This walk through countryside on the south-east side of Harrogate is centred on the lovely Crimple Valley, which follows the course of Crimple Beck (alternatively known as the River Crimple).
There are two railway viaducts encountered, including the 31-arch Crimple Viaduct carrying the Leeds-Harrogate line, and a stretch of the old Leeds-Thirsk railway trackbed is used for part of the route. Part of the walk follows the walls of Rudding Park, a Grade I listed house now run as a banqueting and conference centre. The grand south gatehouse is encountered in the pretty village of Follifoot. Red kites are a regular sight over farmland, treecreepers and great spotted woodpeckers in woods.
1. Start from Fulwith Mill Lane, off the A61 Leeds Road, Harrogate. Walk eastwards and swing left on a hard surface path, part of the Harrogate Ringway. At a signpost the path swings right and crosses the Leeds-Harrogate railway line.
2. Emerging on a road, go left then right. When the hard surface path goes left, continue ahead to the side of a gate. Follow this path - muddy after rain - through woodland to a junction. Go left at a waymark arrow and cross a footbridge. Pass through a field aiming for the far end of the disused Crimple Low Viaduct, pass beneath the last arch and follow the path to the right of a holly tree and continue on this path to enter a field.
3. Follow the obvious course of the path, eventually forking right to a stile. Walk through trees to join Crimple Lane. Beyond the Travellers Rest pub, at a junction turn right to walk with care down a minor road. Cross Crimple Beck and continue uphill. Before a bend go left, not on the bridleway but following a road round to the right, then take a stile on the left to follow a path round the edge of Rudding Park.
4. Cross the busy A658 road with great care, climb steps on the other side and continue ahead to pass through St. Joseph’s and St. James churchyard. Turn right and walk into Follifoot. At the south gatehouse of Rudding Park turn left, walk down Main Street and immediately past the Harewood Arms take a signposted narrow path which leads round the back of the village and out into fields.
5. As the path leads down to the disused Harrogate-Spofforth railway line take a gate on the right. Descend to the old trackbed and follow the path back to the A658, swinging right to pass beneath the road. Turn left on Follifoot Road, and beyond Follifoot Ridge take a bridleway on the right leading through trees.
6. At the bottom of the wood go through a gate and swing right to cross the railway line. Continue downhill to cross Crimple Beck. Walk ahead to a hedge and turn left. Cross the field to a gate beside a large tree, bear right across a field to a gap. Go through the handgate and follow the path out to the A61. Cross with great care and turn right to return to the starting point.
Difficulty rating: 2 stars
Time: 3 hours
Distance: 7 miles
Map: OS Explorer Sheet 289 (1:25000) Leeds, or OS Landranger Sheet 104 (1:50000) Leeds & Bradford
Parking: Informal street parking, off A61, Harrogate. Walk starting point grid ref: SE312529.
Public transport: Harrogate is served by trains from Leeds, Knaresborough and York. The starting point is on bus routes from Leeds, Ripon, Keighley, Ilkley & Otley. For times visit www.wymetro.com or call 0113 245 7676.
Refreshments: Travellers Rest, Crimple Lane, and Harewood Arms, Follifoot.
Toilets: Harrogate and for refreshment customers.