Last weekend the conditions were less than ideal for getting out for a walk. Storm Arwen swept across Scotland, the North East and Yorkshire, leaving thousands (including us) without power. The lights went out on Friday night and we were without electricity (and consequently heating and hot water) until just after 6pm on Sunday. So of course we had the first snow of the year! Huddling under a blanket in the living room, a long walk in the snow doesn’t seem like the most alluring option, no matter how pretty it is. Therefore, when the wind finally abated on Sunday, Sam suggested that we stay reasonably local and explore Ellington Firth near Masham, which I had no idea even existed!
If you search for walks from the Ellington Firth car park on the OS Maps app, there are a few circular routes which pop up, ranging from 3 miles to over 10 miles. However, with the snow coming down we decided to ditch the route we had planned to stay in the relative shelter offered by the trees, and spent an hour exploring the footpaths criss-crossing the woods.
Ellington Firth is owned by the Swinton Estate, who also own Nutwith Common and the Druid’s Temple which I’ve previously featured on my blog. There is one public footpath running through the wood but this is supplemented by a network of permissive footpaths which the public are allowed to use during daylight hours. We walked from one end of the wood to the other and back again which took us just under an hour.
It was very quiet while we were wandering around – possibly due to the snow – but I can’t imagine this place is ever hugely busy. For starters, if you search for Ellington on Instagram there are a grand total of five posts! While there aren’t draw dropping views like you get on longer, tougher walks, there was a sense of total serenity which I think you can only find in woodland. We were surrounded by the beauty of nature at every turn – leaves edged in spiky frost like a sparkly mascara, ferns still vibrantly green bowed under an inch of snow and trees dusted with white in every direction. I said to Sam multiple times that I felt like I was walking through a scene from a Christmas card – I wasn’t feeling festive before but I certainly am now!
One of my favourite things about woodland walks is the amount of life you can spot if you look closely at your surroundings. And even in the snow, I certainly wasn’t disappointed: there were hares dashing through the snow, pheasant tracks stamped in sharp relief across the path, and tiny birds making a last minute dash for winter rations before the snow really started to come down.
This walk a lovely gentle walk for a Sunday afternoon. There were no strenuous ups and downs and the path, excepting one short section, was wide and level throughout. The snow hid the surface underneath but I have a sneaking suspicion we managed to bypass an extremely boggy patch which the cold weather had frozen – the main upside to walking in wintery conditions!
Dog friendly rating – 4/5. I think this walk is a popular local dog walking spot – the only other people we saw all had dogs and all seemed like this was a regular spot for them. There are signs up asking that dogs are kept on a lead so we didn’t let ours off, which I was very glad about when we found a series of pheasant feeders just off the path! There are no stiles on this walk though and no livestock, as well as being completely free of road walking. There is a series of cross country jumps for horses scattered along the paths so keep your eyes peeled for horses moving at speed – we didn’t see any, although the dogs enjoyed turning their paws to jumping!
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