POPULAR LOCAL WALKS
GILLING WEST, JAGGER LANE, HARTFORTH AND RETURN.
Approx. 3 miles. Allow 1.5 hours. Lanes and field paths.
At the southern end of Gilling West, turn onto Waters Lane. This is an access road for several farms and therefore some light traffic uses it.
After passing by Old Mill Cottages on the right, the lane curves around and up towards Crabtree House Farm. Keep to the right of the farm on a fieldside track, at the top of which turn right onto what is known as Jagger Lane, towards the edge of Hartforth Wood.
This Jagger Lane is just one of the many ancient "Jagger lanes" which formed part of a great communications network of another age. It comes up from the old Reeth road, passes through Gilling Wood to Hartforth and then crosses the A66 to Melsonby. West of Crabtree House Farm the lane passes near to the remains of a lead smelting mill on Lead Mill (or Smelt Mill) Gill, one of many such mills associated with lead mining in Swaledale and other northern dales. Since Roman times lead was mined in these parts, mainly to be used for roofs, gutters and cisterns. In the 13th-15th centuries very large quantities were required for the great period of castle and church building in England.
These lead mining routes carried dressed ore to the mills and lead from the mills to the markets. The loads were carried in sacks slung either side of pack horses known as "Jaggers", often sturdy German ponies. The same name came to be applied to the men who drove the caravans of twelve to twenty ponies along the lanes.
This Jagger Lane linked up to markets at Richmond and Darlington, thence to the quaysides at Worsall, Yarm and Stockton from where lead was shipped to London and the Continent. Coal for the mills would have been sent in return loads.
Enter the narrow south eastern edge of the woodland through a handgate and follow the path which leads out into a field where some large oak trees line the route.
The path develops into quite a deep trench so it is best to keep to the left side of it as it nears the footbridge which takes the path across Leadmill Gill Beck. Head into the hamlet of Hartforth after crossing Hartforth Beck with its weir downstream of the stone bridge. Immediately after the farm buildings on the right, turn and follow the track between the green and a stone wall. After passing through a metal gate, there is a well used stiled path which heads in a south easterly direction across several fields (some of which are cultivated) towards Gilling West. The church and roof tops of the village can be seen ahead in the distance.
Finally the path runs alongside some farm buildings and emerges into the High Street close to the three-arch Gilling Bridge, which was constructed in 1799.
GILLING WEST, LEADMILL LANE, WHASHTON, HARTFORTH AND RETURN.
Approx. 5 miles, allow 2-2.5 hours. Mainly field paths and tracks
Head South out of Gilling West on to the Richmond road. Approximately 300 yards after passing out of the village, leave the road through double gates by a public footpath sign and follow the track slightly uphill. Keep the sunken track to the left. At the apex of the hill there are views of the Hambleton Hills to the left. Continue following the track until reaching a gate giving access to the grounds of Aske Hall.
Do not pass through the gate but follow the waymarked path to the right, with Aske Hall outbuildings on the left. On reaching a dry stone wall, bear slightly right, as waymarked, across the field - straight ahead will be Gillingwood Hall. There are good views to the right towards Gilling West and its surrounding area. Pass through a bridlegate; cross two arable fields and the path emerges into Old Hall Lane (through a white gate) by a sharp corner. Follow the lane as it heads towards Gillingwood Hall, set on a hillside with views across the valley to the A66 on the opposite rise; Hartforth Hall can be seen to the north. Pass through the farmyard, following the waymarks on the buildings.
The manor and advowsen of Gilling were bought by Humphrey Wharton in 1609 and Gillingwood Hall was built a mile above the village as the family home. Unfortunately the whole house was destroyed by fire on St. Stephen's Day 1750. Furniture, deeds and most of the family records were lost; therefore no good picture of the old hall survived.
The present house was built on the same site and is now rented as a farm, although Wharton heirs still own the Gilling estates, held by a family trust.
There are fragments.of the old hall remaining around the area and some of these can be clearly seen when passing close to the farm. The original gateposts are preserved in the approach from the High Street to St. Agathas in Gilling West village.
Leaving the farm behind pass through a gate and the route now runs alongside a stone wall with a small woodland (The Ashes) on the other side. Continue through two more fields and then as the wall turns sharply to the right, join the track (Jagger Lane) as it comes down the hillside out of Gilling Wood. Turn right along the track, passing close to the disused Crabtree Quarry and lime kiln to the right side, almost hidden by trees.
Nearly opposite the point where the stone wall finishes, a well defined track known as Leadmill Lane turns off to the left. Follow this tree-lined track; as the route starts to enter the woods there are many oak trees. Drop down towards Smelt Mill Beck as it runs along the valley bottom, passing the .remains of an old lead mill. Cross the beck over stepping stones, pass through a gate and head up the bank. The path veers to the right, climbs steeply and then skirts the edge of Hartforth Wood. This leads through a gate into another field - cross it to join the narrow lane which leads steadily uphill towards Whashton.
Walk through the village, very pretty with its neat grassy banks, attractive cottages, and a green to one side where quoits are played. It can be clearly seen why Whashton has merited several "Best Kept Village" awards, proudly displayed in the form of wooden benches with plaques attached. Our route turns off part way through the village but if the timing is right then maybe a stop at the "Hack and Spade" might make a welcome break and perhaps also a stroll to the top end of the village, from where there are good views to the west; the church in the next village of Kirby Hill can be clearly seen from here.
Back on the route, turn to the right next to Spring Cottage; this leads over a stile into a field. Here a stiled footpath heads across the fields joining the verge of Rachel Lane through a gap in the stone wall, before immediately entering the adjacent field to cross in a north easterly direction to meet Comfort Lane just West of Whashton Bridge. Turn onto the southern bank of Hartforth Beck and follow around until the footpath crosses a planked bridge near Hartforth Saw Mill. Skirt around the garden, then follow the track for a short distance to rejoin the beckside. Soon the path crosses a footbridge then cuts through a field to meet the lane at the edge of Hartforth . There are splendid views across the trees to the imposing Hall.
Sitting amidst rich agricultural land, Hartforth Hall is a Grade II listed building of fine architecture - it now serves as a hotel. The house was built about 1740, with some later additions in the 19th century. The old archway which stands across the drive, and the remains of its surrounding wall are fragments of a medieval chapel.
Head into the hamlet of Hartforth after crossing Hartforth Beck with its weir downstream of the stone bridge. Immediately after the farm buildings on the right, turn and follow the track between the green and a stone wall. After passing through a metal gate, there is a well used stiled path which heads in a south easterly direction across several fields (some of which are cultivated) towards Gilling West. The church and roof tops of the village can be seen ahead in the distance.