Maps: OS Landrangers 104 and 105; Explorer 289
Start: Kiddal Lane End (401396)
Finish: Tadcaster bus station (488435)
Distance: 9.1 miles
Natural England NCA: 30 (Southern Magnesian Limestone)
Special interest: Bramham Park, Magnesian Limestone, Newton Kyme, Tadcaster
From the east-bound bus stop opposite the Fox and Grapes pub, walk eastwards on the grass verge for 50m. Cross the stile in the hedge on the left and continue in the same direction to Mangrill Lane (B). Turn left and at the path crossing (C) go right. Then don’t miss the left turn at (D) and at the T-junction (E) go right. A very attractive route now continues through the Bramham Park Estate along wide, well-signed paths through the parkland.
At Wellhill Farm (F), the path goes to the left of the farm buildings. Continue down and over the beck and through the trees to the A1(M). The path then goes right, parallel to the motorway, before crossing over on a road bridge (G). On the other side, turn left on a tarred public footpath. Where this comes out on to the minor road, turn right up a slight rise and then turn left along Aberford Road (H). Bramham village lies over to our left. (At Headley Lane (I) there is an escape route, but it is nearly two miles long, to the bus stop on the A64 close to Hazelwood Castle.)*
The full walk continues ahead for a short distance, passing Vicarage Lane. Then shortly after, turn right down the broad, firm byway called Heygate Lane (J). At the end of the byway (K) the track turns right and becomes classed as a footpath but it is still wide and clear.
Now follows a pleasant mile of farm paths twisting around field edges and keeping next to a meandering ditch. Passing three farms, the trail crosses Rudgate (a surprisingly unstraight Roman road) and comes to the A659 (L). Go straight over and down Croft Lane into Newton Kyme. We are now following the Ebor Way.
Just after the road junction in Newton Kyme, the path goes in front of Newton Kyme Hall and through a gate on the right and leads round to St Andrew’s Church. Sadly, it has had to be kept locked (although the key can be obtained from the keyholders) but the porch is open and can be used as a refreshment stop. From the church, the path continues across attractive parkland and bends left down to the River Wharfe (M).
There are now two miles of very pleasant riverside strolling as the Ebor Way hugs the tight meanders of the Wharfe. Approaching Tadcaster, the11-arch bridge that used to carry the rail line spanning the river and the adjacent flood plain makes an impressive view, as does the powerful weir just afterwards. The weir marks the limit of high tides on the river. We enter Tadcaster at Bridge Street and turn left over the recently repaired bridge to the bus station on the right.
*If you feel you have to use this escape route, Headley Lane is a pleasant byway. At Headley Hall the path twists through the buildings but some waymarks are missing, so pay careful attention to the map. Then the path goes along field sides, turning right and left, to the stile by the A64. Go right on the cycle lane for a short distance to the bus stops at Hazelwood Castle.
The Southern Magnesian Limestone (NCA 30) – a separate NCA from the Durham Magnesian Limestone NCA – is a long, thin zone that stretches from the Thornborough henges in the north to the outskirts of Nottingham further south. On the Coastliner Way it is encountered briefly between Bramham and Tadcaster. The limestone ridge forms a noticeable landscape feature and carries the A1(M) Motorway. The geology has influenced many aspects of the landscape, from use of its limestone resource as a local building material to the specialised grasslands associated with limestone areas.
Bramham Park and Hall
The Hall was built in 1698 and its famous landscape laid out over the following 30 years by Robert Benson, 1st Lord Bingley. After 300 years, which included the South Sea Bubble, the untimely death of the heir, dissipation by illegitimate children, crippling gambling debts, a devastating fire, the ravages of two World Wars and death duties, the same family still lives at Bramham and cares for its heritage.
Bramham Park represents an important stage in British architectural and garden design; the House is neither truly baroque nor typically palladian and the gardens lie somewhere between the formal and the picturesque. It is a rare survivor of the period and the owners have tried to keep it as its creator, Robert Benson, intended it. According to Nikolaus Pevsner: ‘Bramham Park is a grand and unusual house, but its gardens are grander and even more unusual’. Visits to both House and Gardens can be arranged by contacting the estate office (01937 846000) (firstname.lastname@example.org)
In addition to hosting sponsored runs on behalf of Cancer Research, the Park acts as venue for numerous other activities. Events held at Braham have included the following:
The Royal British Legion Major Series of 5k & 10k Obstacle Runs are billed as the UK’s most friendly obstacle races! The 5k and 10k courses are littered with all kinds of obstacles, hills, mud and water, but most importantly, are full of over 40 of the Major’s finest troops, there to help you through the obstacles, but maybe challenge you to a few as well. The Major is all about teamwork – it’s not just a run. Determination and the camaraderie of your fellow countrymen will help you through. Believe it or not, (they say) you will take part in the entire challenge with a huge grin on your face! Come along ready to take on a big challenge but most importantly to have a laugh, meet some new people, and maybe even get your own back on the Major!
By comparison, Total Warrior was advertised in 2016 as ‘The toughest 10k challenge on earth’. Likely participants were invited to join 15,000 warriors and prepare to take on the toughest 10k to 10 mile events on earth. Total Warrior is the pinnacle of obstacle racing providing the greatest courses set in the finest venues. With 25 to 30 punishing obstacles, you get the ultimate test of strength, stamina, mental determination and teamwork. Success is about survival and not speed, so forget about breaking records and bring everything you have to cross the finish line and become a Total Warrior!
The Bramham International Horse Trials are probably not quite so manic and the 2017 Trials will take place between 29th May and 19th June 2017. N.B. During this time the public footpaths will be closed. (For more information, please see www.bramham-horse.co.uk)
The Leeds Festival 2017 takes place over August Bank Holiday. However, the Park is closed for two months (August and September) to allow for preparation and dismantling of the facilities.
Newton Kyme is a tiny settlement but one that is full of interest. Two Roman forts have been identified by aerial photography. The larger one overlies a smaller, earlier, fort. Defensive ditches and other construction features are visible as cropmarks. To the south of the fort there is a section of Roman road which has an extensive vicus (civilian settlement) associated with it.
Hidden in trees a short distance away from the Hall is the ruined remains of Newton Kyme Castle (perhaps better described as a fortified manor house). Built from local magnesian limestone, it is thought to date from the 13th century.
Newton Kyme Hall probably had its origins in the 17th century but saw alterations and additions in the following two centuries. It, too, is built in part from magnesian limestone, though also with sandstone ashlar and a Welsh slate roof. The walk through the estate grounds passes the ha-ha (or man-made ditch between the garden and parkland) and a fine tree-lined avenue leading to the hall.
To see inside St Andrew’s Church it is necessary to obtain the key from the named key-holders as the building has to be locked during the day because of theft and vandalism.