Walk: Hawnby, Dale Town Common and Hawnby Hill

Hawnby, Gower Dale, Dale Town Common, Arden Hall and Hawnby Hill.

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The Route

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Walk Description

Hawnby lies hidden amongst the hills of upper Ryedale, a cluster of red pantile roofs built at the top and also the foot of a steep hill. This walk heads up Sunny Bank, high above Gower Dale, to reach Dale Town Common. There are fine views from Sunny Bank across the deep wooded side-valleys of Rye Dale with the heather moorland of the central moors stretching away into the distance. The distinctive hills that shelter Hawnby (including Hawnby Hill) form part of the Tabular Hills, an extensive range of predominantly limestone hills dissected by deep valleys that run along the southern boundary of the North York Moors. Sunny bank boasts a number of Bronze Age burial mounds as well as a defensive ditch known as Cross Dyke that runs alongside the wall just beyond High Buildings.

To the north of Dale Town Common, our route heads down into the deep wooded valley of Thorodale, where you will find Arden Hall. This beautifully proportioned three-storey building dates from the 17th Century, although it stands on the site of a 12th Century Benedictine nunnery. It was never a prosperous nunnery with limited lands farmed directly from Arden, unlike neighbouring Rievaulx Abbey whose extensive lands were controlled through a system of granges. After the Dissolution of the Monasteries the nunnery’s lands came into the ownership of the Tancred family until 1897 when it was bought by the 6th Earl of Mexborough. 

Beyond Arden Hall, our route heads down to the River Rye, which is set in a beautiful valley cloaked in primeval oak woodland. These oak woods once covered much of the North York Moors before people began to clear the forests for agriculture. Fortunately the steep slopes have prevented total clearance and these trees now stand as some of the last surviving examples of ancient woodland in the North York Moors.

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