We were holidaying at Westholme Estate yet again so we decided to plan walks from the door as it would be ridiculous not to take advantage of such a great base camp and the walks it offered without driving. We had purchased a great ‘Dales Pack’ from walking-books.com and chose a walk up to Bolton Castle from the pack, taking in a quick look at Aysgarth Falls on route.
We walked from our lodge towards the impressive St. Andrew’s Church which looks over High Force Aysgarth Falls. Crossing the road over the River Ure gave a photo opportunity of the Higher Falls. Once over the bridge, there’s an area to the left where you can either go to have a closer look at the falls or turn right up a path into the National Park visitors centre. We walked across the car park and crossed the main road into Freeholders Wood. We had decided at planning stage to do the route backwards, not a reflection on the route card, just the way the weather looked we wanted to get onto the high ground sooner rather than later.
The track through the woods is well worn and simple to follow, exiting the woods and through the fields heading north towards Carperby. The fields are open and give you a great view of the surrounding moorland and high ground. We entered Carperby, a lovely village that looks like a great place to which I could retire, from the village we turned up an incline to Ponderledge Scar. Then there’s a path bearing right following a fence/wall up onto moorland where it levels out nicely. I know I do bang on about sheep and yeah, yeah they have equal rights to the hills, but as we reached the top, I saw something which made me think our woolly friends are sometimes just taking the piss out of me. We saw a line of obviously pregnant sheep making their way into a gate. I put Alfie on his lead and waited for the Ewes to make to complete their journey. We waited, and waited, and waited as sheep after sheep trooped into this field in single file. Initially in a rush but as the merry little bunch grew in confidence the procession became slower and slower, and the gap between them got wider. So for about 5 minutes we stood staring at this slow moving queue of mutton filing their way through this gate, I’m sure some were laughing and if they had fingers, they’d have given me one.
When the flow of sheep had subsided we carried on the route turning east and a chance to get dive bombed by Lapwings protecting their nesting site. I quickly glanced back to the field where the sheep had dawdled into, looked like bloody New Zealand! From here you can see the dale, which I’m guessing the River Ure has carved out over the years. The route is clear and with the added bonus of yellow spots dotted on the occasional fence post or wall which some kind soul has placed on for our benefit, for ease of navigation.
The path goes through probably the scruffiest set of farm barns (no house) I’ve seen in many a mile. However, Alfie found the sheep manure which was spread across the path very exciting. He found the freshest pile and probably the deepest, and proceeded to roll around in it ensuring a nice thick coat of sheep s@@t to accompany us for the rest of the journey. My attempts to stop my naughty Springer were met with a scowl from the farmer as he sped past on his quad. Mind you the air was a bit blue!
We walked through the grounds of Bolton Castle with a definite ‘air’ about us, god knows what all the visitors to the 14th century castle thought when we strolled through with what sort of looked like a dog, but bared more resemblance to a walking sheep pat. The castle itself is in really good nick considering, a must for a nice cultured visit if you get the chance.
Just after the castle is the little village Castle Bolton, again looks very ‘retirable’ but maybe a bit out of our price range, but who knows. The route takes the road down back over the main road and through another field, but this one graced us with not Ewes, but four hard looking Rams who didn’t appreciate the interruption to their sleep. Down to the farm at Low Thoresbay and along Thoresbay Lane and through Hollins House and back to the sounds of Aysgarth Falls, this time the Lower Falls. Back in Freeholders Wood and a look at one of the carved seats one of our twitter friends had told us about.
We ended the walk in Aysgarth Falls Hotel for a cider or two. I shouldn’t laugh but whilst relaxing in the pub two or three people walked passed Aflie, who was still crusty and smelly, and they gave him a good old stroke before we had chance to warn them. Hope they enjoyed their meals.
All in all, this is a great route, well-worn and marked, amazing views and wildlife plentiful. Hats off to the author they have captured some good features along the way.
Alfie however, got a well-deserved bath in the beck back at the Estate!