Ampleforth Abbey and College Estate Walk
Summary: This walk will take you through the varied and beautiful landscape of the Ampleforth Abbey Estate which covers over 2000 acres. The Estate is carefully managed and encompasses grassland, farmland and woodland and is located in an AONB (Area of Outstanding natural beauty). Parts of it have been designated SINC’s (Sites of Importance for nature Conservation). This walk will take you through the grounds of the College along public and permissive footpaths. We recommend you wear sturdy walking boots as the ground is uneven in places.
Start: Alban Roe House
Start (OS ref): SE595788
Map (1:25,000): 300 - Howardian Hills and Malton
Parking: Car parking area P1 (located by Alban Roe House) Map
Distance: 6 miles (10 km)
Time: 2 hours
Hazards: The uneven and narrow footpath along the fishponds
Refreshments: The Ampleforth Tearoom in Central Building.
Opening times: Monday- Saturday 10.00am - 5.30pm, Sunday 12.30pm - 5.30pm
From Alban Roe House start the walk by bearing left and going past the West Wing of the Monastery. Following the road bear right along the tarmac road down into the valley. When you look back, here is a great vantage point to photograph the Abbey. Follow this road, which is marked as a footpath on the map, past the gate (this has been installed to stop it being used as a public road, however estate vehicles do use this road so do take care), past the cricket pavilion and the playing fields bearing left. You will then leave the road following the official footpath, bear right and go along the bottom of Agars bank until you come to Holbeck. Here turn right, following the course of the stream and walk along the recently created field margin. One of the many roles field margins have is to promote biodiversity and it creates a permissive footpath. ( For an energetic diversion you could go up Agars Banks and, coming back down turn tight when you get to Holbeck.)
When you reach the road turn left. After about 200 yards look to your right and you will see the course of the disused railway line between Coxwold and Helsmley which closed to passengers in 1953. Keep going along the road until you come to a T junction. Here turn right, first going past Park House cottages and then Park House. All these properties belong to the Ampleforth Abbey estate and are rented out to private tenants.
From Park House the road is marked once again as a footpath , follow it keeping the woodland on your left. You will come to a sign ‘Ampleforth Estate Wildlife Sanctuary’ You can go straight on to reach the lower fishpond or you can follow the road round until you see the footpath sign. Whichever way you choose, the walk now follows the footpath uphill into an area known as the Wilderness along the Lower Fishpond, the largest of the three. Take care as the ground is uneven and may be muddy after rain. Climb up towards the 2 higher, smaller fishponds, all still stocked with pike (you do need a fishing permit so don’t be tempted!) Park Wood, the Wilderness and the fish ponds are all part of a landscape designed around Gilling Castle in the 18th century. Gilling Castle, now called St Martin’s Ampleforth is the prep school for Ampleforth College. This area is fascinating and crisscrossed with footpaths and forestry tracks. You could for example make a diversion to see the Avenue, the original main approach to Gilling Castle which used to be lined with beech trees. Some of these beech trees have remained.
Go up up past the second pond and then turn right across the bridge between the ponds. Once across turn right following the forestry track back down the hill until you reach the first pond. Turn right and at the signpost turn left, once again crossing the path of the disused railway. Here is another signpost. Do not enter the woods but bear right instead, following the permissive footpath which is the field margin along Holbeck. (Please note this wooded area is not marked on any OS map). You will see a telegraph pole in the distance beyond the next field gate. Follow this until you reach the valley road (you have been here before) and then follow the road back up the hill until you reach Alban Roe House.