Places to Visit in North Yorkshire
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Thornton le Dale to Dalby Forest Circular Walk

Visit York and North Yorkshire through Video

The video below pertains to the Thornton le Dale to Dalby Forest Circular Walk where we begin an extremely scenic walking trip starting at the idyllic village of Thornton. We then go over hill looking down on Ellerburn Valley taking the Ellerburn Road to the fringe of Low Dalby. We then leave Dalby Forest and walk through the quiet hamlet of Ellerburn prior to arriving back in Thornton.

Watch Thornton le Dale to Low Dalby Walk


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Thornton le Dale to Dalby Forest Circular Walk

This is a fantastic walk in which I’ve never really been able to calculate how long it is owing to a lack of mileage signs, but I’m assuming it is around 5 to 7 miles. You can make this shorter if you wish, modifying the route. There is one steepish hill to climb but nothing that the able bodied person can’t handle.

Thornton le Dale Lake

Thornton le Dale to Dalby Forest Circular Walk

There is a huge car park for the village which costs a couple of quid for parking but it is also set on bus routes from Leeds to Whitby and Scarborough to Pickering and Helmsley. Anyhow, I’m visiting the duck pond first just to see these fantastic moorhen fledglings. Just like me after a single shot of whisky they are kind of cute and vulnerable as well as standing on one leg trying to show everyone I can still keep my balance.

At lot has been achieved on this body of water, especially to protect the wildlife, and as I understand it they haven’t been able to clean it owing to some rare amphibians here. Still, seeing Moorhen and ducks are an inevitable occurrence and I’ve even seen tufted ducks previously but not today.

Just behind the large stone wall of the car park there is another weir and a wooded area which perhaps not many people visit very often or even know of its existence. So its nice to pop around the wall and take a look at Thornton Beck. And we get to see a lot of this beck today. However, there’s something else I’ve recently discovered!

Heading uphill gradually to a wooded section we follow the sign to Dog Kennel Lane, unusual I know. It makes you wonder what kind of accommodation you’re going to find here doesn’t it?

At the opposite side of the wood we want to turn right, and from here you get some fantastic views of the North Yorkshire countryside. However, on your left you will see a model village and I’m told that these are all models of real structures that the modeller has played part in constructing. I tried knocking on the door to ask permission if I could take some further video but there wasn’t anyone there, so I can only take these shots from the roadside. They are simply stunning.

Heading back downhill towards the village you’ll see the sports pavilion on your left hand side and you probably saw this from the car park area.

I encountered this lane recently which my dad told me about and we took the dog for a walk here recently too.

When you reach the main road we want to carefully cross it and head slightly uphill towards All Saints Church where my mum and dad got married as my mum was from this area.

I always admire this particular building because its kind of set on a mound of earth like a castle with stone retaining walls. It’s almost like a raised bed you’d find in a garden.

Now here you have a choice because you can walk along the main road instead, but I’ve chosen the quieter route along Church Lane that runs parallel. I try to stick to walking on the right hand side even though its a single lane.

Wold View Thornton le Dale

Thornton le Dale to Dalby Forest Circular Walk

When you get to Wold View, we need to turn left and this is probably the steepest section of this walk and it may get you slightly out of breath for a short while.

It’s now September and there is a plethora of various berries ready for the birds and Ray Mears to eat. These bright red goodies must be like candy for our feathered friends and perhaps a nightmare for car owners.

These are famous last words as always because I’ve got here so early that its still quite hazy in the distance. Still, you can imagine what it must be like when you look over on a clear day. You can pick out certain landmarks such as the silo at Knapton which always reminds me of that biscuit factory from Chigley, the next town on from Trumpton in Trumptonshire.

You eventually get to the top with the Thornton le Dale Service Reservoir on your left. I haven’t a clue what that means either.

Ellerburn Valley

Thornton le Dale to Dalby Forest Circular Walk

I never know whether to call this Eller Valley or Ellerburn Valley because its technically Eller Beck that runs through it, that is locally known as Thornton Beck at this point. Still you receive a view towards Dalby Forest and High Papermill Farm as well as Welham Trout Farms below you. The path you see on the far side of the trout farm is where we return later.

High Paper Mill farm once was a paper mill believe it or not, and as I understand once provided paper for printed hymn books for York Minster. You’ll see Ellerburn Road from here too.

Safety Advice

Thornton le Dale to Dalby Forest Circular Walk

Actually, I shouldn’t make light of such things because adders can give you a nasty bite and they are venomous snakes which is why its important not to sit on the grass and keep to the path. Tick bites can lead to Lime Disease that can have you out of action for a long time.

Still, its worth the risk to see the views and enjoy the fresh Ellerburn air as well as winking at the sheep as you walk past them. Looking down the valley either direction is bliss and is kind of a hidden gem in this area.

Ellerburn Road

Thornton le Dale to Dalby Forest Circular Walk

So at Ellerburn Road we obviously want to turn right towards Dalby Forest but having said that, if you want a shorter walk, you can turn left towards Ellerburn and Thornton le Dale.

So we now walk alongside High Paper Mill Farm that once produced more paper than Fleet Street and ensuring that we close the gate as we pass. You might hear the rushing water on the left, emanating from the large weir that once powered the mill here. I mention this every time we encounter a weir, but they were built to regulate the water flow to power the mill.

So much for the golden rule of closing more gates than you open! With one gate missing and another unhinged, I’m beginning to wonder if the Duke of Edinburgh has been for an afternoon drive down here. All of a sudden the adders seem more sedate.

Still we continue down a track exploring some fantastic scenery and you can start to see signs of Dalby Forest fast approaching. Phew, this one works!

Dalby Forest

Thornton le Dale to Dalby Forest Circular Walk

Many years ago, I came down here in a vehicle with my grandparents at a time when you could drive to Ellerburn from Low Dalby as they lived in this area. However, these days Ellerburn Road turns into more of a footpath for a short while. There are also locked barriers at the Dalby side to prevent traffic.

As it is pretty bright this morning, unlike me, there are some fantastic scenes of the light shining through the trees. This contrasting light often renders some brilliant photography and of course, videography including this one.

I bet I would if it was Lucozade Zero. Moving on you’ll notice that the path now turns back into a bridleway or sing road again. I think there must have been heavy rainfall recently as there seems to be a lot of water beside me. However, the areas does have one of two ponds on either side of the route.

It’s all been about gates recently. You start off with a good intention and then you get owned! Still, as one gate closes another one is bound not to get opened. Especially if it is locked and out of bounds.

I think it may have stood for Private Fishing Area or it could have stood for Please Find Another but I’ll leave that for you to decide.

I’ve done this walk several times now, twice this year. The first time I had done it I sojourned clockwise instead, and at the point of the road turning to a path I took a left turn thinking it was the correct way. This was because I still assumed that it was a full road all the way back to Ellerburn such as when I came down here with my grandparents. Anyway, I walked and walked for sometime before I decided to turn around and go back the way I came! When I got home I had walked 17 miles that day but that included walking from my village to the Park and Ride to get into York too. It was a day very much like today with the sun shining but this was when my bottle of Lucozade came in handy – so it goes to show! So the thing to do on this walk is to follow Eller Beck or at this point Dalby Beck so you don’t do what I did. It’s hard to get lost doing it anti-clockwise anyhow. You’ll see many turn offs but just keep straight ahead until you get to Low Dalby.

These workmen were busy sapping up some of the water using a petrol driven pump of some form, which was similar to how my bladder saps up Lucozade when vlogging a walk.

To say this walk is scenic hardly does it any justice. Especially at this time of year, or any time of year really, there are some interesting features and idyllic views. These scenes change as well from picturesque villages to lush green valleys to dense forestry. Incidentally, this forest is the largest expanse of forestry in England. It’s the sort of forest that nursery rhymes are made of considering Hansel and Gretel for instance.

As far as wildlife is concerned, you might see owls, deer, nuthatch and all sorts of things. The night I came down here with my Grandparents we saw a badger on the side of the road. It’s a shame badgers are nocturnal as I find them pretty interesting. I know they are not to everyone’s taste but I like them.

I think someone tried to brand their cattle and missed.

One of the comforting things about this walk is that you are not short of a bench to sit down on and take a breather. You find one periodically throughout this walk all the way back to Thornton le Dale. Don’t feel guilty for stopping for a minute or two just to have a drink and admire the scenery, its what its there for. However, don’t stay for too long otherwise you might take the shape of the seat and won’t want to get back up again.

So on with the show, looking for more scenic views and more gates that may or may not have been rammed by a black Range Rover. However, just to mention, Ellerburn Road is very easy to walk on but I can imagine it might get a little muddy in winter months, but nothing a good pair of walking shoes cannot handle. I’ve never had any problems with paths overgrown on this route so it is quite an easy route to do.

You can shorten your walk again by crossing Ellerbeck earlier and heading up to the bridleway at the top of the valley, but that’s boring as you miss walking through some stunning scenery at Low Dalby. However, you might be pressed for time if you have parking restrictions to take into consideration. Along this part of the route, it is well signed which is helpful. In any case, I’ve covered some very scenic bridleways and I think this would have to be a favourite. One thing I will say though it you’re more likely to receive a knighthood than a phone signal down here. I’m not sure if it owing to the position or to the towering trees, but in any case, your phone is practically useless until you get back to Thornton le Dale.

It’s like one of those adverts for Furniture Village isn’t it?

At Ellerburn Training Route for cyclists you will find some picnic benches as well. So if you have a sandwich with you or some other edible substance, then you might want to take advantage of these. I saw someone sat in on the moorland at Levisham and with the adders up there it made me shudder.

I saw some cycles of a different nature this morning, the sort of cycle you don’t fall off. I learned to ride a bike in a large farm shed full of farming implements. It was a shame there wasn’t any hay in there too. Still, learning to ride a bike helped me to cycle to work daily as well as other places. Today I just walk, walk, walk and walk with a little more walking on top.

You still have the winding Eller Beck along side you, and the water always seems really fresh and crystal clear. This is something that really strikes you in Thornton le Dale, and our Golden Labrador loves it. This beck is literally from the North York Moors and you see lots of fish in there at times.

Low Dalby

Thornton le Dale to Dalby Forest Circular Walk

You’ll see the village of Low Dalby approaching in the short distance and you can call in there to use the toilet and cafe if you wish. However, you can simply turn off and cross Eller Beck using the wooden footbridge to return to Thornton on another route.

Actually, crossing the bridge here is a great vantage point to see just how crystal clear this water really is. I live near the River Ouse outside York and this particular river is often a thick gravy brown colour owing to the brown soil it carries. I’m not saying that the Ouse is filfthy but it doesn’t look half as nice as Eller Beck. I wouldn’t recommend drinking it unless you’re cattle, but it looks like pure drinking water.

Following the path and heading back the direction we came, takes you through this lush green valley which is extremely scenic especially on a sunny day like today. The valley contains some small holdings all the way down belonging to Low Dalby. The valley is tree lined at both sides owing to Dalby Forest but it is also a large open green space. Like I said, this walk offers diverse scenery such a forestry, lush green valleys, idyllic cottages and me drinking Lucozade out of a large plastic bottle. People often say to me that living in York must be really nice, but once you’ve seen the Minster, bar walls and cobbled streets everyday it starts to become mundane. This kind of scenery however, I’d never get tired of enjoying it. The sheep seem to enjoy it too as there is plenty of food here.

The forest provides a backdrop, kind of like a thick green line separating the sky from the green pasture ground. We also keep following Eller Beck but this time on its other side until we get to Ellerburn.

We keep following the path uphill gradually until we reach a bridleway for a short time. But what’s nice about this path is that its curvy and not just a straight line up hill. As I was going up towards the top of the valley, I encountered a baby snake and I tried to get it back on the path using my tripod so I could film it. Unfortunately, it was reluctant. It was literally the size of my index finger. I’m glad it wasn’t the size of my tripod like the snakes in Tropical World in Leeds. Plus these don’t hang in trees as far as I’m aware.

On a more pleasant note, there are places to call in for food and drink at Thornton le Dale, Low Dalby and Ellerburn. However, in 2019 the tearoom is closed but Low Farm across the road is open for a brew instead. There are free to use toilets in Thornton le Dale car park as well as at Low Dalby. You can also spread yourself out on a collection of benches by the beck. This is an opportune time for a Lucozade Zero and a few moments to capture the scenery. Ahhhh!

This route not only attracts walkers and snakes but also Ellerburn Road is good for cycling through Dalby Forest. There is cycle hire available in the area and also there is the Go Ape! for kids with the tree top challenge. Don’t worry you only find snakes here and no apes. If you’ve come for apes then I suggest Flamingo Land down the road. I also came across people jogging which I thought must have been hard due to the heat. Plus she was doing well anyway for 76.

Again, as I say all the time, never forget to look back at time to time because the views you can miss when they are behind you. This is the sort of valley you want to look back at too. You eventually meet the bridleway and you walk straight on until you get to an entrance into the forest once again.

The trees in the forest seem to form straight lines that go off into the distance, but I don’t think they were intentionally planted this way. I know many eons ago most of the country was forestry. Robin Hood must have had a very sheltered life.

When you reach the entry into the forest, its just a short walk down a narrow path, and today I receive some interesting scenes because the branches for a green tunnel hit by sunlight.

Yes I try to stick to the left of this field and you get to see the private fishing lake and I’ve sometimes seen a fishing boat on it.

You may notice a lot of pheasants around. The more colourful ones are the males and the less colourful are the females. I always thought it would be the other way around because it’s like they are wearing makeup. Mind you, I think for this one its war paint.

This field is used for grazing cows and sheep so don’t be surprised to see livestock. If you have a dog with you then obviously they need to be on a lead. Not just through the field but all the time as you don’t want you dog getting bitten by a tick or and adder.

This is an interesting feature to the walk actually as sometimes you see trout leaping out of the water. Not in the same way as a six headed shark attack such as in one of those totally ridiculous American movies on the Horror Channel. They kind of leap out of the water only to reenter. I slowed down this clip to show you. Keep your eyes top left of your screen. In any case, you can often see them swimming in the water.


Thornton le Dale to Dalby Forest Circular Walk

I’m just thinking about my Ampleforth walk! Perhaps not! At this point however, you get some great views of Eller Beck heading towards Ellerburn. Going through the narrow gate at the fish farm and heading straight on we walk beside a camp site on your left. This camp site is very popular by the way which is not surprising considering where we are. Ellerburn is very tranquil and idyllic with just a few dwellings that are surrounded by very scenic countryside. As far as the hills are concerned, it’s like someone has come along and lifted the ground up so you can see what’s on it. These stone cottages are familiar in the area and must be fantastic dwelling to live in.

We leave Ellerburn Road now that continues to Whitbygate, and we go over the bridge towards Low Farm. You might wonder at this point if you are trespassing but it forms a public footpath back to Thornton le Dale. You again follow Eller Beck or Thornton Beck if you prefer, on the opposite side going through a gate or two along the way. I’m assuming these are alpaca’s and not Star Wars creatures. In any case, this is why gates need to be closed because there is a lot of livestock around this area.

I mentioned that Ellerburn has a popular camp site for both caravans and tents. However, over the road is a newly established luxury Shepherding Hut at Gumboots and Wellingtons. It is set not only in a stunning valley, but also in equally stunning gardens too. So certainly you are not short of somewhere to stay in either Ellerburn or Thornton le Dale.

Burgess Mill

Thornton le Dale to Dalby Forest Circular Walk

You’ll soon get to see the criss-cross weir for the former Burgess Mill. The beck bends sharply and heads towards you after passing this fantastic water feature. The Burgess family were originally from the Northallerton area before establishing the mill. These days however, the mill has been converted into apartments.

Reaching the end of the path you turn left for Thornton le Dale, still following the beck until you reach a wooden footbridge for the famous thatched cottage.

Beck Isle

Thornton le Dale to Dalby Forest Circular Walk

Beck Isle Cottage is the most photographed in England as I mention, and appears on jigsaws and chocolate boxes. This is where you throw the chocolates away and keep the box instead of the other way around. This is like one of those houses they visit on Escape to the Country where Jonnie Irwin tries to find somewhere nice with space for chickens. Good luck on that one.

Thornton le Dale

Thornton le Dale to Dalby Forest Circular Walk

You’ll also notice some Alms Houses on the way back to the village provided by Lady Lumley who bequeathed her estate to assist the poorer community and even had a school built here.

Thornton has a number of tearooms, ice cream parlours and public houses so you’re spoilt for choice, especially in the summer time. Both pubs serve food as well as drink so you have no problem replacing the calories here.

Getting back to the car park is easy too as you just cross the wooden bridge towards the lake and toilets. Prior to doing so, you might want to have a look at the market cross and the village stocks too. Yes I did say stocks. I wonder if whoever broke the gate was put in here?

By the pond with the sound of gushing water surrounding you, you’ll find some wood carvings such as this owl here. Also on the wall of the public toilets you’ll notice some recently installed bug dwellings.

Well, I hope you enjoy your walk just as much as I have mine today. See you next time!

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