Places to Visit in North Yorkshire
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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

So 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 is 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. 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. Ooh how I wish it was open! My local village hall is not really that exciting and I live next door to it!

Beside the village hall and railway is a sign pointing across country to Ampleforth College taking just 2 miles. Well, if you want to do the 2 mile walk and miss everything, this is your choice. However, we’re taking the scenic route! Don’t worry about not receiving views of the Abbey because it’s a prominent landmark that cannot be missed.

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.

When walking on a road, officially you are supposed to walk on the right hand side facing oncoming traffic. On a narrow lane with passing places I always try to walk on the right but I sometimes venture leftwards without thinking!

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. It’s kind of similar to York Minster because it serves as an enormous landmark that can be see from far away. It’s another coincidence how they both deal in religious education as well. However, there’s another landmark or perhaps sky-mark captured here.

On your left you’ll notice a private path to St Martin’s which is a private school, or at least for the moment as it is shortly to close. Watch this space as we unexpected come back to this shortly.

In the beginning of September, harvest time is practically over or so I thought until I saw this combined harvester which appeared to be abandoned. So either the farmer’s gone for his breaky or he’s been abducted by aliens. I imagine however, it will be something less prosaic. In any case, you really get a feel for the size of Ampleforth Abbey and College when you see it from afar.

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. As I say, the branches serve as a protection from rain and strong sunshine, and today I get to enjoy both!

Another feature was getting lost on this route but as it happened it turned out for the best. At one stage, although I was originally on the right route according to the map I had on my phone, a local told me to walk the opposite direction to Ampleforth but it turned out that both directions were correct in a sense. I got help from another dog walker further on – so all this is to come shortly! The confusion as I say, worked out for the best because I was able to include some further interesting landmarks.

In any case, you get to see the prominent landmark of Ampleforth Abbey and College but still no sign of the farmer however. In the distance however, you do see a farm, but this farm isn’t as it seems. Oh phew! He hasn’t been abducted by aliens!

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! How cool and tempting is that! I admit it, I really wanted to go in, but I began this walk pretty early and people were just arriving.

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 take a breather. 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 the woodland, I received further reminders of the end of harvest time. So the fields en-route were adorned with circular bales placed at random, somewhat like my head this morning. Geometric shapes such as these often make great photography if you have your camera with you.

These were famous last words, because as I previously mentioned, I get somewhat confused when it comes to a junction further on. Still it worked out for the better in the end. It’s good to listen to advice from locals so don’t be afraid to ask if you see someone. Generally, people are pretty helpful. On the right however, you see a road that states no access. However, a later found out from a dog walker that it takes you to Ampleforth and the signs are there to discourage visitors from using it, yet many locals use it often. Watch this space that’s all I’m going to say at this point!

The scenery is somewhat of a mixed bag which makes this route fantastic. You have views of Ampleforth Abbey, 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 Wood on Ampleforth Abbey Grounds

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 when I met with Ampleforth, the White Swan was my first port of call. If I’d seen a black sheep at this point it would have been equally fitting as I had a pint of Black Sheep too.

Navigating the Forest

Gilling East to Ampleforth Walk North Yorkshire

So yes, you don’t use the grassy way but rather stick to lane walking around the edge of the lake to your right hand side. And you’ll be glad you did too because it really is very scenic and makes a relaxing walk especially when you are surrounded by trees as well as calming water.

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 abled 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. Having said this, there are several bird boxes installed in a wooded area near to where I live, but all I’ve ever seen is a wasp go in through the hole and never return. 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 too!

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 pond 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.

It also wasn’t short of a rope swing or two on this route. I was kind of expecting Tarzan to swing from tree to tree like a trapeze artist but I might have to drink some more Black Sheep ale first. It’s probably more likely to be owls and other birds leaping from tree to tree here.

Swiftly limping on, this scenic wooded path takes you uphill at this point, and I think this is probably the steepest section but manageable.

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.

Confusion in the Forest

Gilling East to Ampleforth Walk North Yorkshire

In actually fact, concerning the route on my phone I was right to turn right at the junction as this will eventually take you back to Ampleforth College. However, turning left also is correct, and I’m glad I inadvertently altered the route thanks to the local dog walker, as I discovered something of enormous interest. Watch this space!

After narrowly avoiding a large black slug with my leaky Karimoor walking shoes, I found a great place to take a breather other than the White Swan in Ampleforth. This lakeside seat allowed me opportunity to fortify myself with some Lucozade Orange. And just above me was a bird of prey which I think may have been a sparrow hawk.

Actually, for an end of walk treat there are several pubs to choose from in Gilling East and Ampleforth. I’m teaching you my bad habits I know, but I think its always a great idea to end a fantastic walk with a visit to a cafe or public house and you can choose from a menu how to replace the calories you’ve burned. For me, as I was dropped off at Gilling, I had a bus to catch back to York from Ampleforth so it was a quick pint of Black Sheep in the White Swan, but I’m not favouring any pub above another.

Well actually, both ways are right, but this is the best way to go and you are just about to find out why just as I did. Therefore I’m recommending a left turn at the top of the hill.

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. This is why I’m glad I took that left turn!

Simple things please simple minds I suppose. But yes, to say I was impressed was an understatement and I was really grateful for the confusion at this point. I knew at this point it was going to be good!

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. I was told that the castle which is currently a private school may be closed around December time.

So in which case we turn left not right at the Castle, and I’m almost tempted to emulate Ray Mears and grab a bramble.

The Descent to Pottergate

Gilling East to Ampleforth Walk North Yorkshire

Amusingly enough, at the end of the cycle path you turn right downhill and this takes you back to Pottergate near the Chocolate Shop we were at earlier! How do I get to Ampleforth? Only one choice!

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 they never batted an eye-lid to 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.

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