Paul Kirkwood takes us for a riverside ramble by the Ure

1. Head north on the A6108 from North Stainley. Just after leaving village turn right down private drive (but public footpath) which becomes an enclosed lane between wall and hedge. Bear left beside river and pass through caravan park. On leaving it fork right down stony track to stay on riverbank.

Great British Life: Pretty West Tanfield from Marmion Tower. (c) Paul KirkwoodPretty West Tanfield from Marmion Tower. (c) Paul Kirkwood

2. At main road turn right to cross bridge into West Tanfield then left at crossroads to visit the Marmion Tower. Retrace your steps over bridge then turn right onto bridleway then immediately right onto permissive path (not marked on OS map) which follows a river meander.

3. Emerge at and cross a farm lane then follow path ahead that runs just to the left of a track. After 150m fork right to pass shepherd huts. Enter wood and immediately fork right to return to riverbank. Cross stone bridge over beck. Emerging from the trees bear left on path across parkland. Go over step stile and follow track as it bears left into Mickley.

Great British Life: Fingerpost in Mickley. (c) Paul KirkwoodFingerpost in Mickley. (c) Paul Kirkwood

4. Turn left onto minor road then right signed to Kirkby Malzeard and left at t-junction towards Ripon. Bear left after Musterfield then after 80m turn right off road through gap in hedge and onto re-routed footpath (not yet updated on OS map) beside road. Follow field edge, bearing sharp right at metal gates. Pass quarry and proceed along broad track as it passes between a wood and embankment.

Great British Life: Village pond, North Stainley. (c) Paul KirkwoodVillage pond, North Stainley. (c) Paul Kirkwood

5. Eventually, leave track, keeping ahead through new field gate and along right field edge towards North Stainley. Pass through hand gate and into village.


Towards the tower

Great British Life: Marmion Tower and St Nicholas' Church, West Tanfield. (c) Paul KirkwoodMarmion Tower and St Nicholas' Church, West Tanfield. (c) Paul Kirkwood

Your starting point, North Stainley is unusually picturesque for a largely modern village. The cricket pitch and pavilion are idyllic as is the adjacent duck pond. The southern approach features an old lock-up, a small fir tree planted as part of the Queen's Green Canopy initiative, brazier for the jubilee beacon and a stag sculpture made out of bicycle parts to commemorate the Tour de France.

Soon after setting off look out for the rustic 18th century Sleningford Watermill as you pass through a riverside caravan and camping park which also has an information kiosk with leaflets. Mickley, reached via an aquatic conservation area beside the River Ure, has plenty of appeal. A bench in front of a beautifully converted chapel is a perfect place to pause.

The highlight of the route, however, is the Marmion Tower in West Tanfield, another peaceful spot. It's a three-storey 15th century gatehouse that was the entrance to a former fortified manor house. Once sketched by JMW Turner and owned by English Heritage, the tower is open every day and there's no charge. The view upriver from the bridge is a calendar classic.

Eat here

Great British Life: The Bruce Arms. (c) Paul KirkwoodThe Bruce Arms. (c) Paul Kirkwood

The Bruce Arms, West Tanfield. Cosy, family run, 18th century coaching inn. Featuring many local ingredients, the menu includes a lunchtime ploughman's and Thirkleby duck for dinner. Dogs welcome. Closed Mondays and Tuesdays.

Great British Life: The Bull Inn, West Tanfield. (c) Paul KirkwoodThe Bull Inn, West Tanfield. (c) Paul Kirkwood

The Bull Inn, West Tansfield. Make the most of any last rays of autumn sunshine by eating outside in a spot overlooking the bridge which claims to be 'Yorkshire's finest riverside beer garden'. The pub was once the ferrryman's cottage. Standard pub fare includes pies and fish and chips at around £15.

Note: The Staveley Arms in North Stainley is closed at the time of writing.

Compass points

Great British Life: North Stainley and West Tanfield circularNorth Stainley and West Tanfield circular

Start/finish: Postcode HG4 3LA, grid ref SE 287769.

Time/distance: 3.5 hours/11.3 km.

Accessibility: Follow directions closely as two footpaths on the route aren't marked on the OS map.

Maps: OS Landranger 99 Northallerton & Ripon, OS Explorer 298 Nidderdale.

Parking: Watermill Lane, off the A1608, in North Stainley.

Map link: