Discover follies and unspoilt villages on this walk near Scotch Corner

Home Farm, Hartforth

Home Farm, Hartforth - Credit: Paul Kirkwood

How many times have you whizzed past Scotch Corner heading for Scotland or the Lake District? As well as being a staging post on long journeys the junction is also the gateway to some fine walking country on the northern fringes of the Yorkshire Dales. This route is an architecture enthusiast’s delight, linking together numerous follies, other interesting buildings, industrial ruins and a cave.

Hartforth bridge

Hartforth bridge - Credit: Paul Kirkwood

The first destination is the estate village of Hartforth. As you approach, look for the Black Hill folly high up on the right. Three crenelated gables ends were built in 1800 as part of fold yard for cattle. The structure was commissioned as an eye-catcher by the Cradock family of Hartforth Hall below which, until recently, was a hotel. A recent addition to its buildings is Home Farm house constructed in 2009 in a Georgian gothic style along with an eye-catcher arch at the far end of a canal pond. A stone bridge over the beck also evokes the era.

Ravensworth Castle

Ravensworth Castle - Credit: Paul Kirkwood

Ravensworth Castle, a little further along the route, is genuinely old. It was built in the 14th century and subsequently dismantled by villagers and its stone used to build houses. A sharp climb takes you to another highlight, Kirby Hill.

Dakyn almshouses

Dakyn almshouses - Credit: Paul Kirkwood

The enclosed green behind the church featuring the restored 16th century Dakyn almshouse could be a film set.


Whashton - Credit: Paul Kirkwood

Approaching Whashton see if you can find the letterbox-style entrance to a cave. Entry is restricted to the slim, agile and brave! Wooden hatches in the green in Whashton village open to form two quoits pitches. A little further round the route are the mossy remains of lead works.

Gillingwood Hall folly temple

Gillingwood Hall folly temple - Credit: Paul Kirkwood

The grand finalé to the folly feast comes at Gillingwood Hall farm. Here you will see two garden buildings built for the Wharton family of the former hall which was destroyed by fire in 1750. They are a Greek temple within a tower and ruined Bell Park pavilion. Peek over a wall on your right as you leave the farm to glimpse another remnant, an archway that was once the hall entrance.

Gilling West

Gilling West - Credit: Paul Kirkwood

Complete your outing with a stroll down the pretty high street of Gilling West, including two pubs, a working blacksmith and Victorian school house.

Tip: Take binoculars.

1. Just north of Gilling Bridge head north-west on footpath and over four stiles into Hartforth. Continue ahead on Tarmac lane and at corner of green in front of treehouse turn L down walled lane. Go over stone bridge then turn right across field, keeping hall on the right. Just after path meets stony track cross footbridge beside ford. Fork left off track to cross beck via footbridge then bear right. Keep forest on your right (and cross stepping stones) until you reach road beside Whashton Bridge.

2. Cross road and continue ahead, over stile following fingerpost. Cross second stile and shortly after small brick structure fork left across field, over stile and across another field. Head into the corner 30 yards to the right of white sign stating ‘No public footpath’. Go over stile, pass pigsty and after another 30 yards turn left through gate onto stoned track. Pass through new small handgate then fork right towards corner of field and through new stile to reach road. Turn right on to road into Ravensworth.

3. At the village green fork left down gravel track around old school and bearing left. As track bears sharp right continue ahead through metal handgate beside cattle grid to follow stony track. About 100 yards down track turn off it to the left via stepping stones over brook and immediately over stile to follow waymarkers uphill towards church tower. Cross stile then head directly to v-shaped wall stile high on left and road beyond. Pass Shoulder of Mutton pub and fork left to enter Kirkby Hill green.

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4. Cross it diagonally and continue down grassy lane. After lane bears left, go through stone stile beside field gate. Bear left following faint cart track and over slight rise then walk to the right of gorse bushes beside boulders. Go through stile and continue ahead towards wire fence at which bear right. After a short incline go over stile, turn right and go around field edge. Go over stile on right and turn left walking beside hedge. Go through field gate and over stile to reach road. Cross it and continue ahead signed ‘Bridle path only’ to enter wood.

To find Whashton cave at manhole cover leave bridlepath to walk along embankment. After 15 yards drop down far side. Cave is tucked under tree roots.

5. At end of bridle path at road turn right to and through Whashton. Where road becomes track turn left on to bridleway and through field gate. Go through field gate and uphill on to stony track along edge of wood then into it. Cross stepping stones. Leaving wood follow farm track.

6. A T-junction of tracks turn right then at cattle grid bear left through two metal gates. Half way up hill turn left through field gate onto bridleway. Proceed to right of wood passing through two metal field gates and down fenced lane to left of Gillingwood Hall farm. At the end go through metal gate, keep ahead across farmyard then through another gate to follow drive from farm. Stay on it as it bears left and at T-junction turn R to follow bridleway back to start.

Start/finish: NZ 183053.
Map: OS Explorer 304 Darlington & Richmond; OS Landranger 92 Richmond & Barnard Castle. 
Distance: 13.7km (8.5 miles).
Accessibility: One short, steep ascent and many styles.
Time: 5 hours. 
Parking: Gilling West.
Refreshments: The Angel, Gilling West (01748 824304); The White Swan, Gilling West (; The Bay Horse, Ravensworth (01748 889415); Stoneygate Farm Shop (; The Shoulder of Mutton, Kirby Hill (