Chafer Wood and Kirk Dale – an easy 6km circular walk starting from Cliff House Holiday Cottages
This walk is for a summer’s afternoon after Sunday lunch to walk it off or in the winter before coming home to a piping hot stew. This walk through Chafer Wood and Kirk Dale starts and finishes from our self catering holiday cottages in the Vale of Pickering, just on the edge of the North York Moors. No troublesome bits on the walk, save for getting over a couple of wobbly stiles to cross a farm yard at roughly the mid-way point. You can follow the route on the Ordnance Survey website.
This 6km walk starts from our self catering holiday cottages in the pretty village of Ebberston. From your cottage head to the road and turn right heading up Netherby Dale. Once you get to the grassy meadow on the left follow the small path that heads up hill. This will take you past the Ebberston pinfold, when in days gone by escaped sheep would be rounded up and kept here, only to released for a small fee. The path takes you in to Chafer Wood, named after Mr Chafer who was (we think) a local hunt master who gifted the land to the people of Ebberston. The land is now managed by the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust.
Keep following the track up. You come across small cleared area with a cairn at the top. This cairn, named Alfred’s Cave is near the location where Northumbrian King Aldfrith (Alfred) fought a battle against the Picts in AD705 – probably on area to the west of the village called the Bloody Field (and the Bloody Beck). After the battle an injured Alfred hid in a cave near the cairn before escaping to Little Driffield, where he died. You can nip up to the cairn to have a look across the Vale of Pickering towards the Yorkshire Wolds – 100 years ago these views would have been uninterrupted, as there would have been no trees – as it would be used for firewood etc.
Continue past Alfred’s Cave following the path that is just inside the woods, with open fields on your left. If you peer in to the woods to your right, you will see lumps and bumps, evidence of limestone quarrying in the woods. As you exit the woods in to what are now open fields to your left there would have been a burial mound called Mickle Howe that appeared on maps dated 1854 and even as recently as 1952. Sadly now this has been ploughed out, but you can sometimes see it from above on Google Maps (its very faint but it is there – look for the circle).
Continue following the path out of the woods where you will join a farm track which will in turn join the road that would take you in to the back of Dalby Forest. At this point you will see a sign post marking a foot path that cuts across the field (SE 89975 85242) . Depending on how many people have been before you, the path may be quite faint – effectively you are going down to the bottom left corner of the field (SE 89643 85068) as you look at the field. If you are aren’t feeling confident, double back on yourself and head back down the hill a little bit, until you get to a field wall and an electricity pole (#17) at SE 89960 85038 – follow the edge of the field here heading towards SE 89975 85242.
Once you get to SE 89975 85242 cross the stile – you are now in a farm yard, go directly across the yard to the stile on the opposite side. Once over the stile go straight over the field heading towards the hedge on the opposite side – again there may be no clear path, but this is the path you’ll find on the maps we provide in our cottages. As an aside, this path across the fields from the road down is actually following what would have been an ancient dike or ditch. Again this ditch has been ploughed out and the only remaining trace of it is the right of way that follows its course.
The hedgerow on the other side hides Scamridge Dikes, a bronze age liner boundary feature.
Down Kirk Dale
Go through the gap in the hedge, and follow the edge of the field around to your right – you will come to a gate at SE 89206 85107. There is some signage here and on the gate. If there is a sign offering an alternative route with “better views” – follow that route (and don’t go through the gate). If that sign is covered up and there are no deer in the field beyond the gate – follow the right of way through the gate and in to the field and walk along the bottom of Kirk Dale. It can be confusing at times, as the the sign with the advice can be covered up when the deer aren’t in the field, but they still leave the other warning signs on the gate. Either route starts to take you back down the hill in the direction of Ebberston Hall and St Mary’s Church.
At the bottom of the hill when you get to a house on the right hand side, there is a path opposite it on the left hand side. This path will take you through the grave yard of St Mary’s Church. Can you spot the grave that the giant redwood tree is growing around?
Continue through the grave yard and out the other side. You may be lucky enough to see the emu in the field. The emu is owned by the owners of Ebberston Hall – Britain’s smallest stately home apparently. Ebberston Hall is just behind the church and is best viewed either from the grave yard or from the road, where you get to see St Mary’s and Ebberston Hall together.
Once you are out the grave yard you are on to the A170. Turn left and head back towards the village of Ebberston which is just over the brow of the hill. If the Grapes Inn is open, why not stop for a well deserved drink or carry on down the hill and back to Cliff House? And that completes our walk through Chafer Wood and Kirk Dale.
About Cliff House Holiday Cottages
Cliff House Holiday Cottages in Ryedale offers the perfect base for a walking holiday in North Yorkshire, with short walks from our door as well as the North York Moors just 2 miles away and the Yorkshire Coast just 25 minutes we are well sited. With owners on site, we are usually always around to offer advice about walks and things to do in our beautiful part of the world. In each of our “Walking Friendly” cottages we provide maps, route cards for walks in the North Yorkshire, nature guides and binoculars to enhance your stay with us. For more walks from Cliff House Holiday Cottages, please visit our walks home page.
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