Aislabeck Round at Natural Retreats Yorkshire Dales

  • Start/Finish:The Sanctuary
  • Distance/Grade:45 minutes, easy
  • Terrain:Level, uneven in woods
  • Circular walk:Yes

Walk one: Aislabeck Round

This walk offers you the chance to view much of the landscape beyond the boundaries of Natural Retreats with views across the plains to Richmond and beyond. It is said on a clear day it is possible to see the spire of York Minster!

  1. From the sanctuary, walk down the road and turn sharp right, following the track down to the edge of the woods. Here you will fi nd the old Aislabeck spring from which the whole of Richmond was once supplied with water. Pass through the gap in the stone wall and follow the higher footpath into the woods. There are many paths to follow in the woods, but those wishing to take advantage of the resting points would be advised to keep to the higher path to begin with. The Aislabeck plantation is home to several different species of pine and the fl oor of the wood is covered in thick ferns which provide the perfect environment for the resident deer you may find as you wander along. Whilst the deer are more used to people now, we ask that you respect their environment and try to be as quiet as possible.
  2. A couple of hundred metres through the woods brings you to a bench resting point and from here the path drops down to emerge eventually back on to the main site path. Turn right and follow the path past a small car park until you fi nd the fi rst of a row of residences on your right and continue along the row to the end. On your left are a series of bunds, which served as rifl e fi ring ranges many years ago. As you pass residence no7, turn left and follow the path to the junction at the lowest point of the site.
  3. Eventually you will come to the end of a line of poplars. From here, you will see views over towards Catterick and also a signifi cant number of newly planted trees, part of our commitment to carbon offset the site. Cross the path and continue up the side of the stone wall that borders a natural hay meadow with a variety of replanted species which offer a wonderful spectacle throughout the year.
  4. Follow this wall for a hundred metres or so to the stone bench where the wall turns and then as you begin the walk up the hill, cross the road and follow the grassy path up between the spectacular gorse bushes that change colour with the seasons.
  5. At the top of the site you will find a shelter we have built in the style of a sheep fold, which you are welcome to rest at. From here, take in the stunning views over the Dales and also towards the North York Moors. You may spot York Minster from here, over 50 miles away! Saunter back along the top path with the meadow below you and reward yourself with the breathtaking views of the site itself and the rest of the Dales.
River Swale and Richmond at Natural Retreats Yorkshire Dales

  • Start/Finish:Coast to Coast path
  • Distance/Grade:1.5 hours, leisurely
  • Terrain:Fairly level, uphill on return
  • Circular walk:Yes

Walk two: River Swale and Richmond

There are many interesting and varied ways to walk into Richmond from the Natural Retreats site but by far the most satisfying and rewarding is this charming river walk that takes you into the heart of the town along the river Swale, with some spectacular riverside glades and classic views of the castle and town itself.

  1. After crossing the stile that marks the boundary of the Natural Retreats site turn left onto the Coast to Coast route and follow the road down for approximately half a mile until you find an access gate on your right into steep grazing pasture.
  2. Go straight down and slightly to your right towards the gate at the bottom of the pasture that is immediately evident. Once you have passed through this gate continue a short way down the road through the houses until you reach a main road. At this point turn right and walk along the road until you see a car park sign across the road to your left.
  3. Enter the car park and walk through past the toilets until you reach the bridge across the river. From here the walk affords you wonderful views of the river Swale in both directions. Once over the bridge turn left along the clearly marked path. This will take you along a scenic walk with the river to your left and Round Howe Wood to your right.
  4. Follow this path for approximately one mile until the river and wood come together and then step carefully across the giant stones that hug the banks until you arrive at the edge of the town with dramatic views of Richmond Castle ahead of you.
  5. Walk up the side of the bridge to the edge of the town and then you are presented with a choice of walking into the town itself or working your way back up along the Coast to Coast path at Westfields to arrive back where you started. For those looking for a more strenuous fi nish you can travel back up Hurgill road itself which offers a long uphill walk back to the top of the Natural Retreats site.
Whitecliffe Walk at Natural Retreats Yorkshire Dales

  • Start/Finish:Coast to Coast path at bottom of site
  • Distance/Grade:2 to 2.5 hours, moderate
  • Terrain:Fairly level, some uneven parts, sharp inclines
  • Circular walk:Yes

Walk three: Whitecliffe Walk

A relatively short walk that offers huge variety and a microcosm of all that is wonderful about the Yorkshire Dales. It contrasts wonderful views of Swaledale with dark forest walks, river trails and dramatic cliffs with a dose of historical sites thrown in for good measure.

  1. Leave the site at the intersection with the Coast to Coast route. After crossing the stile that marks the boundary of the Natural Retreats site, turn right onto the Coast to Coast route and follow the road up for approximately 80 metres until you fi nd a lane on your left.
  2. Walking down this lane past Low Leases cottage the path turns fi rst to the right then left at which point superb views of the dales and Richmond Castle in particular can be seen to the left. At the bottom of the lane turn right and follow the path up and around past Lownethwaite Farm and then enter Whitecliffe Wood.
  3. The wood broadly follows the path of the River Swale and after a short but rewarding walk, emerges into a wide riverside pasture. This is a perfect location for a picnic by the river, but if you choose to press on, cut across the meadow following the path of the river until you eventually come across a caravan site across the river. The views from here towards Marske are worth the trip alone.
  4. At this point bear right up the shallow hill, passing a farm to your right (the path curves around the farm rather than through it ), until you reach a narrow tarmac road. At this point the cliffs themselves which give the walk and woods their name rear up before you.
  5. Turning left the road crosses a cattle grid and works its way back to a main road. Instead of taking this route we recommend instead turning right and picking up the Coast to Coast route once more which bears left onto a grassy path just before East Applegarth Farm. Once higher on this path you can enjoy the most spectacular views of the walk with Swaledale to your left and the countryside leading to Marske to your right. Little wonder then that ancient inhabitants chose this location to site a fort, although nowadays it is little more than earth mounds, sited just before you re-enter Whitecliffe woods.
  6. The woodland track eventually emerges onto a single track road which takes you past Whitecliffe farm and shortly afterwards to the start of the walk again, at the stile at the bottom of the Natural Retreats site.