Byland Abbey

Route: Byland Abbey and Cockerdale

Area: North Yorkshire

Date of walk: 1st June 2018

Walkers: Andrew and Gilly

Distance: 6.7 miles

Ascent: 800 feet

Weather: Weak sunshine, warm and hazy

Byland Abbey was once of the greatest monasteries in England, and was the most ambitious Cistercian abbey built in England during the 12th century. It was designed to accommodate about 100 monks and 200 lay brothers. Its early gothic layout inspired the design of church buildings throughout the North. It’s a wonderful place and well worth a visit in its own right

We started today’s walk from the small car park near the abbey and, after spending some time wandering around its atmospheric ruins, we walked along the road to Wass for 200 yards or so before turning off to follow a drive, and then a path through the fields, to the edge of Abbey Bank Wood. There followed a delightful section through the woodland until we finally emerged onto open fields leading to Cam Farm. This was the highest point of the walk at around 800 feet, and as we walked towards the farm we had good sightings of curlew, oystercatcher and lapwing. We also had an unusual sighting of a young fallow deer, grazing with a herd of sheep who seemed to have accepted it as one of their own

Cam Farm marks the start of the return journey, and after enjoying some lovely views over the valley we descended gently through Great Cockerdale Wood towards Oldstead. The remainder of the walk was through unspoilt countryside (save for the environs of Oldstead Grange, which are an unsightly rubbish dump). This minor blemish excepted, it was a perfect walk in unspoilt countryside and in the space of 3 hours or so we’d only passed by 2 other walkers

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