Village reveals its secrets

St Mary's Church, Ebberston
St Mary's Church, Ebberston

Written by Maureen Robinson

Near Ebberston is a walk that encompasses scenery combined with features of historic interest. Ebberston is an interesting village 10 miles out of Scarborough on the A170 road to Pickering.

A regular bus service runs between Scarborough and Helmsley, and if you have private transport, I suggest you park near The Grapes Inn, or along Main Street.

Start. This three mile walk commences opposite Main Street, ie north of the A170 up the Netherby Dale road.

Passing a large house on the right, walk up the hedged lane for only 100m or so. There’s walling to your right, and at the end of the wall cross this road and turn left up a rough track, forking left on to a stony track between high banks.

Shortly the path curves right, ascending to a circular stone monument. This is known as Alfred’s Tower and was erected in 1790 to mark a cave site in the hillside where King Alchfrid, a king of Northumbria, rested in AD 704 having been wounded in a nearby battle. The injured king was taken through to Little Driffield. He is said to have died and been buried there.

From the rear of the monument, turn left to rejoin your path alongside a stone wall. Keep to the main track beside silver birch scrubland, and later woodland to the right.

Leaving the woodland, go through a gate between the fields. At the end of the first field continue straight ahead. Follow left hedging, and at the far end of this field continue through a gate in dry stone walling. Beyond, your route becomes a cart track.

You will now see Scamridge Farm ahead on the left. Reaching the end of the next field, your route follows a farm track. Ignore a track off left to High Park Farm. Keep straight ahead and then continue on a rutted track until a metalled road is reached. Turn right in the midst of agricultural land, and ahead of you is Scamridge Slack, and earthwork. To the left are extensive boundary earthworks called Scamridge Dykes.

There are many early earthworks in the area to the north of Ebberston and Snainton. Scamridge Dykes occupy approximately three square miles of moorland. They possibly date from the Stone Age. Here, over a century ago, a communal thatched dwelling was found among the mounds and ditches, and 14 bodies dating from 1,000 years BC!

The road makes a right-angled bend southwards, and close by is Malton Cote to your left as you descend a sunken lane with steep banks. Where the access road to Malton Cote Farm turns off left, keep to the main single track road and beware of approaching vehicles.

Follow the stone wall to your left, and when hedging features to either side, keep an observant watch for a track turning off right.

Enter the Nature Reserve of Chafer Wood. This Yorkshire Wildlife Trust Reserve is known locally as ‘The Dale’. Please keep dogs on leads to avoid disturbing any wildlife. Walk quietly and you may sight deer in the area. The main path through the woods is well-defined. Follow a narrow grassy path between high, bracken-clad banks overhung with blackthorn and rowan. An enchanting, secluded path between lofty trees widens and ascends.

When paths divide, take the upper one to the left to access the road. Turn right and proceed downhill to keep close company with a stream (first to the right and then to the left), to your starting point.

Having completed your route, do explore Ebberston village. To the west you’ll find the parish church of Ebberston. It’s easily located at the foot of Kirk Dale, standing against a backcloth of trees only about half a mile west. Access is by using the footpath alongside the main A170 road. St Mary’s Church was restored between 1869 and 1881, but the foundations are from a very early age. Seek the remains of a small window of Saxon architecture and several Norman features.

Close to St Mary’s you’ll observe Ebberston Hall. It was designed by a Scottish architect, Colin Campbell and built in 1718 for Scarborough MP and Warden of the Mint William Thompson. Originally there were magnificent water gardens with a canal and cascades, but they no longer feature. The squire, George Osbaldeston was a former occupant. He was renowned for his gambling and sporting activities. He owned many horses. One named ‘Ebberston’ triumphed in the Derby in 1836. So much in debt did he become, that eventually he stopped visiting his home.

In more recent years the house was sold, and at one time was open to the public. We were delighted to visit this ‘tiny stately home’, and found it most interesting. I believe it is now a private residence.

Distance of red-arrowed route: 3 miles approximately.

Refreshment: The Grapes, Ebberston, or The Peacock, Snainton.