A pleasant little walk heading away from the crowds at Fountains Abbey to visit the remote sulphur wells at Aldfield Spa.
|Parking:||Fountains Abbey Visitor Centre|
|Route:||Download Route [GPX]|
After the excitement and indulgence of Christmas Day I always like to get out (weather permitting) on Boxing Day. As I also needed to factor in a visit to the in-laws in Ripon I needed to find a short walk nearby. An obvious choice would have been Fountains Abbey or the Studley Park walk we’d done the previous December. On this occasion I wanted to do something a bit different so came up with this short route most of which was new to me.
Parking at the large car park at the Fountains Abbey visitor centre we initially took the popular path heading for Studley Park. We almost immediately left this however by crossing the road to pass through a gap in the hedge. This led to a fine path between hedges to run south-west adjacent to the road. After five minutes or so we crossed the road to continue in the same direction on a minor fork.
“Depending on which way the wind is blowing, a strong whiff of sulphur may be noticed before the spring is found!”
Emerging on to another road we dropped downhill to then take a gate on the right hand side. This provided access to a wide track which we followed all the way to Aldfield Spa. This was a lovely section of the walk. With the River Skell never far away the track weaved its way beautifully through some lovely wooded countryside. After initially passing below Spring Wood it then wound its way through Skell Bank Wood and on into Spa Gill Wood.
Eventually the path reached the ruins of Aldfield Spa. In the late 17th century sulphur springs were discovered here. An old cottage was later converted into a spa for the use of those coming to take the waters. In the trees on the opposite side of the path can be found one of the sulphur wells. Depending on which way the wind is blowing, a strong whiff of sulphur may be noticed before the spring is found!
Just a bit further along the path we came to a footbridge. Just on the other side was what seemed to be another suplhur well. There was also a small stony beach alongside the river so we braved the smell and stopped for a snack. Recrossing the bridge we then returned to the ruin to take a path slanting up the wooded bank beyond. Along the way we passed a number of pheasant feeding stations.
Emerging out of the woods we crossed a couple of fields to enter the village of Aldfield at its western edge. Listed in the Domesday Book Aldfield is a pleasant little place with a fine church at its eastern end. On the wall corner outside the church is a circular plaque informing people that the Victorian era painter William Powell Frith once lived here.
At the road junction by the church we turned right. The next few minutes along the road was quiet but still required caution in the event of an oncoming car. After a few minutes we were able to escape the road by taking a path on the left. This path led pleasantly through fields to reach the gateway at the top of Studley Park. Popping through the gate I took a few pictures of St Mary’s Church and the nearby obelisk before catching up with Lisa and Rhiannon who were making there way more directly back to the car park.
This was a very enjoyable little walk, perhaps more so than I anticipated. The outbound leg to Aldfield Spa was particularly enjoyable and would, I imagine, be especially colorful in late autumn.