Hiking Around

Leave only footprints, take only pictures and memories!

Thornton-le-Dale to Ellerburn & Howl Dale Wood.

Distance: 5½ miles / 9 kilometers

Time: 2 hours 30 minutes

Grade: Easy

Map: OS Explorer OL27 - North York Moors-Eastern Area.

Walk Summary

This is an easy going 5½ mile circular walk in the Ryedale district on the edge of the North York Moors National Park. The walk starts from the quaint and very popular village of Thornton-le-Dale, heads up to Ellerburn and then through Howl Dale Wood before returning back to Thornton-le-Dale. It is a pleasing walk in any season, though the spring and autumn is when Thornton Beck and the woodland trails are at their best. Summer is when the bees and butterflies are out in force foraging among the wild flowers of the meadows and woodlands.

Thornton-le-Dale (aka Thornton Dale) has been described by some as the most beautiful village in Yorkshire with the picturesque Thornton Beck meandering along the streets which is crossed by several bridges. The village has a variety of cafes, tea rooms and ice cream parlours, and is host to a motor museum run by D. T. Mathewson which exhibits classic and vintage cars. The village pond and memorial cross add to the tranquility and aesthetics of the village which have pretty much remained unchanged since medieval times. Not forgetting Beck Isle Cottage, a quintessential Grade II listed, 17th century English country thatched roof cottage. It is probably one of the most photographed cottages in Yorkshire, having appeared in countless calendars, chocolate tins and jigsaws over the years.

From the car park, turn right on the main road to head towards the medieval Church of All Saints, which is a Grade II listed building, dating back to the 12th century. The church was enlarged in the 14th century with a new west tower. The church was heavily restored in the 1860's where the tomb of the 'Great Black Knight of the North', Sir Richard Chomley of Roxby (1516-1583) was covered. There is a medieval poor box by the north door. After visiting the church, head along Priestman's Lane to a fingerpost on the right at a wooden footbridge.

Follow the track to Ellerburn and Church of St Hilda. Ellerburn is a tiny hamlet that was formerly an industrial area with paper mills and quarries. The church was once the mother church of the area. It is a Grade II listed building, with parts dating back to 850. The church managed to survive the Harrying of the North (1069–1070), and has undergone many restorations over the centuries. The church was heavily restored in 1905 where the vestry and porch were added.

The walk can be extended with a short excursion by turning right at the church, ¾ of a mile up the track passed the trout fish farm, to the paper mill pond.

Follow the path to the left of the church along Kirkdale Slack where rabbits and various birds roam. Kirkdale is Old Nordic to indicate a valley with a church. Kirkdale Slack has been listed as a scheduled monument since 2002, as a prehistoric boundary running along the western edge of Ellerburn Banks from Ellerburn Low towards Pexton Moor.

Continue along Kirkdale Slack and the wood to where it meets up with Dalby Forest Drive (the start of Dalby Forest). Turn left and then left again on to Dalby Forest Lane, then turn right on to a single track lane, then at the fingterpost turn left on a public footpath that leads to Howl Dale Wood. The descent into the wood can be a bit slippery after rain. When in the wood the trail turns left. At the end of Howl Dale Wood, the trail turns left, passes through a gate and over the field to another gate, then towards the house, to a footpath on the right and pass through Hagg Wood, then follows the hedge rows of the fields on Swincroft Hill, to eventually meet up with the A170 (Thornton Road). Turn left and follow Thornton Road in to Thornton-le-Dale and back to the start.