A delightful walk around the various follies of Hackfall Woods, located on a steep bend in the River Ure near the village of Grewelthorpe.
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Hackfall Woods is a truly special place. The woods themselves are around 500 years old but what sets Hackfall apart from the neighbouring woodlands is the series of follies, grottoes, views, waterfalls and ponds that were developed on the site between 1750 and 1767 by William Aislabie, creator of the water gardens at Studley Royal and Fountains Abbey.
This was my third visit to Hackfall and this time I had the company of my ten year old niece Shannon, who I'd brought with me so she could practice with the camera she had got for Christmas. Although there is a dedicated car park for Hackfall to the north of Grewelthorpe I decided to start this walk from Grewelthorpe itself, mainly so that we could visit the lovely duck pond at the southern end of the village.
"Continuing on we visited Fisher's Hall, which featured a beautifull framed view of the River Ure, then on to the Grotto."
Parking alongside the pond we took a few photos of the ducks, crocuses and snowdrops before walking up through the village as far as the church. Turning right just before the church we followed a track, Back Lane, a short distance until reaching a stile on our left. Crossing over the stile and a couple of pastures we entered the top of Hackfall Woods near a bridge and a small waterfall.
There are plenty of options for walks in Hackfall Woods, from a mile in distance to almost five. A map of the woods with some these route options can be downloaded from the Woodland Trust website.
On this occasion we initially walked above the south bank of Grewelthorpe Beck until reaching a junction. Here we climbed up to the right to visit the first of the day's follies - Mowbray Castle. After having a little look around the ruin we retraced our steps to drop down to Grewelthorpe Beck.
At this super little spot we crossed over the beck on some stepping stones next to a little waterfall. Looking back we could see Alum Spring, nearby was Kent's Seat and there was also a great view back upstream.
Continuing on we visited Fisher's Hall, which featured a beautifull framed view of the River Ure, then on to the Grotto. Here we sat down for our lunch with a good view of the Forty Foot Falls. We also discovered a rather battered and waterlogged geocache.
Next we visited the magnificent Fountain Pond with its pump. I couldn't quite work out whether the fountain was working on a timer or it was our efforts with the hand pump that got it working. Certainly Shannon enjoyed my frantic efforts to use the pump!
After spending some time next to the pond we visited the Rustic Temple before taking a path slanting up to the edge of the wood. Curving round to the left the path continued to climb to reach the bench on Lover's Leap where there was a great view across the woods back to Mowbray Castle.
An even better view awaited us at Mowbray Point where the terrace of the Ruin had a super view back down to the Fountain Pond and Fisher's Hall. From The Ruin we dropped back down into the woods before climbing gradually back up on above the northern side of Grewelthorpe Beck. Passing over a couple of bridges and some small waterfalls we re-entered Grewelthorpe at the northern end of the village. Turning left we walked back through the village and back to the car.
This was a really fun trip out. Shannon was great company and what made it particularly enjoyable from my perspective was how much she enjoyed her surroundings. I'm looking forward to taking her out on more little trips like this one in the future.