A most pleasant walk may be enjoyed in all seasons on the outskirts of East and West Ayton. You may well need a full day to explore everything suggested, but the choices are yours!
Take the A170 to Betton Farm Visitor Centre from where the entire walk starts, or for a shorter walk, depart from East Ayton’s church at the road junction. A handsome stone bridge carries the road from Scarborough to Pickering across the River Derwent, separating the villages of East and West Ayton. East Ayton has a quaint, weather-worn little church which must be visited, and West Ayton has the ruins of a castle, said to have been built in the 14th century to defend the richly-wooded Forge Valley, through which the Derwent has come.
Start from Betton Farm and follow the road down to its junction with roads near shops and St John’s Church, in East Ayton.
From the church, cross the road and turn left along Carr Lane, to wind via bungalows past Glaves Close. Don’t miss the train off to your right, with engine and carriages skilfully clipped in the hedging!
Turn left off Carr Lane into Long Lane, with fields bounded by hedgerows and Riverside Park admirably sited for camping and caravans to the right.
Just beyond, at the end of the field, is a metal gate. Alongside you’ll find a public footpath, before the farm. Go through the way-marked gate to a wooden bridge, and cross the River Derwent at this point. The fenced footpath guides you pleasantly between fields, veering left and soon following a broad, grassed track which emerges on Garth End Road.
Turn right along Garth End Road to pass a farm, and lovely properties either side, towards the main road.
Cross the A170 with care to access Cockrah Road opposite. Ascend this pretty, hedged lane to the road junction. Here, turn right down Yedmandale Road between stone walling and hedge.
Castle Rise goes off left, and you’ll observe Yedmandale Terrace to your right, before seeking Mill Lane which leads off left. The Mill is most photogenic in the left corner. Take a camera!
Veering right by the waterside, take a seat, feed the ducks and admire from early spring a vast, breath-taking carpet of crocuses!
Meeting the A170 turn left over the stone bridge into East Ayton, to take the first turning left up Castlegate towards Forge Valley, Castlegate runs more or less parallel with the River Derwent and provides stunning views from cottages across the valley to the ruins of Ayton Castle. [Indeed, the whole walk from Ayton to Hackness is a sheer delight, when time permits.]
The crumbling remains of the late 14th century castle’s keep are viewed with binoculars. Here lived Lord Evers in 1500, and Sir Ralph Evers, who had a strong garrison here in the days of the Pilgrimage of Grace. Now it sits in lonely vigil amidst grassland. Cattle seek shade and shelter near the basement of the tower.
Leaving Castlegate to follow the Derwent, you should take the first turning right along Castle Lane which provides a short link into Moor Lane. Here, turn immediately right down Moor Lane to pass Ayton’s Primary School and just beyond is the church gate. Enter. Follow the path, guarded by columns of yew trees through the churchyard to the charming little church’s entrance. Much of the church is 13th century, including the slender tower.
Notice at each side of the tiny shattering porch of 1634, an Irish yew tree. Look at the low Norman doorway which you’ll see if you look carefully is enriched with beak heads! It has a door with the old bar fastening.
The interior is considered rather odd, with white walls sloping, the chancel arch tilting, and the tower (half in and half out of the church) opening to the nave with a low and sharply-pointed arch. Its capitals are only 4ft from the floor. Under the arch is the large Norman font, shaped like a cheese and carved with arcading.
Leaving the church by the exit into Main Street, you have shops, cafes and inns to visit, before your final trek up Racecourse Road to return to Betton Farm.
Here, should any members of your party prefer not to walk far, they can spend several happy hours shopping in the farm shop and bakery, or taking refreshment in the splendid restaurant or tearooms. It’s a unique venue with fantastic views to the Yorkshire Wolds.
There’s a free play park for children, Crafty Little Things, where one can paint a piece of pottery, and woodcraft with a viewing area and courses on wood-turning. The highlight for ourselves is the Indoor Honey Bee Exhibition, which is open all year round from 10am-4pm with free parking. It’s educational and fun for all the family. Don’t worry, it’s safe and there’s free honey tasting too. Children will love to dress up as real bee-keepers, and take home a little gift from the enticing choice in the shop.
Distance. From Betton Farm and return approximately 4.5 miles. Shorter route from St John’s Church and return approximately 3 miles.
Refreshment. Betton Farm on Racecourse Road. Facilities in East and West Ayton include the Forge Valley Hotel; Denison Arms; Walker’s Fish and Chip Restaurant; the fish and chip shop in Main Street, and local shop.
Public transport. The service 128 Pickering bus.
Recommended. Binoculars and camera.
NB Honey Farm best visited at Easter – by request.
Rural Rambles Volume 15 is now available – 17 walks and maps for £2.50. Entire profits to charities. For a copy send a cheque for £2.50 payable to EM Robinson and enclose an A5 sized stamped addressed envelope (a 53p stamp will cover cost). Send to Mrs M Robinson, 14 Malvern Crescent, Scarborough YO12 5QW.