|Statistics and Files|
|Start: Cote Hill||Distance: 4.8 miles (7.8 km)||Climbing: 116 metres|
|Grid Ref: SE325432||Time: 2 hours||Rating: Easy|
|GPX Route File||Google Earth File||About Harewood House|
|Start: Cote Hill||Distance: 4.8 miles (7.8 km)|
|Grid Ref: SE325432||Time: 2 hours|
|Climbing: 116 metres||Rating: Easy|
|GPX Route File||Google Earth File|
Summary: A visit to the delightful stately home and its estate grounds is guaranteed to provide a great day out. Apart from doing the fantastic walk around the estate one can explore the gardens inspired by the noted garden designers Edwin Lascelles and Capability Brown. One can also visit the Bird Gardens that includes a wide range of exotic birds kept in environmentally designed enclosures. The more active can then choose a visit to the Adventure Playground and also take a boat trip across the lake. Finally one could take a tour of the collections in Harewood House itself. The house has contains a good selection of fine art and period furniture. My walk provides a suitable and fitting preamble to all the choices of activities on a day out at Harewood House.
The walk around this immaculately managed estate starts at the entrance gates to Harewood Estate near Cote Hill on the A61 Leeds to Harrogate road two miles north of Leeds Grammar School. At just short of five miles the walk can be enjoyed in two hours but I would recommend you allow yourself three for there are many places to stop and take in the splendour of this illustrious estate. The first mile is a particular example. It takes you in a westerly direction towards New Bridge and the first encounter with the superb woodland but you won't want to hurry as this first section provides excellent views of Harewood House itself.
The view across from the path is majestic as can be seen in the first photograph. As I walked along with my wife Lil on a sunny spring day there were a few other walkers on the path. Nobody was rushing. Apart from the views of the house the Ducks and Geese were cavorting in the morning sun and ignoring the presence of us, probably as they are so used to the company of people in the estate grounds. One enterprising Duck watched us pass under him from his vantage point in a tree. There was further evidence of the local animals give and take when Sheep with Lambs just let us walk right past them. On my other walks they would have moved on to distance as I had approached. Not here though.
After a leisurely amble we eventually we reached New Bridge and walked into Piper Wood. More stops to our progress immediate occurred as Lil and I took time out to relax and watch the waters of an estate stream cascade over small falls on their progress to the estate lake. We did not know at the time that we were looking at the work of Lancelot Capability Brown who designed the grounds of the estate. It was serene and after a good viewing we moved on through the woods often stopping to glimpse at the Bluebells which were just coming out and to inspect the rich blossom colours of the trees in the woodland including cherry and rhododendron.
As we walked on we passed the site of the set of the television soap opera Emmerdale Farm. A purpose built village was built on the grounds of the estate in the late 1990's to isolate the popular soap opera from the prying public. Yes, the fictional village of Beckindale is really hidden in the Harewood Estate! It is well camouflaged from our walk by high walls and discretely planted trees though so roof-lines are all you'll see. If you feel disappointed don't be for a far more impressive estate village is to come on this walk. But even this has to wait for there is an exciting meeting with nature to come first. At least for us there was.
So far we had been walking on the Leeds Country Way designed footpath through the estate but now we left it to walk due north and out of the woodland at Carr House. We were now on the Ebor Way that eventually leads to York. At Carr House we saw our first close sight of the estate lake known as the Fish Pond. It is a little grander than the one I designed and constructed in my first garden. It was during our walk along a field near the Fish Pond when we were stopped in our tracks. Just hovering above the lake was this enormous bird. It's wingspan was incredibly long, what was it? During the start of the walk we had stopped to talk to two bird watchers and I had asked them what they were looking for. They had told me they were looking for Red Kites. Since 1999 these majestic birds have been re-introduced to the estate and to the Yorkshire Water estate near Eccup reservoir.
Now we had finally seen Red Kites. Looking upwards we saw three more hovering high in the sky above the Fish Pond. The wingspan is really impressive and if we had not been told about these birds I would have sworn they were eagles. The edges of their wings look like fingers. They are awesome. After gazing upwards in awe for a while we moved on and while walking away from the lake we spotted another one making its way to land in woodland nearby. As it landed the vivid rusty red colour of the bird caught the sun. It was incredibly beautiful. Both Lil and I felt touched by nature. What a day's walking we were having. And there was more to come.
Soon after our meeting with the kites we walked into the estate village of Stank. Despite its unappealing name the village of Stank is in the most quiet setting. he houses are all stone built and so beautiful. We stood by a little bridge near a stream and took the grandeur of the place in.
Then we moved on once more and continued on the Ebor Way alongside The Grove and then took a short detour to visit the church hidden away within the estate. The 15th century church much restored by Sir George Gilbert Scott in 1862-63 is in a magnificent quiet setting. The interior houses a collection of alabaster tombs and effigies depicting the English history of Medieval Armour. The church is open to visits from April to October but was closed when we called. The detour was still well worth it to see the church in spring sunshine. Lil and I looked at epitaphs on gravestones too.
It was poignant to read the epitaphs as many people were taken so young in times not so long past. A solemn place. After a while we left the church grounds and returned to the walk. After a walk along a walled drive between the church and Harewood village we stopped off at the Harewood Arms for a cold orange drink. It was much needed and after the drinks we moved on to our final stage of the walk by walking past the main entrance to Harewood House, following the roadside footpath about fifty meters further to reach a door in the estate wall which provides permissive access to the lovely woodland path through Wall Side Plantation which is followedf back to our starting point. (note: in springtime this stretch of the walk is wonderful as the woodland floor is beautifully covered with a carpet of Bluebells). To conclude: Lil and I had a super time walking in the Harewood estate. We often return to enjoy this special walk.