29 Masham – Leyburn

Masham to Leyburn 16.4 miles (26.2Km.)

Countryside Volunteers in North Yorkshire

Countryside Volunteers in North Yorkshire

The Countryside Volunteers have been busy on the path leaving Masham. New gates and signs help us find our way then we are abandoned at the Marfield Nature Reserve and the active gravel pit beyond but it’s not a major challenge to find a way through both. Our route follows the Ure for most of the day often along the river bank, this is the most intimate we become with the Yorkshire rivers. It is attractive, a character appreciated by others as I note I’m sharing the path with more walkers along these waterside sections.

Jervaulx Abbey & sheep

Jervaulx Abbey & sheep

The approach to Jervaulx through the park is pleasing in the sunshine with a variety of trees offering a mix of fresh spring colours from yellow to the stunning Copper Beech. The sheep here have become accustomed to people and stand and stare rather than turning their backs and running away, so I get some better pictures. I’m tempted to wander from the path to take a closer look at the Abbey remains but what more do I really want to see? It looks pretty good from here.

Coverbridge Inn - praised by CAMRA

Coverbridge Inn - praised by CAMRA

As I approach Cover Bridge the river bed shows signs of flood devastation with tree trunks and boulders left high and dry away from the present course of the river. Having driven along the road from Masham to Leyburn a number of times I had noted the Cover Bridge Inn but being located on a bend in the road it had always appeared a very difficult place to stop. I now had an opportunity to sample the attractive Inn and found the inside as appealing with a wide choice of real ales and a proud display of certificates from the local branch of CAMRA, plus a car park in the field opposite.

River Cover stepping stones

River Cover stepping stones

Leaving the inn there was more evidence of flood damage repairs along the back before I arrived at a local beauty spot where families were grouped around picnic baskets and children paddled in the river and played on the stepping stones.

I’ve enjoyed this section of the walk north of Hathersage and no argument, the scenery has been stunning give or take the occasional grot spot. Perhaps it’s all been too nice. Further south it was nice with the occasional wow prompting me to make a photographic record. At Middleham that changes and walking into the town from the south is the best way to get that wow as the scale of the remains hits us as we turn into the lane to enter the town.

Fishing in the River Ure

Fishing in the River Ure

Today this horse racing centre is open house to the public and the place is heaving. I had been warned but on foot I had no worries about getting through the traffic or finding a place to park. Stables were open and everything horsey was on sale from stalls in the small market place.

Leaving the crowds of Middleham my memory is drawn back to the early days of this Great English Walk. In Gloucestershire last year I mused on the rhyme, Ash before Oak, in for a soak, Oak before Ash, in for a splash. With such a dry April I could see that adjacent Ash and Oak trees had got it right, with no sign of green on the former and a hint of green on the latter.

Wensley Bridge gateway to Wensleydale

Wensley Bridge gateway to Wensleydale

Another pinch point and our guides decide on a detour taking us to Wensley Bridge before approaching Leyburn. It was interesting to note that the Wensleydale Branch of the Council for the Protection of Rural England issued a blue plaque for enhancing the local environment by imaginative and sensitive development of Bridge House. This was the first such commendation to a private property in 1995, has this remained an annual award I wondered?

After crossing the nature reserve at Leyburn Old Glebe Field I catch up with other walkers but true to form I’m directed along a less used path and our ways quickly part company. I can hear a train on the Wensleydale Railway and consider waiting to take a picture but the sound told me this was the standard motive power on this preserved line and diesels have little appeal to me.

The Shawl - Leyburn

The Shawl - Leyburn

It surprises me how easy it to be shown something new in a place I think I know well. Shawl Fields was yet one more such place, new for me but well known by many others and I have to wait to take my turn through the gate before making my way into a busy market place where tourists and locals keep the traders busy on a perfect spring afternoon and Easter Good Friday.

 
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Great English Walk map of section 29

Great English Walk map of section 29

 

 

Great English Walk hills and dales of section 29

Great English Walk hills and dales of section 29

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