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Gilling to Easingwold via Yearsley Woods

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Granted, this isn’t the first time we have been in Gilling and the beginning of the walk covers a small part of where we have covered already. We are going to head over to Potter Lane as in our Gilling to Ampleforth episode and make our way to Easingwold via Yearlsey Woods.

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Castle Howard Best North Yorkshire Walks

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Gilling Village Hall and Miniature Railway

Gilling to Easingwold via Yearsley Woods

You may want to watch our Gilling to Ampleforth episode. You can also subscribe to our YouTube Channel.

You will probably remember the scenery across the Howardian Hills which is an area of outstanding beauty. The first landmark you’ll recall is the old Victorian School which is now a village hall. This is no ordinary village hall as it also contains a miniature railway which is owned by the Ryedale Society of Model Engineers. Sadly all of their events in 2020 have been cancelled owing to the pandemic. If you want to learn more, please see the accompanying webpage to this video where we have listed some useful links.

As you can see, I have began this walk early morning and in mid October, so I am in the midst of an attractive sunrise. However, as we are now in autumn, it is a foreshadow of the attractive gold colours that we receive in the entire walk today. This walk incidentally is the longest we have done so far, and is approximately 10 miles but can be modified. I’ll point these out en-route. It is a good idea to get someone to drop you off at Gilling so that you can pick up a bus to either York or Thirsk when you arrive in Easingwold. Alternatively, you can walk back the way you came.

The hills are aglow this morning in the wee hours and you may remember that you can see Ampleforth and the Abbey in the distance.

Obviously this year has been awkward owing to the pandemic and lockdown, so our plans this year have been compromised. I had hoped to visit locations in the dales as well as Saltburn but sadly our travel has been restricted. Therefore this route is a contingency for what we would have done if circumstances were better.

Still, this walk is not short of scenery and attractions. We encounter two lakes, a forested area, attractive villages, hills and valleys and much more.

Chocolate Factory and Autism Plus

Gilling to Easingwold via Yearsley Woods

You might remember the handmade chocolate factory and shop from our last visit which is managed by Autism Plus. This is known as Park House Barns and is a vital organisation that assists young adults with autism learn new skills. I can imagine possessing the ability to create chocolate products is essential during lockdown!

Large Lake

Gilling to Easingwold via Yearsley Woods

What is equally as exciting is the first of our two lakes. Just to add a little more interest to this episode, we are going to show you a little more of the lake than we did on the previous occasion. It is certainly worth heading down the path to take a look and return to the route afterwards.

This lake is the largest of two lakes as you might remember, and it certainly isn’t short of pleasant views as well as aquatic birds such as swan. The surrounding trees also adds to attractive reflections too.

A narrow path takes you beside the lake which you can walk around but we recommend doubling back on yourself to return to our route today. This is so you don’t lose your way.

The lakes and park are in the care of the Ampleforth Estate, but in any case, these lakes are an attractive place to visit during times when open space is vital. There are some platforms that stretch out over the water but please take care on these. Certainly do not access the water in summer time for a swim as it is unsafe.

Further along the path you will notice a footbridge with a sluice running underneath. As much as we would like to stay, we’ve still got a long way to walk yet!

A Woodland Walk

Gilling to Easingwold via Yearsley Woods

The reason we have chosen this route is because in wet winter weather, on some occasions you have the option of walking on a rural roadside, or in summer you can use the public rights of way across field. In Yearsley woods there are bridleways and even after heavy rainfall they are still ok to walk on. Obviously, were some purpose walking shoes or boots when venturing out on a walk such as this. As a precaution, don’t forget mud is the danger at this time of year as it is incredibly slippy as it moves underneath your shoes.

Yes, we met up with a golden sun this morning, but as the leaves are turning, we are receiving some very attractive reds and golds en-route. Autumn is a spectacular time when walking as it can get extremely vibrant. A benefit today is that we still have some contrasting green on the trees too which makes it even more pleasant.

At this point of the walk, it is vital to stick to this main path. You will occasionally meet up with junctions, but you should ensure you stay on the main bridleway heading forwards through the woodland. As the path bends at times, you may lose your sense of direction, but do not be alarmed at this. I will point out the correct turn off which is much further on.

As we have had recent heavy rainfall, the rising sun is producing a soft mist along our route today. Sometimes mist such as this can make some interesting photography, as does rays of light shining through the trees. So don’t forget to take a snap or two on your smartphone.

It doesn’t take too long before you reach the smaller of the two lakes which looks equally fantastic today. Certainly, don’t be shy of taking a few snaps here too!

These woods are a great place to walk your dog if you have one. However, a ten mile walk may outstretch their abilities depending on the breed of dog. Woodland such as this is great to exercise not only their legs but also their brain, sense of smell and hearing at the same time. Our golden lab spends much of his time swimming as much as walking, but I have noticed that he has a particular craving for woodland such as this.

We follow the path uphill so you might find yourself slightly out of breath but the gradient is gradual. It is at this point where we meet the junction where in our last visit we got slightly confused. On this occasion there is no confusion because we turn right at the junction towards the turn off to Yearsley.

Therefore your path should look something like this, except it might be mist free. The wood this morning may appear like a Swedish sauna but trust me it is not like this everyday. It doesn’t take too long before the mist lifts today especially as you ascend uphill.

On the subject of hills, this walk may be slightly more difficult for some but having said that the hills are not steep. It is more of a case of frequency rather than height. Aforementioned, what is beneficial about this walk is that you can use the rural roads in winter, ensuring that you walk on the right and in view of oncoming traffic. As rule, I try to encourage keeping away from roads but in winter it is sometimes a better option owing to boggy fields.

You’ll eventually reach a junction with a right turn, simply ignore this and head straight on. It is straight ahead all the way until we reach our turn off. It is at this point we meet another hill but nothing that the able bodied person cannot manage.

Another benefit of this walk is the varied scenery. Presently we are walking through woodland, but already we have encountered a valley, an old Victorian School and railway, hills, two lakes and a densely forested area. Standby as there is more to come.

Old Nissen Hut Piper Hill Plantation

Gilling to Easingwold via Yearsley Woods

As you walk straight across the crossroads, sticking to the main bridleway, you will turn a bend and discover this structure. In honesty, I was not certain what this was used for. At first glance you may think it would be an anderson shelter of some kind. Having said this, it would be an unusual location to have one. So on research I found out that it is known as Old Nissen Hut belonging to the Piper Hill Plantation. Nissen Huts were used extensively in the second world war for military purposes, but they were designed by a British- Canadian known as Peter Nissen. You see, walks can also stimulate human brains as well as our canine friends.

Again you gently receive a reminder that you are in the Howardian Hills and you walk up hill admiring the tree’s as you pass. Again you might encounter some routes heading into the wood but remember to always stick to the main bridleway until we meet our turn off.

At this point we actually head downhill slightly which makes a refreshing change. Google Fit and the Apple Health App tend to record how many flights of stairs you have achieved for the day. For me today, the Health app on my iPhone questioned if I was a light aircraft in a hailstorm in which I touched the “I’m not flying” button.

Even at this height I could still see some mist in amongst the trees which makes great video and photography. In addition, again there was some superb colours in the trees and the golden bracken at this time. We speak of walks such as this being stimulating the dogs but humans are not exempt either. Walking is a great form of exercise for both your physical and mental health and it certainly helps you to sleep sound at night. Walking is an exercise that a majority of us can accomplish, and it is good to set yourself goals as far as distance is concerned.

Eventually you will find a sharp bend to the right as well as a green field on the left which opens out the scenery slightly. However, don’t be deceived because we are not out of the woods just yet.

I did notice an electric fence so if you have a dog with you, you might have to hang on to him or her for a while. Stimulation is one thing, but receiving a voltage through the nose is quite another.

Again you are up and down slightly which in fact makes it more scenic and fun if not a little more challenging. In any case, once you reach this point you will know that we are not far from our turn off point.

When walking through a wood like this, don’t forget to occasionally look up at the trees and even behind you so you don’t miss anything. Be vigilant because you can also see a great deal of wildlife in the woods too.

You’ll see a turn off to the right but again we ignore this and head straight on. The turn off we are looking for is a main bridleway that turns to the left and directly uphill. This one.

However, if you want to walk to Ampleforth as a modification, walk further onwards. You will know that you have taken the correct turning almost immediately because at the top of the hill is a structure you simply cannot miss. Let’s just say, you won’t be short of a phone signal at this point in time, so if you see this you’re going the correct direction for Yearsley. This bridleway is very short and you soon come to a rural road at the top of the hill.

Brandsby to Yearsley Road

Gilling to Easingwold via Yearsley Woods

At the road, which by the way is the Brandsby to Yearsley road, you turn right for the village of Yearsley. However, if you have left your car at Gilling and desire a shorter walk, you can return the way you came.

Walking on the right hand side of the road facing oncoming traffic, you will eventually meet a crossroads. You also meet a crossroads in your route as well because you can either turn right where we are heading in this video, or take a shorter version through the village and turning left for Oulston at the junction. You could also turn left for another shorter route to Easingwold, coming out at a junction we meet up with later. However, in my opinion this road is more busier than the route we are taking today.

Walking past a bus shelter, we head straight on until we get to the first junction. You’ll see a wooden footpath sign for Ampleforth which is another variation to this walk. On the opposite side of the road is a sign for Coxwold at 4 miles which is the route we are going to take today. There are to points of interest on this route which is why I am heading this way.

Coxwold Road

Gilling to Easingwold via Yearsley Woods

Again, crossing the road carefully and walking on the right hand side, be vigilant for traffic including vans, lorries and farm traffic, follow the lane until we get to a junction. The road isn’t that busy but it pays to keep your eyes and ears open. On blind bends, I recommend walking on the grass verge as it is safer. There are also a couple of blind summits on this route too.

In any case, the woodland scenery continues for a while with occasional openings. Again, in autumn this is a spectacular walk to do, especially if it isn’t raining and visibility is clear.

At an opening in the trees, it is a good idea to cross the road to view the hills. You will also notice a reservoir which is Oulston Reservoir in the distance. This is one of the reasons to walk this route. The River Foss is in fact not that far away, York’s smaller river, and this route is part of the Foss Way.

On the opposite side of the road, you will also see the White Horse at Kilburn from time to time which is our second reason for walking this way to Oulston. You may want to finish your walk in Coxwold as you can pick up the Helmsley to York bus from here. The bus stop is at the garage.

It is certainly recommended to bring a drink and a bite to eat with you because the shops on this route are at Easingwold at the end of the walk. Gilling sadly doesn’t have a shop but it does have a public house. Yearsley and Oulston are only small villages and at the time of this video don’t have a local shop.

You’ll eventually come to a farm on the left and you will notice some public rights of way across country. If the ground is dry, you may want to take advantage of these, but today we have a theme of winter walks!

Just like the woods, this route does have some ups and downs but they make the walk more interesting and mildly challenging. Still, we are going to continue alongside the road until we reach the junction for Oulston. From this vantage point you occasionally receive some fantastic views over the Howardian Hills. Of course, as we are walking to Easingwold, we are crossing over from the Howardian Hills into the Vale of York.

There seems to be endless public rights of way on this road, and there seems to be a network of paths all over this area and somewhat of a warren.

When the scenery opens out at both sides then you should be able to see the white horse at Kilburn by now, bearing in mind we are just a couple of miles from Coxwold. However, both sides of the road bare some amazing scenery and you will also see Oulston village approaching on the left hand side of you.

You see, this is the reason I’m sticking to the roads! At this time of year fallen leaves can be slippery, but in my opinion and experience, mud is much worse and uncontrollably moves underneath your feet causing you to lose your balance. I’m sure that neither of us have had this experience, have we?

Junction to Oulston

Gilling to Easingwold via Yearsley Woods

Following a dry stone wall on the right, you will eventually see some toperised gardens prior to seeing a giveway sign for Coxwold and Oulston. At this junction we turn left around a sharp bend towards the village of Oulston. However, if you want to catch a bus from Coxwold towards York you might want to turn right instead. Bare in mind however, that there are more buses between York and Easingwold than Coxwold.

It is only a stones throw to the village but please be careful when walking around the sharp bends. This is when your eyes and ears come in very handy.

Your first sign of Oulston is a farm and another sharp bend which takes you into a very idyllic and attractive village. It is also paved at either side of the road so you can take your mind off traffic for a moment of two. There is also a phone box with a defibrillator in case the hills have effected you adversely, as well as some benches. I sat beside the village hall only to find my sandwich was a write off, but my mince pie was still edible. Let’s be thankful for small flavours.

You simply follow the road through this amazingly scenic village and it is best to use the path on the left side as the right hand side path ends.

Again you receive some amazing scenery, but there rarely is any scenery that isn’t amazing in the Howardian Hills. The elevated path is narrow but takes you safely around a right hand bend getting closer to Easingwold.

At a cottage en-route I noticed these lantern style flowerheads which are known as Japanese Lanterns. Unlike Chinese Lanterns, these are not reported as UFO sightings.

On the right hand side of the road you will see that the Foss Way leaves the road and heads across the field towards Easingwold. However, as it is extremely wet, we are going to continue on the road to prevent any mud related incidents. I didn’t see any bulls in the field, but if it is with a heard of cows they tend to be less of a danger. Never attempt to enter a field with a bull on its own.

Walking on the right hand side of the road will take you further, and drier, towards Easingwold. Although the market town is not really that far away from here, it is difficult to see owing to hills. Therefore don’t be alarmed if you can’t see Easingwold in the distance.

On both sides of the road, especially when there are gaps in the hedging, you will witness some amazing views across the Vale of York. Vale of course means a large expanse of flat land which York is famous for. At this point, we are on the boundary of the Howardian Hills and the Vale of York which are in contrast of each other.

What is great about this walk is the varied scenery as I mention, and now we are out in open space instead of a dense woodland. And it is quite a vista at times. Of course, when you look from Sutton Bank you can see for miles, and it is not that dissimilar here. You may not have the same height as Sutton Bank but you can still see way out into the distance with the Howardian Hills behind you.

Crossroads for Yearsley

Gilling to Easingwold via Yearsley Woods

Remember the crossroads at Yearsley? Well, if you had turned left at the crossroads, this is where you would have come out, making it a shorter route, eliminating Oulston as a calling point. On the sign it tells you that Easingwold is 3 miles but I believe that may not be so accurate as it seemed shorter. In any case, we follow the sign to Easingwold by turning right at the crossroads.

This isn’t a hugely busy road but still caution is required as there are some blind curves. If it wasn’t for the hills you would possibly see Easingwold from here, but there is one hill we are approaching that obscures it’s view.

In any case, you can see far and wide across agricultural fields and I can also see a threatening dark cloud in the distance now. It is a good idea to stand in an access to the field as you get a better view between the hedgerows.

As with any walk you do, it is often a good idea to remember to look behind you so that you don’t miss anything. If you do the same walk on more than one occasion, it is oftentimes a good idea to get a different perspective by doing the route the opposite direction.

This is the hill that obscures Easingwold, yet there is a public right of way across the field. As it might be boggy however, I am going to stay on the road today to prove this is a walk you can do in winter months.

As the dark cloud approaches, I can just start to see a rainbow forming in the distance. I love to see a rainbow, but it also serves as a warning because it generally means approaching rain showers!

When you approach the hill there is a right angled bend in the road that meets a junction to Crayke. However, we are following the road around to Easingwold which is now a mile and a half away. This is why I got confused with mileage because it didn’t feel as if I’d walked a mile and a half from the last signpost.

Now I look over the opposite side of this bailed field, I can see that I could possibly get wet at any given moment. However, I was fortunate because it seemed to bypass Easingwold altogether. Still, I received some contrasting colours and light at this point. Oftentimes, a perfect blue skies bring some great photography, but some more dramatic dark skies can also render a fantastic landscape photographs. Wheat fields and dark stormy skies can bring out some amazing photos. The rainbow I noticed began to form a larger span over the Vale of York which looked amazing.

Along this section of the route there are a couple of farms and one had a warning sign about slow moving agricultural vehicles as well as mud on the road. No mention of walkers though.

It was difficult not to admire the rainbow and keep an eye on the road at the same time. I was trying not to see it as a metaphor in relation to Boris Johnson and Covid 19, completely in over his head.

The mud continues for just a little while longer but the good news is that your feet can have a rest in the immediate future, not that I am regretting my walk this morning as I am very much enjoying it.

Approaching Easingwold

Gilling to Easingwold via Yearsley Woods

If you look way into the distance on your left hand side, you will see York Minster on a clear day. This cathedral can be seen from miles away owing to the fact that you’re not permitted to build higher than this structure in the city centre. Therefore this walk contains some significant landmarks, an abbey, two lakes, a reservoir, the white horse and so forth.

One caution is a blind summit which prevents you from seeing any approaching traffic. Fortunately for those on foot, there is an established path on the side of the road which you can use until you get to the top of the hill. You’ll be glad that you’ve reached the top however because Easingwold is a just a few more steps away!

Of course, Easingwold is a small market town but it contains many places to make up for the calories that you have just burned. You can follow the sign from here to the market place. As with most market towns, there are bakeries, cafe’s and restaurants, supermarkets and public houses available.

As you walk down the hill you will notice the town hall where you can hop on a Reliance Bus to York if you need to. There are toilets and benches here too. If you are going back to Gilling for your car, you could simply walk back through Yearsley from the crossroads we encountered a moment ago. We hope you enjoy your walk, until next time!

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