Tadcaster to the North
A long walk travelling North from Tadcaster that traverses some very quiet countryside. The route passes through Healaugh, Bilton, Tockwith, Wilstrop, Moor Monkton and ends at Nether Poppleton. A regular bus service runs from there to York station, where you can catch the Coastline back to Tadcaster.
Outline route map
St Helen's, Bilton. The church has many examples of Romanesque sculpture and many interesting corbels. In particular, inside the church, there are two examples of a "Sheela naa Gig". A Sheela na Gig is a quasi-erotic stone carving of a female figure. Not what you might expect on a church building. Examples are rare in the North of England.
Corbels on the outside of the church.
The white horse is visible on the horizon.
The broad, flat landscape of the Vale of York.
The approach to Wilstrop Hall.
We hope you had an enjoyable walk.
The Route Described
The route starts at Tadcaster Bus Station, cross the road , past Sainsbury's -- your last chance to stock up with any food and drink -- and turn up Rosemary Row. Turn left at Wighill Lane and go along to the "Old Coach Road" bridleway. Follow this to Healaugh, going past Healaugh Priory.
Unfortunately the farmer keeps the hedges very high, so in summer there is often not much to see, though from time to time there are some nice views of Healaugh Church.
Healaugh Priory has a long history and in recent years the surrounding land and farm have been tidied up to make pleasant views to the south east.
On reaching the road at Healaugh turn west along the road and follow the bridleway over the hill to Bilton, taking you past Nova Scotia Wood. How did it get that name ?. In 1772 to 1775 about 1000 persons, mostly tenant farmers, emigrated from Yorkshire to Nova Scotia. Several came from this area around York and some, after a while, returned to Yorkshire. There is another place called Nova Scotia a few miles further east, near Bolton Percy. I wonder if this 18th Century migration provided the source of this place name. More details of the migration, personal accounts and name lists for the vessels crossing the Atlantic.
As you enter Bilton the route takes you past "The Chequers", a pleasant pub. Follow the road on through Bilton to St Helen's church. Cross the York-Wetherby road and continue along the bridleway towards Tockwith.
If the visibility is good, then directly ahead you should be able to see the White Horse at Kilburn. This is almost 20 miles away. Kilburn White Horse is a fine example of Victorian leucippotomy, being the largest and most northerly horse in England.
On meeting the road at Tockwith, turn left and then after a hundred yards or so, turn right on a farm track. Tockwith. If you are in need of refreshment a this point, a short diversion into the village gives you a choice of two pubs and, further along the main street, a shop.
Leaving Tockwith along Kendal Lane, you cross the eastern edge of the Civil War battlefield of Marston Moor (battlefield map). Continue north towards New Farm and the River Nidd. A very rough footpath now follows the winding south bank of the river North towards Wilstrop. I am always struck how devoid of wild life our rivers seem to be. (The same observation applies to the River Ouse later on.)
Passing Wilstrop Hall I saw three Sika deer running in the fields to the north. There were scared off by the slightest movement on my part, even though I must have been 100 metres away. I seem to be seeing more and more deer these days. If you are having trouble identifying deer, have a look at this.
Wilstrop is a deserted village and the marks are visible between the hall and the railway crossing. There is a considerable evidence of medieval ridge and furrow in this area.
At Wilstrop Siding there is a manned, gated crossing of the railway line, complete with semaphore signals. If you chance to catch a vehicle crossing the line, you will see what a complicated process of lowering and raising signals and opening and closing gates this entails. Something of a complete time-warp in these days of high-speed trains.
Carry on over the railway to the York-Harrogate Road: the only noisy nuisance on this route and it should be crossed with care. Continue through the farm and across the fields towards Moor Monkton past Finkle Holme. Near to Finkle Holme you may notice signs for permissive footpaths allowing you to explore the ings to the north of the path. This is well worth the diversion if you have time. The route enters Moor Monkton along an old track, but before you reach the road, a footpath sign points across a field to the village. If you follow this path you will end up in someone's garden, but as far as I can see this is the footpath !.
It would have to been nice to find a pub in Moor Monkton, but unfortunately there has not been one for a long time. Walk along the road through the village, and then take the track left that runs alongside the river to the location of a former ferry across "Nidd Mouth", the confluence of the Nidd and the Ouse. What a shame there is no longer a ferry at this point as it would open up a route to Nun Monkton and provide a whole new terrain to explore. However, whilst regretting this, stop and consider the view across to Beningborough Hall. A good spot for a rest before the final leg of the journey.
The track to Poppleton follows the bank of the River Ouse, a pleasant path. Soon the Red House water extraction point looms into view. I don't know what this says for the quality of water in the River Ouse, but the holding reservoirs seem to contain many more birds than the river. A little further on we pass Red House, the ancient home of the Slingsby family, then a school and now an equestrian and holiday centre. Here there is an interesting barge moored on the river: this barge is not a native of the River Ouse.
Continuing along the bank of the Ouse for a couple of miles brings you into Nether Poppleton. You can wait for the bus outside the Lord Nelson, or if you prefer, inside it. Alternatively, a little further along Church Lane, the church of St Everilda's is worth a visit. Take the bus to York Station and catch the Coastliner back to Tadcaster.
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