Of several fine circular routes emanating from the village of Thorner, this one could be the best. The terrain is rolling fields, quiet woodland and peaceful lanes. The highlight is undoubtedly the path through Kidhirst Wood, where there is the added charm of what is known locally as the Fishpond but is big enough to be called a lake. Its origin like in the damming of Scarcroft Beck to provide water for grinding corn at Scarcroft Mill (built 1810), the ruins of which can still be found among the trees. The walk ends by joining the Leeds Country Way at Grade II listed Oaklands Manor and following it back into Thorner. Listen for chiffchaffs; look out for red kites and orange-tip butterflies.
1. From Thorner Main Street’s junction with Carr Lane and Stead Lane walk with the Mexborough Arms on the right and further on The Fox on the left. On a bend at the end of Main Street keep straight ahead to Westfield Lane, passing Mill Beck. Continue along the lane to find houses on the left.
2. Pass through a hedge gap and walk along the field edge. When the hedge bends right continue ahead following the right of way across a large field. Cross a stile on the other side and follow a path to another stile. Go left then quickly right to continue on a fenced-off footpath. Go through the hedge gap ahead and turn right to walk up to Carr Lane.
3. Turn left on Carr Lane and walk with care along the road to turn right on the access road to Eltofts House. Follow the road right at a bend, pass Eltofts Farm and Eltofts House. Look for a public footpath on the left and follow its worn course across a field into Kidhirst Wood. Keep with the obvious path through the trees, passing the Fish Pond on the left, to emerge at Oaklands Manor.
4. Pass the buildings and at the end find a signpost on the right for Leeds Country Way. Follow the clear route, eventually enclosed by walls, and turn left over a stile. Turn immediately right and cross a field, bearing left to exit the field beneath power lines and join a fenced path. Further on, follow a farm track into Thorner. Turn left on a village street and follow it round to the right to return to the starting point next to the Mexborough Arms.
Difficulty rating: 1 star.
Distance: 3 1/2 miles
Time: 1 1/2 hours.
Map: OS Explorer 289 (1:25000) Leeds.
Parking: Responsible street parking in Thorner village.
Public transport: Thorner is on the 770 Leeds-Harrogate route operated by Harrogate Bus Company. Tel 01423 566061.
Toilets: For refreshments customers.