Jervaulx Abbey

Jervaulx Abbey & Thornton Steward

Walk Summary

A lovely low level walk visiting the remains of Jervaulx Abbey, the village of Thornton Steward and including a fine section of the River Ure.

Distance: 7.5 miles
Total ascent: 420ft
Walk Rating: ****
Parking: Jervaulx Abbey, car park
Route: Download Route [GPX]

Photo Gallery

Walk Report

With the remnants of Storm Brian still causing strong winds, not to mention low cloud and rain on the hills, I decided a lower level walk might be in order. Checking the forecast it looked like there was a good chance of sunshine to the east of the Dales. So it was that I decided on this route, a walk that I'd been saving for just such a day.

The walk starts from the car park at the Jervaulx Abbey tearooms, just across the road from the abbey remains. Parking is just £1 payable at an honesty box. The good thing about the starting point is that the abbey can be visited at the beginning or end of the walk - or both! The tearoom is also handily located for refreshments and toilets.

"As I've recently found, old bridges are quite a good place to look for Ordnance Survey benchmarks. I soon found one halfway across on the east facing wall."

The sun began to break through the morning cloud almost immediately after I parked up. Not knowing what the weather would be like at the end of the walk I decided to visit the abbey at the start. The entrance fee is just £3 and is again payable at an honesty box, this time located just inside beyond the iron gate leading into the grounds.

Jervaulx Abbey was founded by Cistercian monks from Byland Abbey in 1156. The abbey survived until the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1536. Unlike many such ruins it is in private ownership and that perhaps explains how nature has been allowed to reclaim some of the ruins. During the springtime in particular the ruins are particularly lovely thanks to the profusion of wildflowers that grow in and amongst the ruins. For more information about Jervaulx Abbey visit the Jervaulx Abbey website.

After a walk about the ruins I exited by the iron gate to join the nearby track passing through Jervaulx Park. Turning left on this I enjoyed a pleasant half mile or so stroll through the park. The highlight was an attractive fish pond with bulrushes next to the track.

Emerging at the far end of the park I turned left up Kilgram Lane. Passing an old telephone exchange on the left I soon got my first view of Thornton Steward. Carrying on this quiet country lane I eventually arrived at Kilgram Bridge. As I've recently found, old bridges are quite a good place to look for Ordnance Survey benchmarks. I soon found one halfway across on the east facing wall. Looking west there was a fine view upriver with Pen Hill in the distance.

After a quick detour to view the bridge from the east I crossed the road to take a signed footpath. This passed over a rather bare crop field. The clayish ground underfoot soon began to accumulate around the bottom and sides of my boots. Thankfully the next field was just grass so, having wiped the soil off my boots, I continued on my way.

After passing the farm at Woodhouse I walked through a few more fields to arrive at the village of Thornton Steward. This pretty little village dates back to medieval times. There are good views over lower Wensleydale and some interesting buildings, not least the tower of the house called Fort Horn. Also notable is the Village Institute which has tea making facilities and toilets for the use of passing walkers. How lovely. More information about the Thornton Steward can be found on the village website.

At the far end of the village a gate led to a drive descending down through woodland to St Oswald's Church. St Oswald's Church is recorded in the Domesday Book and is possibly the oldest church in Wensleydale. Inside the main doorway there is a list of all the known vicars of the church from 1362 to the present day.

Leaving the church by a gate at the far end of the small car park I continued on along a series of sheep pastures. Along the way I passed an old tree, looking like an Ent from Lord of the Rings, on which someone has built a small wooden door. A bit further along the remains of a large tree stump were also passed.

Gradually morphing into more park like surrounds I eventually arrived below Danby Hall. This very grand looking mansion dates in part back to the 14th century and has been in the possession of the Scrope family since the 16th century. The impressive south front was largely built in the mid-nineteenth century.

Passing below Danby Hall the faint path soon joined a more obvious track that wound down through some trees to Danby Low Lodge and Danby Low Mill. Beyond the latter a nice path alongside the river led to a minor road. Just along this was the small churchyard, with a carving of Christ on the cross, of the Church of St Simon and St Jude.

Turning left at the road junction I crossed Ulshaw Bridge. An interesting feature of the bridge is the stone sundial, dated 1674, that is situated in one of the bridge's refuges. A short way along the road I then crossed over Cover Bridge where I spotted another Ordnance Survey benchmark.

Taking a path on the left I followed the final stages of the River Cover to its confluence with the River Ure. There then followed a lovely mile or so of walking on an embankment between the River Ure on my left and fields on my right. A final more open section of riverbank ended all too soon as the path was deflected up to the road. A careful five minute walk brought me back to the car park and the end of a walk that had been full of interest.