Here’s a grand walk for summer days, exploring the village of Coneysthorpe, a small picturesque village about 5 miles west of Malton, at the north entrance to Castle Howard park, along with exploration of Castle Howard’s footpaths and bridleways.
The mansion of Castle Howard is an early 18th century building designed by Sir John Vanbrugh for Charles Howard. It contains collections of pictures and statues, and its 1,000-acre park has an Ionic Temple and lakes, and is thickly wooded. It demands another day to discover its history.
Access from Malton is by turning off at the Talbot Hotel as signed to Castle Howard 6 miles. Pass through Easthorpe and high walling to your left guides you to Coneysthorpe. At crossroads turn left and a car park is to the right.
Start. From the car park, return to the crossroads and go right on the Malton Road. Just ahead is a green ‘island’. Turn left here to savour the delights of a stone-built hamlet - Coneysthorpe.
During the 19th century, Coneysthorpe passed into the Castle Howard estate. Many cottages and farms were built around the spacious green to accommodate estate workers and domestic staff. Wander up to the church. Keeping it to your right, return down the far side of the hamlet. Seek Yew Tree House, and just beyond is a cottage bearing a plaque above the door. “Richard Spruce, the distinguished botanist and explorer, lived here from 1876-1893. He was born in 1817 and died 1893.”
Return to the Malton Road, and turn left by the war memorial. Pretty cottages feature as you approach a gateway between two large, stone-built gate posts. Take the adjacent public footpath through a handgate to the right as signed - Bog Hall. You’re now on a good broad track. The Great Lake is further ahead screened by trees. Follow the edge of woodland to your right, with fine mature trees.
Reaching an ‘island’, fork left to follow the Centenary Way. Magnificent oak, sweet chestnut and silver birch feature here. A finger post confirms your route, as indicated Centenary Way.
Beyond lie fields either side. As you leave the wood, walk through meadow-land and cross over Mill Hill’s Beck by a bridge.
Gradually ascend to reach Bog Hall Farm. Bear right, left and right, so the farm is behind you. Then, after re-crossing Mill Hill’s Beck you have views of the Temple of the Four Winds, particularly from the next railed bridge. Listen for songbirds - yellowhammer, warbler and chiff chaff.
Next features a grove of willow trees on moist land to the left. Having followed this track for about a mile, Low Gaterley silo and barns are approached. Here, go right along the Centenary Way, keeping barns to the left. The track winds through cool woodland, and veers right onto the estate road towards Gaterley Cottages. Larch, pine and silver birch trees are to your right. Where woodland ends, open fields permit excellent views of the Mausoleum amidst trees, and the Pyramid ahead.
On Kirk Hill to the north-east, the Mausoleum commands a dominant site. The building of this began in 1731 to a design by Nicholas Hawksmoor.
To the north lies the Temple of the Four Winds, one of Vanbrugh’s masterpieces. It’s simply a summer house built in grand style!
Castle Howard itself is to the north-west, and the Pyramid on St Anne’s Hill to the west. [An optional public footpath off right leads to a fine Italianate Bridge built in the 1940s. It’s an architectural masterpiece! After viewing, please retrace steps back to the Pyramid.]
Eventually reaching the Gatehouse, turn right to follow a broad, grassed verge along a drive of splendid lime trees. We found a shady footpath beyond the limes and away from traffic. It’s all downhill to the Obelisk. Cross the road bridge and you’re now at the west end of the Great Lake, where trees are mirrored in the water. Swans, ducks and geese etc may be recorded. Look out for dragonflies and damsel flies along the way, as you return to the car park.
Distance: 6 miles (excluding the deviation to the Italianate Bridge).
Allow: 2.5-3 hours of leisurely walking.
Terrain: Good throughout.
Refreshment: None on the rote, so take a picnic.
Map: OS Explorer Howardian Hills and Malton. Yorkshire Wolds North 300. Scale 2.5 inches to 1 mile.
NB There are no seats once you leave Coneysthorpe. Take a waterproof to sit on.