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Skelton to Beningbrough Hall River Ouse Walk

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The video below is pertaining to Overton to Beningbrough Hall River Ouse Walk. We take a scenic River Ouse walk between Ferry’s Corner at Overton to merge with a circular walk at Beningbrough Hall. This is a two part episode, part one is the route up to Beningbrough Hall and part two is the circular walk at Beningbrough Hall itself.

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Skelton to Beningbrough Hall Best North Yorkshire Walks
Beningbrough Hall Best North Yorkshire Walks
Skelton to Beningbrough Hall Best North Yorkshire Walks
Beningbrough Hall Best North Yorkshire Walks
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Overton and Stripe Lane

Beningbrough Hall

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Skelton to Beningbrough Hall River Ouse Walk

Getting to Ferry’s Corner Overton

Skelton to Beningbrough Hall River Ouse Walk

In this episode, we are going to take a very scenic riverside walking route between the villages of Skelton, Overton and Beningbrough and joining a circular walk at Beningbrough Hall. Not only do we enjoy the scenery but discover a lot more than what we might expect!

To get to Overton from the A19 north of York, find the Blacksmith Arms public house at the village of Skelton, postcode is YO30 1XW. On the opposite side of the road is the turn off to Overton which is around a mile away. The lane is quite narrow, known locally as Stripe Lane. You will pass the Granchester Caravan and Camping Site that has recently been established before passing by the “Skelton” sign on the opposite side. This straight road takes you over a beck with access to the cycle route into York. On the left you will see limited parking available, mainly used by local dog walkers. You can park your car here and walk on the right hand side under the East Coast Mainline. Please be careful as you head on through the tunnel. The lane continues gradually up a hill with passing places until you reach the top with a right angle bend. At this sharp bend is a series of farmers gates to access fields. There is also an opening for pedestrians to pass through following a bridleway down to the River Ouse.

The bridleway used to have a public right of way sign which mysteriously disappeared along with another wooden sign at the bottom of the descent. There is very limited parking here too, but at present there is a pile of stones preventing parking. Another alternative is to park in Skelton itself which doesn’t require a permit.

The bridleway gradually descends to the River Ouse and merges with the York to Newton On Ouse public right of way. As the footbridge is out, the path to York is presently closed by North Yorkshire County Council. However, we are turning right and following the river northbound. On the opposite bank of the River Ouse you will see the large village of Poppleton. You may see a private boat or two berthed there.

This public right of way takes you alongside the River Ouse bound for Newton On Ouse which is the village close by to Beningbrough Hall. Over the river you will see a monument with some seating available. There was once a ferry crossing here, and I have always assumed that this monument was associated with it, but information is limited.

As you are constantly by a river course, the path is extremely easy to walk along as there are no steep hills to climb. The River Ouse’ name incidentally is a historic name meaning slow moving river originating from the Danes.

At this point the River Ouse and path bends to the right with a field beside you. If you have begun your walk at the correct time, you may witness all manner of wildlife including otter, mink, kingfisher, roe deer, red fox and more. I always find that the earlier you go, the more in the way of wildlife you see, and of course, less in the way of people.

Fish and Fishing on the River Ouse

Skelton to Beningbrough Hall River Ouse Walk

En route to Beningbrough Hall, you will see posts with numbers on them. These posts mark fishing platforms that I have recently found out belong to Mitre Angling in Rawcliffe, a suburb of York nearby. You can often see Perch, Roach, Pike and Bream in the River Ouse and every now and then you will see fishermen in the area. On both sides of the river are some private fishing platforms that look like modified pallets. They often tend to serve as a good measuring gauge for the river as they tend to be either well above the river level or beneath the waters. In wintertime, the Ouse regularly burst its banks which renders them useless and they tend to get damaged somewhat by floodwater. Sadly, they are poorly maintained and they tend not to be very safe, so please do not venture out onto these. I also discovered one that has already collapsed and the debris including long nails had been left beside it. Therefore be extremely careful if you have a dog and children with you as obviously exposed nails and unstable platforms are incredibly dangerous.

On the subject of dogs, you can take large dogs so far but they tend to be hindered by mesh fencing as well as styles along the way. However, the circular walk at Beningbrough is dog friendly.

You will see some of the domestic dwellings at Overton, which is a small hamlet that is extremely idyllic. It also lies on the cycle route between York and Beningbrough.

The path takes you through a line of trees and at the opposite side you will come to a style. If you have a dog with you, local dog walkers lift up the mesh fence to allow their dogs to crawl underneath like some kind of canine assault course. On the subject of assault, this next stretch can be a little inundated with nettles, and this is why shorts are not the best choice in menswear. Its the nettle hairs that contain the formic acid, a defence against herbivores eating them.

To Pastures New

Skelton to Beningbrough Hall River Ouse Walk

Of course, Dandelions have a more gentle nature and there has been an enormous amount of them this year which, like me, have almost all turned white with age. You come to a kissing gate and you will see a notice to keep the gates closed owing to livestock. However, interestingly, most of the gates don’t close properly on this particular route for one reason or another. However, it is advisable to ensure that they are closed to the extent they can be.

When I venture this way, I am often greeted by friendly horses or sheep at this point. You will also receive more of a view of the hamlet of Overton as well as Church Farm, and there is a public right of way up to the village alongside the farm.

However, we are going to keep, not swimming, but walking upstream through some fantastic green pasture ground.

Waterfowl in Form of Swans

Skelton to Beningbrough Hall River Ouse Walk

It is not uncommon to find a swan or two on the River Ouse in the York area, but I was surprised to see so many swans today adorning the river. In fact, the last time I saw so many flock together was at Stockton on Tees. So this was a pleasant surprise this morning.

Swans are in fact the largest of the waterfowl family as well as being among the largest flying birds as they can reach a length of 1.5m or 59 inches. They can weigh as much as 15kg or 33 lbs. These elegant birds with long slender necks also have teeth in the form of jaggered edges on their bills. It is more common to see their closest relatives geese on the River Ouse, so it is very unusual to see a large flock of them here today. Although swans and geese are related, swans have much larger webbed feet and necks, and the males also have unfeathered skin around their eyes.

Walking and Grazing by the Ouse

Skelton to Beningbrough Hall River Ouse Walk

This particular stretch beside the River Ouse I really enjoy largely because of the expanse of pasture ground for wandering sheep and other livestock. I often found sheep being curious of me as I passed, and sometimes they would follow me to the opposite fence. Unfortunately, they were absent today.

The only thing that spoils this particular landscape is the power lines that cross the river, and to be honest, not everyone is comfortable in their presence. However, the exposure is only brief.

However, not only is this huge green expanse full of grass to graze, but the gentle hills tend to wave upwards and downwards as you walk along. As the River Ouse reflects the skies above owing to its still waters, the path follows the green belt beside it. You will sometimes notice people walking on the opposite bank as a path exists from Poppleton to Moor Monkton.

You eventually come to another stile and it is best to keep as close to the river as you can on the established path leading up to it. You will see some trees on your left popular with any livestock if present, as well as some gorse bushes that up until recently looked fantastic with their bright amber coloured flowers. The Ouse at present is quite low owing to a lack of rainfall.

Yes, it is important to wear the correct clothing for the climate, but it also needs to be the correct clothing for the activity too. Walking and hiking trousers tend to be thin and elasticated and dry quickly after a sudden downpour. As they are thin, it is like wearing shorts anyway. In winter, you can wear a warm base underneath them, and this need not be expensive and it pays to shop around.

Ah! Roadblock!

The River, The Walker and The Cow Drove

Skelton to Beningbrough Hall River Ouse Walk

Yes it is not a bad thing and not lunacy to talk to the cows. Cows tend to be very curious and they are also very skittish and fear humans. If you talk to them in a soft low voice it reassures them. Cows can often be protective if they have young, so please be careful when passing by them in such cases. Come on Daisy! Keep up!

Not that many cows can pass through a kissing gate as they tend to be too well fed. Still, fields can sometimes have a mixture of livestock and sheep and cows can occasionally share the same field.

‘Mooving’ On Towards Moor Monkton

Skelton to Beningbrough Hall River Ouse Walk

In mid May, we are certainly not short of some floral scenes in this neck of the woods, especially with the meadow buttercups adorning the grass beneath our feet as well as the bank sides.

At present I have witnessed some recently flowering Field Mustard that have also followed the river since arriving. The flowers tend to attract honeybees as well as the attention of passing walkers. I also discovered some Dame’s Rocket accompanying and it is hard to imagine why anyone would class it as an invasive weed. In any case, it is often found in colour from spring until the end of summer. Cow Parsley is also in abundance this morning, lacing the river banks with white clusters of small flowers.

We think of rural walks being a form of relaxation and exercise, which indeed they are, but they can also be a lesson in botany too, as well as wildlife and local history. Even if the heart is not so inclined to learn, you can still receive a great deal of satisfaction, respite and nettle stings from such a scenic walk as this one.

It’s a great idea to simply stop for a moment and take in the scenery around you. Plenty of scenery there is too as you are sandwiched between the Ouse and the moderately sloped hills full of seasonal crops.

As the Coronavirus lockdown has brought many people into exercising through rural walks, the paths are very well established this year with little in the way of overgrowth. I have never had any particular problem with this route except just after the first style to the next gate.

It is not uncommon to find grey heron as well as the odd bird of prey in this area. The birds of prey in this area tend to be more often than not a sparrowhawk that are oftentimes misunderstood for buzzards. You regularly see them hovering above fields searching for their next meal.

You will eventually see a row of recently planted trees by the river that are still somewhat juvenile. This serve as a marker that you are very close to Red House Estate, Moor Monkton on the opposite bank. From a distance, you may misinterpret the buildings as Beningbrough village because they are facing you. However, this river bends gradually so you change direction as you follow it.

You will encounter some further fishing platforms on the approach to Red House Estate, Moor Monkton and I am uncertain if they are under the same ownership as the previous. However, they serve as a gap through the trees to receive views of the River Ouse.

To Seat or Not to Seat That is the Question

Skelton to Beningbrough Hall River Ouse Walk

You will see beside the field a very tempting bench at the top of the slope. You may be thinking at this point, can I take a breather here? Well, as much as it is a good idea, unfortunately it is on a private road and therefore out of reach of being a picnic area. The first time I did this walk I almost assumed it was the route to Beningbrough village as the sign wasn’t there at the time.

You’ll see some red brick structures ahead belonging to the Red House Estate at Moor Monkton, and we get quite close up to this shortly. In fact, if you enjoy fishing its a highlight.

Also on the opposite bank are some farm buildings again in the Moor Monkton area although the village itself is much further back. The River Nidd from Knaresborough merges with the Ouse further upstream. You typically sea a small boat moored here, calmly sat on the slow moving water. It is not uncommon to see boats travelling too and throw on the Ouse as they venture towards Linton Locks which is a village just a little further from Newton On Ouse. These boats range from motorboats to narrow boats too.

Fowl on the Plains of Beningbrough

Skelton to Beningbrough Hall River Ouse Walk

Instead of fowl on the plains of Africa, they are fowl on the plains of Beningbrough today. These are specifically helmeted guinea fowl and originate from South Africa. However, they eventually were introduced to the West Indies, Brazil, Australia and Europe. The last time I saw a large flock of guinea fowl such as this was in Beck Hole near Goathland around three years ago. The closest bird we would associate them with is the turkey. They have quite large round bodies yet they have a very small head. If one was to say “I have a small headache”. What makes them different to other guinea fowl is that their heads are also unfeathered, yet they are this brilliant white colour. They tend to be fearful of humans so it wasn’t long before they performed a hundred metre sprint up the hill and it was difficult to achieve a close up shot.

Guinea Fowl aside, the manicured area stands testimony to the fact that you are in Beningbrough and you will see a farm and other properties at the top of the hill. You will also notice a bend in the river to the left in which we follow momentarily. One of my favourite points of interest here other than the birdlife, is the willow tree overhanging the river. Willow trees are a nightmare when planted close to properties owing to their wandering roots. However, I love to see them overhanging bodies of water especially when their branch tips gently submerge.

In my previous video I ended the walk in Beningbrough, but in this updated video I am walking further towards Beningbrough Hall. If you have enjoyed the scenery so far, then you will love what we find further along.

I say it is not that far, but today as public transport is a no, no, in a pandemic, I had to walk back to the start in a 25c heat. Still, you walk through a short wooded area until you reach what looks to be a garden of a Beningbrough property.

At the other side of the garden there is a short fence with a style in the middle. I realised that most people just walked around the fence and avoided the style. Just as well really, looking at the nettles.

You then walk underneath the umbrella of a further willow tree which is really fantastic. With the strong sunlight shining through the branches, my skin almost turned green in the process. During a pandemic, this is the last colour you want to turn in public.

You walk further towards another style where the scenery changes and you receive some particular points of interest. There are quite a lot of styles and kissing gates on this entire route but they are nothing that the average person cannot handle.

The End is in Sight

Skelton to Beningbrough Hall River Ouse Walk

The Red House Estate that I mentioned earlier is over the River Ouse at this point. The Red House Estate has a caravan site, DIY Livery, Holiday Homes and Show Jumping as well as something else.

Albeit the water levels are low owing to a lack of rainfall, you will see the Red House Estate lagoon which serves as a place for private fishing. The last time I was here, the water levels were much higher, yet it will be even easier to catch fish under the current level.

However, the end is in sight at this point because you see the grand brick house known as Beningbrough Hall. It is here were we merge with a circular walk around the hall and part of this is by the river to Newton on Ouse. Outside of lockdown, there is a cafe and facilities here and you don’t need admission to access these. The house does have an admission charge of course. The grounds and circuit walk are free to access.

On the right hand side are some open fields that a very flat. Remember we are in the Vale of York which is a large area of flat land. It is surrounded by the northerly Howardian Hills, the Pennines to the west, and the Yorkshire Wolds to the east. York resides central in the area.

More common waterfowl is the geese and this morning we see a convoy of gosling passing by the camera lens. However, you cannot forget that the Vale of York is not only a good area for crop growing but also for sheep grazing. However, they tend to be on the Moor Monkton side of the Ouse and they occasionally wander down to the surface of the water to take a drink or two in this hot sunny weather. It’s not at all surprising to see grazing ruminants here as the land is very green. Coupled together with a blue sky reflecting on the river beneath, it makes a very compelling walk that is feature packed. However, sheep and geese weren’t the only recurring incidents this morning.

We clear another style before following this tranquil river that begins its life as the River Ure. In fact, the two rivers together make the sixth longest river in England with a total of 129 miles. The River Ouse, like me, has encountered some unusual features this morning, and I approach something that I least expected at this time of year.

If Guy Fawkes was around today, he probably would be the first to light it. In any case, we are extremely close to the end of the walk, or at least, part one of this walk. The walk that orbits Beningbrough Hall is in a separate video in case the viewer only desires to achieve the circular walk. This will be our next Best North Yorkshire Walks episode in the series. Otherwise, the number 29 bus will take you back to Skelton or York. Obviously, we are talking outside of lockdown.

Beningbrough Hall is under the care and ownership of the National Trust. Of course, under the pandemic it is closed to the public but under normal circumstances there is a gallery and gardens to visit as well as the house itself.

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