There is no better way to welcome in the New Year than to go for a crisp winter walk. We get out early every year, while the sun is still low in the sky, and the majority of the world is still sleeping off the night before! This year people obviously couldn’t go out celebrating so we opted for a quieter walk in a less-frequented part of Wensleydale – just in case more people joined the early morning New Year’s Day brigade!
This is a lovely short walk if you don’t have the time or inclination for a longer walk, but still want the views and sense of solitude of a longer or more remote walk. Starting from the quiet Wensleydale village of Redmire (free roadside parking), this gentle walk rambles across mostly flat fields, to reach the impressive medieval fortress of Bolton Castle.
When we did this walk there had been a fair bit of snow on the hills, but not much along the route, which made for the perfect combination of easy walking for magical snowy views. The effort:view ratio on this walk is outstanding (although in fairness a dusting of snow makes any view Christmas card worthy).
We followed this very easy route on Where2Walk, which is a great place for walk inspiration in North Yorkshire and the Lakes. While the walk is nearly completely flat the terrain is often pathless, and you need to rely on landmarks and your own navigation skills to find the way. This isn’t too hard as you are generally walking from one stile or gate to the next! There had been a prolonged period of wet weather just before we did this walk and the fields were completely saturated – it was how I imagine walking through a paddy field would be – but the views were stunning and at least the water didn’t go over our boots! Apart from the river crossing where the stepping stones were completely submerged…
Bolton Castle was built in the fourteenth century by the wealthy Scrope family and is today a popular Yorkshire Dales tourist attraction. The castle and gardens are open to the public (admissions charges apply, details on the castle website) and there is a gallery, shop, tea room and falconry centre. Due to the birds dogs are not permitted on the site, so we just had a walk around the field by the car park, and then carried on with our walk.
I have to say this is one of the most photogenic castles in the area – it’s a lot more intact than nearby Middleham and gives off a similar kind of medieval vibe! Although sadly there aren’t as many racehorses knocking about as there are in Middleham.
Dog friendly rating – 3.5/5. Much of this walk passes through grazing land, where you’ll need to keep your dog on a lead if there’s livestock about. We were lucky and there were a few empty fields without sheep in, but otherwise there are a few short enclosed lanes where you can also let your dog off if you like. The majority of this walk is off-road but there are a few short stretches along quiet roads. Merry’s favourite part, of course, was having the opportunity to paddle in the river! There were a few stiles along the way but these were all the ‘easy’ kind that the dogs could clamber over which are definitely our favourite kind!
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