Discovering what's on our doorstep is a joy. I took the chance this morning to go for a run and compile the descriptions below, so that you can follow it too.
Here is a 4+ mile route that you can enjoy on foot from our holiday cottages in Bank Newton - taking in a short section of the Pennine Way national trail and the towpath of the Leeds Liverpool Canal - and leading you to the village of East Marton.
Navigationally it is quite straightforward - helped by the canal towpath and the five bridges that you pass - all of which have their own number (Bridges 160-164). Highlights along the way include the 'Double Arched Bridge' at East Marton, which sits beneath the A59 main road. Doesn't the bridge look fabulous?
So, to begin the walk. From the holiday cottages at Newton Grange Farm, follow the public bridleway and track past Newton Grange Farmhouse (on your right), and with the cottages behind you. The path goes uphill initially, then levels out. There are some great views in either direction - one way looking across fields grazed by sheep towards the circuitous route of the canal (someone recently described it to me as "The Curly's") and in the other direction, across farmland to the skyline of the Yorkshire Dales National Park and surrounding hills including Sharp Haw, above Skipton.
After about half a mile the track descends and it is here that the route picks up the line of the Pennine Way national trail. Cross over the little bridge ahead of you, keeping straight on.
After a few hundred metres the Pennine Way footpath is signposted to the left, across a stile and fields, but continue straight ahead on the lane. When you reach a fork in the road, take the left hand fork and continue on the public highway until you reach the canal bridge at East Marton. Rather than crossing over the canal here, please take the path on the left hand side just before crossing the bridge, which takes you down on to the canal towpath. There is a waymarker post for the Pennine Way, signposted to Thornton-in-Craven.
Follow the canal towpath in the direction of Thornton-in-Craven and very soon you will take your first glimpse of the Double Arched Bridge, photographed below.
After walking underneath the bridge, continue alongside the towpath and take a moment to look back at the bridge behind you.
Ahead of you is Bridge 160 of the canal, which is where this route leaves the canal.
Walk over the Bridge 160 and cross over in to the field.
You will soon see the Church of St Peter ahead of you.
Pass the church and walk through the gate, closing it behind you.
Follow the road ahead of you, it bears round to the right and goes uphill past several houses until it reaches the main road, the A59. Here you need to cross over the road and turn 'right' down to the green and pub in East Marton. Please take care as you cross the main road - traffic may be travelling fast.
In East Marton, I couldn't help but record the Horse Chestnut Tree in the village - right by the bridleway sign. It is, after all, not long until 'conker time'. Conkers are always something I associate with East Marton. My Grandad used to bring my brother and I here when we were little on so many occasions. One time, we filled the boot of his Red Ford Sierra car with hundreds and hundreds of conkers from East Marton. Grandad grew up on a farm in East Marton and loved taking us there.
Continue on until you see the traditional red post box and telephone box on the green in East Marton, adjacent to the Cross Keys Pub.
Here, take a left hand turn and walk down the hill and further along the lane is Abbot's Harbour - a rustic and authentic tea room.
Continue past Abbots Harbour on your right, until you reach the canal bridge ahead of you. Here, cross over Bridge 162 and walk down to the right hand side to join the canal towpath. You then walk under Bridge 162, which is in the direction of Bank Newton.
Here it is navigationally easy to return to Newton Grange Cottages - you simply follow the towpath all the way until Bridge 164 (which pretty much marks where our farm is located).
So you can relax in to enjoying the serenity of the place, but do keep your concentration. It can be uneven underfoot and slippery/muddy after rainfall. I managed to run the route in regular trainers today, but it won't be long before off-road footwear are a real necessity!
The morning was still and warmer than I anticipated, and reflections in the water of the canal were plentiful.
Continue along the canal towpath, walking underneath Bridge 163.
I made a mental note of blackberry bushes along the way - in time for next year's harvest (who doesn't love home made blackberry and apple crumble, using produce you have foraged yourself?).
I spotted some rose hips too. Watch our for 'itching powder' tricks, I thought. My mind must have retreated back in to moments of childhood. That is the joy of running and exploring off-road outdoors. Slowing down to let your mind wander as you take in your surroundings.
The route passes a couple of wooden benches - perfect for a flask of coffee if you're out hiking - or in my case, maybe I ought to have used the bench for a few tricep dips....well, there's always next time?!
The open and green pastoral scenery is calming and tranquil - rural England in every sense.
Back to Bridge 164 and nearly home.
The route takes you under Bridge 164 and along the towpath to where it meets the lane. Here you turn right and go back down the hill to the cottages.
So in summary, a 4+ mile route with lots of interest along the way. Sometimes it is only when you pause long enough to take in the surroundings where you are that you truly notice the detail on your doorstep. These days I think it's called mindfulness. Whatever it's called, I can highly recommend it. It's good for the soul.
Please follow the route at whatever pace suits you best and do remember to check the weather forecast and wear appropriate footwear and clothing. I hope that you enjoy it, whatever the season.