This is a 3 mile (one-way) walk that takes about 1.5 hours, or a 6 mile ‘there and back’ walk, located on the Swinton Estate, Masham, North Yorkshire. The route is rough going in places, with some steep sections. Starting in the landscaped Parkland, the route climbs up to the edge of the moors, following the Sole Beck stream. Once you have treated yourself to some coffee and cake at the Bivouac café, you can stay in the yurts or tree lodges for the night or retrace your steps back to Swinton Park.
Along the way you will discover Swinton Park (with its beautiful walled garden, deer park and lakes), a wild stretch of path alongside Sole Beck, the ruins of Lobley Hall and several rolling grass pastures that lead you up to the Bivouac site. This walk is designed to encourage people to discover the 20,000 acre Swinton Estate with varying terrain such as woodland, reservoirs, moorland, gardens and parkland. The route follows permissive paths within Swinton Park (provided with permission of Swinton Estate) and public footpaths on the wider estate. Entrance Fees apply (£5 per adult and £2.50 per child) and gate codes are required throughout the walk- these can be obtained from the Estate Shop (the starting point for the walk).
Swinton Estate welcomes visiting walkers (and canine companions) but please remember the usual countryside code rules: take your litter home with you, keep dogs under close control and be careful to shut any gates behind you.
If you are a visiting walker, please park in the Swinton Country Club and Spa car park. From Masham, head south on Park Street and then turn right into Swinton Terrace (which becomes Swinton Road). After about a mile, you will see a side road and the impressive stone gates for Swinton Park on your right. Do NOT enter these gates, but instead turn right to follow the side road. Ignore two more gateways within the wall on your left (the first is Exit Only and the second is for Deliveries) and take the third gateway which leads you into the parking area for the Country Club and Spa. The approximate post code is HG4 4JH.
The starting point is the Parkland information lectern- to reach this from the Estate Shop, follow the signs through the walled garden to the Parkland.
Walk up the slope with the Deer Park on your left- you should see the deer grazing nearby. At the fork in the path, go right so that Coffin Pond is on your left. Look out for the Anglo Saxon coffins under the trees on your right and the old boathouse. Follow the path over the bridge and up the hill to reach the next fork.
From here continue on the path towards Top Lake, ignoring the left hand fork. The path will bring you to the shore of the lake and the information lectern. With the lake on your left, go past the turning for the Dales View route, keeping the lake on your left. You will then go past some interesting follies which are Druid’s seats and arches. After these, turn right and follow the signs to Quarry Gill.
Facing the Parkland gates, go through them, onto the road and turn right. Go down the road to the T-junction and turn left, and continue along the road. Just before the sign for the ford, go over the stile on the left into the field. From here, go up the hill, heading slightly to the right towards the large tree. At the tree, go through the gate into the next field. Depending on the crop currently growing, either follow the footpath which cuts straight through the field to the gateway in the stone wall on the other side of the field, or take the track to the left which follows the upper side of the field and then drops down to the gate.
Once at the gate, follow the track through the woodland. The track will drop down to the stream (Sole Beck), and you will need to climb over the wall or fence at the end. Staying on the left hand side of the stream, climb up the bank to the path which then continues upstream. Take care, as this section of the path can be overgrown and rough going. As you head up the slope, you will find the ruins of Lobley Hall (which dates from the late 1600s) on your left. From there, the track drops away to the right- follow this as it continues upstream to where it meets the road (with barns to the left).
Turn left onto the road, and before the bridge turn right. Cross the stile to the right of the gate and follow the path up the base of the valley, with woodland on your left. Then take a right hand turn as the path follows a stone wall up the side of the valley. Take care again, as sections of the field here can be very damp. At the top of the hill you will see a stile and the Swinton Bivouac Café barn beyond it.
Swinton Bivouac Café Bistro serves snacks and honest wholesome food, and you are welcome to pop in for a coffee and cake, a light lunch, or make a night of it with their themed evenings and range of drinks and local beers. With a rustic style and breathtaking location, this is somewhere truly out of the ordinary, and close to the Druid’s Temple – a folly well worth a visit.