RECENTLY I was confronted with some friends who wanted to go to Ripley Castle and a dog who could not be left in a hot car. The result was a five-mile walk around the grounds of the castle and a walk I had not done before, something I always enjoy!

Ripley Castle is a splendid Grade I listed public house three miles from Harrogate. It has been the home of the Ingleby family for most of its history, most notably when they housed the members of the gunpowder plot as they bought horses in 1605. Sir William was lucky to survive the fallout and the castle itself was used for the filming of the recent TV series, Gunpowder. However this walk (with my dog) did not take in the castle, although I did park and explored the pretty cobbled streets of the village.

The walk itself explores the area around the castle grounds and starts by heading along a lane passing the southern walls. The track soon crosses a small river and in to some pleasant (and on a hot day) welcome patch of woodland. There is a place where you can view the castle from the lane on tip toes, the best view of the walk. The track climbs gradually westwards through Hollybank Woods and farmland until it reaches a minor road. Although the bluebells have gone, the woods are still alive with colour; stichwort, cowslip and ransom taking precedent. The views back along the River Nidd towards Harrogate and the Vale of York improve all the time. Carry on along the road west to the village.

Having explored the hamlet, return to a lane heading north at its east end heading towards Clint Grange Farm. The farm buildings are 500 metres away, a short detour enroute brings you to the old medieval Clint Cross, now mounted on a stone plinth. Do not continue in to the farmyard but take the signed stile on your left at the first large barn. The path carries on steadily north west till it passes through some woodland. At this stage turn right and carry on downhill towards the buildings of Whipley Hall. Having passed the hall there is a chance to turn right towards High Rails Farm, the benefit being a second cross just past the buildings.

I prefer following the lane initially east, then north and follow a path dropping steadily down hill and alongside a small (dry!) stream. After 500 metres the path meets a second path from the north at a high wall. Over the wall is the apparently impressive country house of Broxholme, originally part of the Dower House serving Ripley Castle. Stick to the high wall heading north east till it meets the B6165. Although this is a busy road there is a path next to the road which helps and it is little more than half a mile before entering the outskirts of Ripley. There are views over Ripley Lake as you enter the village. A pleasant couple of hours.

Fact File:

Distance: Roughly five miles

Height to Climb: 120m (400 feet)

Start: SE 284604. There is a large car park just to the south of the castle in Ripley.

Difficulty: Easy. On footpaths and good tracks.

Refreshments: The Boars Head is on the Ripley estate and there are a number of cafes nearby.

Be Prepared:

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 298) and in cloudy/misty conditions a compass. You must also wear the correct clothing and footwear for the outdoors. Whilst every effort is made to provide accurate information, walkers head out at their own risk.