IT is often best to walk one way along a river rather than repeat the return on the opposite bank.

On this walk taking a bus to the start and returning alongside the River Ure is the best plan to ensure there are surprises along the way.

Take the bus from Masham to Middleham and return south alongside the Ure. The no 159 leaves Masham market place at 10.15 (at present, please check) and takes 20 minutes.

Middleham is a very attractive Dales village, one of the best.

The castle is worth a visit and overlooks the village, find it via a series of cobbled streets from the market place.

To start the walk, take the main road heading east for a quarter of a mile from the end of the village to a farm lane heading south. Continue down the lane for three quarters of a mile to the River Cover.

The lane becomes a footpath as it approaches the river. Turn left and follow the river through fields to Cover Bridge, the stepping stones opposite will probably be under water after the recent weather so do not attempt them.

There is a traditional Dales pub at Cover Bridge situated on a fine pack horse bridge. It sits on the River Cover, just 150 metres from the confluence with the River Ure.

The next mile of this ever changing walk is a real pleasure. The path sticks close to the river (Cover soon becoming the Ure) as it passes serenely through the landscape of the area.

As well as walkers it is popular with fishermen… do watch out for the legendary ‘kelpie’ fish which allegedly leaps out to devour its victims.

The path follows a mix of woodland and open walking till it arrives at the ruins of Jervaulx Abbey. Jervaulx Abbey was a Cistercian Abbey, the ruins today creating only a part impression of the size and power of the abbey’s past.

Explore the remains of the abbey, set amongst the wild flowers, trees and shrubs which have been allowed to grow up within its walls. Then take the main track/road which crosses through the grounds of Jervaulx Abbey, a well preserved park full of sheep and deer (although I have never seen the deer!). After passing the gate house on the edge of the estate turn left at the road and follow this down to Kilgram Bridge. Although it was the monks who originally built this fine bridge if you lean over the side and look carefully in to the running water you will be able to see the foundations of an old Roman road, part of a ford for their legions on their way north.

Return a few metres south past Kilgram Grange to a path heading parallel to the river. Keep the river in view as the path winds its way for two miles (sometimes difficult to see on the ground) until it arrives in the attractive village of Low Ellington. Head south east alongside some higher ground on a path past a small plantation and bend left back towards the river bank. The path then heads south to some marshy/wet ground before arriving at the wetlands reserve of Marland. Follow the marked paths through the reserve. You exit the wetlands at its southern end just a few hundred metres from the outskirts of Masham. The reserve makes an interesting end to this walk full of contrasts.

Fact File:

Distance: Roughly 11.5 miles.

Height to Climb: 130m (430 feet)

Start: SE 127878. The bus drops you in the centre of Middleham.

Difficulty: Medium. The paths may be muddy and wet in places.

Refreshments: There is plenty of pubs and cafes in Masam. There is a café at Jervaulx Abbey and a pub at Cover Bridge en route.

The route description and sketch map only provide a guide to the walk. You must take out and be able to read a map (O/S Explorer OL30 & 302) and in cloudy/misty conditions a compass. You must also wear the correct clothing and footwear for the outdoors.