An easy low level circular walk from Kirkby Malzeard visiting Azerley, Galphay, Winksley, the riverside at Laver Banks and the estate of Braithwaite Hall.
|Parking:||Street parking, Kirkby Malzeard|
|Route:||Download Route [GPX]|
With an unpromising forecast of for rain most of the morning and extensive hill fog I was initially stuck for where to take my friends from work on our first outing together post-Nidderdale Way. In the end I picked this low level walk just to the west of where I'd been out the previous weekend when I'd visited West Tanfield and North Stainley.
Parking on the roadside on Church Street in Kirkby Malzeard, just to the north of the market cross, we left the village by heading east on the road to Ripon. After passing the Kirkby branch of the Wensleydale Creamery we reached Creets Bridge and our first of many encounters during the course of the walk with Kex Beck.
"After lunch we walked past the characterful Galphay Inn to arrive at some grand wooden gates providing access to the Braithwaite Hall Estate."
From Creets Bridge we took a track heading south-east towards Lawnwith. We hadn't gone far when we left the track at a much thinner path signposted for Azerley. On the way to Azerley we passed a field full of barley before coming across one extensive field of wheat. The thin path ran right down the middle of it which was quite an enjoyable experience.
Entering Azerley Park we soon reached the first of several grand looking houses at Azerley. The path, sometimes almost encroaching on private gardens, ran pleasantly alongside Kex Beck before joining Eight Acre Lane. This led us past the driveway to Azerley Tower which was sadly hidden by the surrounding trees.
Dropping down another couple of fields we crossed Kex Beck at a footbridge. On the other side we soon came to the copse of trees surrounding the brillantly named Witch-of-the-Woods House. It was an atmospheric though empty looking place. Unfortunately the only gate providing access had a private sign on so we couldn't take a closer look.
Passing through a hedge we joined a track leading to Cow Myers. Despite the name, Cow Myers is in fact one of the stables owned by Lindrick Livery and it was horses rather than cows that we saw plenty of. Following the access road out on to Galphay Lane we turned left to follow the road downhill to reach Galphay Mill Bridge.
Turning right we followed the River Laver upstream through the woods of Laver Banks. Up until reaching the bridge the forecast rain had failed to materialise but at this point it began to rain on and off for the next hour. Fortunately the tree cover alongside the river gave us some shelter even if the final track before Woodhouse Bridge was very muddy.
Without crossing the bridge we turned right heading uphill on a track that brought us out of the woods at Wood House. Heading across a couple of pastures we arrived at a very loose stile protruding with nails. Instead of risking injury on this we walked up the field to access another stile to access a path that detoured around Laver Banks Farm. On this stretch we met a very friendly horse and two particuarly high step stiles.
Finally arriving at Winksley we did a mini circuit of the village, passing the Church of St Cuthbert and St Oswald before heading north on Winksley Bank Road. Fortunately we were soon able to escape this very narrow road by a path on the right. This led across a couple of fields to a quite ridiculous metal gate that opened to a small fenced off area with no stile. Definitely not a walker friendly stretch of path we had to climb over the padlocked gate in the next field to arrive on West Lane.
A short walk along West Lane brought us into the attractive village of Galphay. At the south-east corner of the green we took shelter under the Victoria Oak to enjoy some lunch. This 120-year old tree was, as its name suggests, planted in 1897 to mark the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria.
After lunch we walked past the characterful Galphay Inn to arrive at some grand wooden gates providing access to the Braithwaite Hall Estate. A pleasant walk along Nap Cote Lane brought us to the magnificent Braithwaite Hall. I've not managed to find out too much about this fascinating looking building. If anyone knows anything please do let me know!
Continuing north through a tree lined track we crossed a large sheep pasture to again cross Kex Beck. Passing the houses at Lawnwith we soon reached the track that led us back to Creets Bridge. Rather than returning back into Kirkby Malzeard along the road we instead took a path to the right climbing up along the outside of Park Wood. The way soon became unclear but we found a nice track in the woods that led us to a ford and our final crossing of Kex Beck. All that was left was to walk up the hill past the church and back to where we'd started.
All in all I rather enjoyed the walk and it was perfect considering the forecast. These low level routes between villages are quite enjoyable and they do make for a nice change in pace. That said, after two such walks in quick succession, I am ready to head to the hills again!