path.

The Descent to Pottergate

Gilling East to Ampleforth Walk North Yorkshire

A further benefit to this walk is that the handmade chocolate shop we encountered earlier is just astride from the junction after heading downhill on the road. There are just some temptations you just cannot get rid of.

You might remember the turn off we encountered earlier with no access signs. I was told by both dog walkers that you can walk along here and many locals use it.

This route, which was completely unexpected, took me closer to the Abbey with some great views as a result. I saw a farmer in a tractor as well as someone from the Abbey itself and never told me off for me being there which was a relief. I also receive some fantastic views behind me too.

This lane took me past a farm on the right hand side as well as some farm outbuildings on the left hand side further along. I could see Ampleforth College on the right and the village to the left of me and it wasn’t too long before I touched the fringe of the village itself, finding the lane I should have been on in the first place.

So here you can either head on along the lane right towards the tearoom and the abbey and you can even walk beck to Gilling through the abbey grounds from here. Alternatively, you can head on over to Ampleforth village for the public houses, shop or cafe there. Buses run between Helmsley, Easingwold and York from here too.

We have enjoyed our walk today, we hope you enjoy yours. Until next time.

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