New walking trail in North York Moors links historic churches in quaint villages
A new walking trail has been mapped out in a beautiful area of the North York Moors which links five churches in historical villages.
The Parish of Upper Ryedale has designed the route to connect St John’s at Bilsdale, All Saints in Hawnby, All Saints in Old Byland, St Mary’s in Scawton and St Michael’s at Cold Kirby, and held a ‘Ride and Stride’ event to launch the trail.
The Ride and Stride was held earlier this month, with sponsorship raised to pay for maintenance of the church, with church members involved in planning and organising refreshments, but the hope is to make the trail a permanent feature.
Upper Ryedale parish deacon Helen Rawlings said: “Ride and Stride events are a large source of income for many old churches around the country. Within the Upper Ryedale Parish, we have five breathtaking churches. Because of the historic nature of the buildings, essential maintenance work costs a lot of money.
“Many of our church members have worked extremely hard to plan this walk, including arranging refreshment breaks, but at the same time found the experience very enjoyable. Some participants are raising money through sponsorships. The support pledged by both the participants in Ride and Stride and their sponsors is hugely appreciated.”
North Yorkshire councillor George Jabbour tested the route and described it as a ‘magnificent’ way to see the churches.
He said: “I highly recommend it. By taking part in this new event in Upper Ryedale, people who care about our historic churches can make a positive impact.”
The parish intends to erect signposts later in the autumn once the best route has been established. It is also available online via Ordnance Survey in two parts – one and two.
Upper Ryedale has historic links to nearby Rievaulx Abbey. The church at Old Byland was already standing in 1134 when St Aelred arrived in Rievaulx, but all the buildings have colourful pasts.
All Saints at Hawnby was ransacked by Scottish raiders before being rebuilt in the 14th century. During World War One, the village men were encouraged to join up by the vicar, whose own three sons were among those killed.
St Michael’s at Cold Kirby is one of the newest of the five, having been built in 1841. It stands close to an old drovers’ road that William the Conqueror’s army used before it became a main route for Scottish cattle traders driving their stock to market in Malton. The area was also home to an 18th-century racecourse called ‘the Newmarket of the north’.
St John’s in Bilsdale, built in the 1890s by the Earl of Feversham, serves a dale that was so remote that it didn’t even get its first road until the 1930s. The church never served a large population and was mooted for closure as far back as the 1970s before it was merged with others.
All Saints at Old Byland has Saxon and Norman features, though its exact age has not been established. The village was part of the Newburgh Priory estate until the Wombwell family sold the whole place off in 1922 – farms, a pub, a school and the blacksmith’s forge were all disposed of.
St Mary’s at Scawton was built in the 12th century by the Cistercian monks 30 years before Byland Abbey.