Walks: Coneysthorpe - Centenary Way - Castle Howard

This delightful walk of about six miles, departs from the small, picturesque village of Coneysthorpe, about five miles east of Malton, at the north entrance to Castle Howard park. It includes Castle Howard, noted for its magnificent location, and scenery of the Howardian Hills. The mansion of Castle Howard is well known to many '“ a superb early 18th century building designed by Sir John Vanbrugh. It contains interesting collections of furniture, porcelain, sculpture and paintings. Its 1,000-acre park has an ionic temple and statues, lakes and fountains, and is thickly wooded.
Temple of the Four Winds at Castle Howard.Temple of the Four Winds at Castle Howard.
Temple of the Four Winds at Castle Howard.

Access from Malton is by the prominent Talbot Hotel. Here, turn right as signed to Castle Howard 6 miles. Passing through Easthorpe, high walling to your left leads to Coneysthorpe. At the crossroads turn left, and you’ll find a car park on the right.

Start from the car park, return to the crossroads and turn right. Keep on the Malton Road, and just ahead is a green ‘island’. Here, deviate left to savour the delights of the stone-built hamlet of Coneysthorpe.

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During the 19th century, Coneysthorpe passed into the Castle Howard estate. Many cottages and farms were built around the spacious village green to accommodate estate workers and domestic staff.

Wander up to the church, and 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. Approach a white gateway between two large, stone-built gate posts. Take the adjacent public footpath through a handgate to your right, heading to Bog Hall. You’re now on a good broad track, with the Great Lake further ahead screened by trees.

Follow the edge of mature woodland on your right. Reaching a triangular island, fork left along the Centenary Way.

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There’s no public access to the lake at this south-east corner. Magnificent oak, sweet chestnut and silver birch feature here.

A finger-post on the right confirms your route along the track indicated, ‘Centenary Way’. [Ignore a public footpath deviating right]. Beyond are 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 barns at Bog Hall Farm. Bear right, left, and right so the barns are behind you.

A hedge is to your left, and fields off right, with views of the Temple of the Four Winds after re-crossing the Mill Hill’s Beck.

Continue between field and woodland, and as you cross the beck, you have a fine view of the temple from the fence and next bridge.

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A grove of willow trees feature beyond, on moist land to the left. Their silvery-white leaves create a ‘misty’ atmosphere.

Having followed this track for about a mile, your route becomes more demarcated as 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 feature 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.

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To the north lies the Temple of the Four Winds, which is described as one of the greatest small buildings in England. One of Vanbrugh’s masterpieces, it is 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. [You may have noticed an optional public footpath off right, which leads to a fine Italianate Bridge built in the 1940s. It’s an architectural masterpiece. If you view it, please retrace steps back to the Pyramid.]

Eventually reaching the Gatehouse, turn right to follow a broad, grassed verge along a drive of lime trees. Or take the shady footpath beyond the limes and away from traffic. It’s all downhill to the Obelisk and well beyond. Cross the road bridge, and you’re now at the north-west end of the Great Lake. Trees are mirrored in the water, and swans, ducks and geese are found. Return to the car park with many memories.

Distance: 6 miles of arrowed route. Allow 2.5-3 hours of average walking time.

Refreshment: None on the route. A picnic is advised, but there are no seats once you leave Coneysthorpe, so do take a waterproof to sit on.