Coneysthorpe to Firby
Leaving Coneysthorpe this section of the Centenary Way heads towards the hamlet of Firby via Castle Howard. It is a stunning walk through parts of the Castle Howard Estate, the Howardian Hills AONB, arable farmland and wild woodland. Total distance walked is 6.9 miles. Along the way, you’ll see various parts of the Castle Howard estate, a 400-year-old oak tree, the ruins of an old priory and some stunning views.
Please note that this section of the walk crosses the A64 York to Scarborough road at Cranbeck. This is a very busy road with high-speed traffic. People have been killed crossing here and for years there has been campaigning for a footbridge. Please be careful.
Much of the Centenary Way is covered by the Ordnance Survey Map of Howardian Hills & Malton (Yorkshire Wolds North) The OS Explorer Map 300 is centred around Malton and contains parts of the Howardian Hills and The Yorkshire Wolds. With this map you also get a code for use on your iOS or Android smartphone or tablet. The OS Explorer map for Howardian Hills & Malton is available in both the standard paper version and weatherproof ‘Active’ version.
Coneysthorpe to Cranbeck
The previous section of the Way will have brought you to the village green in Coneysthorpe. If you are walking this section in isolation there is car parking available in front of the village hall. A £1 charge applies (honesty box).
Walk along the village green to the war memorial and turn left onto the main road passing through the village. Look for a white gate on the right-hand side after about 200 yards. This takes you onto a wide track through parkland. Follow the track in a southeasterly direction. A footpath sign directs you diagonally across the parkland towards Ray Wood which is managed by the Yorkshire Arboretum. When you reach the wood you rejoin the track. Turn left along the track and the edge of the wood and over a concrete bridge.
Turn right to walk through the buildings of Bog Hall and continue onto a track heading south through farmland towards Low Gaterley which is about a mile away. As you approach Low Gaterley there are great views of the Mausoleum on the Castle Howard estate. Once you arrive at Low Gaterley turn right and then right again onto a surfaced lane. Follow the lane for about half a mile.
Turn left onto a track between fields, towards a wooded area. Turn left onto a good track which runs along the edge of the wood for half a mile. I was lucky enough to walk this section in springtime when the woods are full of bluebells. If you look left as you walk along the wood, you can catch a glimpse of the Mausoleum again. Turn right just before a statue. This is the Four Faces. Nicholas Hawksmoor designed this 20-foot high statue.
The path which is signed Centenary Way goes downhill through Pretty Wood and then rises past an ancient and huge oak tree. This 400-year-old tree is nicknamed King Oak. Pretty Wood is managed by the Castle Howard estate. At the side of King Oak, there is an information board about the wood.
Leave the wood into open countryside with a hedge on the left. Continue onto a good track. At a signpost continue for about 300 yards until you reach another sign. Turn left here towards Cranbeck. Continue now with the hedge on your right, cross another field to a gate at the corner of a wood. Go through the gate and follow the enclosed path with the wood on your left and a fence on your right as far as the main A64 road.
Cross the stile and turn right to walk up the road for 200 yards. At this point cross the A64 to the road which leads down to Cranbeck Village. Please be extra careful, this is a very busy road.
Cranbeck to Firby
Walk down into Cranbeck Village. Pass the stone village sign, and follow a minor road off to the right. After about a hundred yards pass through the beech hedge on your right and turn immediately left. Follow the path to a gate which leads into Ox Carr Wood.
Turn right and follow a good track through the woods. You’ll occasionally hear the sound of trains as the Malton to York railway runs along the valley beneath you. When you arrive at a steep downward track on the left, follow this and turn right at the bottom. When you reach a surfaced road, cross over and continue through the woods. The track goes over a number of small bridges and boardwalks until it arrives at a gate which exits onto farmland. Follow the path through three fields until you arrive at a small gate just above the village of Kirkham.
Turn left here, go over the railway crossing and the bridge over the river. Follow the road to Kirkham Priory. These picturesque ruins are managed by English Heritage. Carry on up the hill and turn left just before the Stone Trough Pub. It’s now a road walk all the way to Firby. Carry on along the road until you see a turning on the left for Firby. The route that is described by NYCC leaves the road and cuts across fields and through Firby Hall. However, there is a diversion sign where it should leave the road.
Where to next
The next section of the Centenary Way will take you from Firby to Malton. There is no public transport in Firby, however, on a Thursday and Saturday, it’s possible to get a bus from Malton to Coneysthorpe. You’d need to set off early though as the bus leaves Malton at one o’clock. Combining the two walks, Coneysthorpe to Malton is a total distance of about 12 miles.
I’m very grateful to the guide “The Centenary Way” written by North Yorkshire County Council which was referenced whilst writing this post.
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