Leader : Nigel Medcalf. Distance : 9.5 miles
Left click route to enlarge
Nigel reports :-
Nine CHA Members made the trip down to Ripley today in two vehicles for a 9 mile wander around the North Yorkshire countryside. This hardy bunch were determined to enjoy the day whatever the weather may throw at us. Forecasts of thunder, lightning and storms did not deter us. We did not include “fair-weather walkers” amongst our number today. What did threaten to dampen the day however was when one gentleman in the team discovered that he’d forgotten his walking socks. Fortunately a kind lady member offered to lend him her spare pair. As she delved in her rucksack to locate them, someone joked “let’s hope they’re not pink!” Sure enough they were. The gentleman in question put on a brave face as he connected with his feminine side.
The village of Ripley is dominated by the presence of Ripley Castle which has been inhabited by the Ingilby family for over 700 years. Our path took us on an arcing route outside of the grounds of the Estate. Glimpses over and through the wall gave us chance to see the Fallow Deer herd within. The villages of Bedlam and Shaw Mills were touched before we dropped down to the River Nidd at New Bridge, a delightful packhorse bridge built in 1822. A grade 2 listed building, it stands on the route from Otley to Ripon. The Nidderdale Way was then followed eastwards to Birstwith. As we approached the village some of our team thought they detected the smell of cooking. However it was eventually agreed that the aroma was coming from the Kerry Ingredients factory that now occupied the Mill site by the river. This all added up when it was revealed that the factory produces food coatings and seasonings etc. This had whetted our appetite so we took lunch in the field on the opposite side of the river.
Suitably refreshed we heard tales of how the Greenwood family bought Wreaks Mill in 1805 and built the grand Swarcliffe Hall on the nearby hillside. This imposing building is now a school but in the 1840’s Charlotte Bronte was employed at the Hall as governess to the Greenwood children. It is rumoured that the idea for Jane Eyre was nurtured here during this time.
Along the Nidderdale Way we noted how the traditional Roseday Willowherb Epilobium Angustifolium is being replaced by the invasive Himalayan Balsam Impatiens glandulifera in extreme abundance. Across the fields we entered Hampsthwaite along the Medieval Way, which we discovered is rather a misnomer since the pathway has been used for much longer and dates back to Roman times. The village is of interest as its church is one of only a small number in England dedicated to St Thomas a Becket. The lychgate at the entrance to the church is the work of Robert Thompson of Kilburn and one of our eagle-eyed team spotted the signature mouse carvings on the gates.
The final climb of the day took us up to the hamlet of Clint. Here the village stocks were employed to punish miscreants and walk leaders. Arriving back in Ripley dry and hot, the ice cream shop was selected by most as the refreshment venue of choice.