BETWEEN Harrogate and Knaresborough is a lovely area of woodland that clings to the banks of the River Nidd. This walk starts at the popular Conyngham Hall and heads towards Old Bilton before returning via the woods.

Start at the parking at Conyngham Hall just beside the banks of the River Nidd before it enters Knaresborough. Walk through the car park and along the banks of the river as it bends sharply to our right. Arrive at the remains of an old farmery before crossing a wooden bridge over the river on your left.

Turn immediately left over the river following the north bank of the river for 400m as it follows the outside bend of the river. A path to your right then leads to the start of Bilton Lane. Turn right on to the lane and continue on the lane/part road for one and a half miles to the village of Old Bilton. The route is almost dead straight and passes some interesting buildings including Bilton Hall and a large caravan site.

On entering Old Bilton the track become a quiet dead road bounded by some lovely house. Just past the Gardeners Arms and its large beer garden take the signposted lane on your right. The track climbs north through trees out of the village before entering farmland with outstanding views towards the Dales on your left.

After half a mile the path starts to drop, increasingly steeply in to woodland. Almost immediately there is a junction of paths. Take the narrower path ahead to the right that drops steeply through the trees to the River Nidd. On the far shore is Scotton Flax Mill, built in 1798 to utilize the power of the river.

On meeting the river turn right and soon join another track coming from above. The river is now entering Nidd Gorge. The gorge was created in the soft sandstone during the last ice age 15,000 years ago. The woodlands themselves date back to 1600 with the broadleaves a heaven for a variety of wildlife, butterflies and wild flowers. The sycamores add much to the south bank, different in nature to the other, northern bank where conifers and mixed broadleaves dominate. Follow the path along the winding south bank for one and a half miles to a footbridge. Cross the bridge to the northern bank.

On crossing the bridge turn right and take the choice of paths. The forest track is slightly further away from the river whilst the path is closer. Take your pick - I tend to mix them both, a bit of quicker walking on the forest track with the slower, but more interesting path on the bank.

After a further mile-and-a-half and having passes various warning signs concerning the private woodland to your left, the path meets a fence and turns sharply uphill. After a short steep climb the path emerges amongst an estate of large, recently built ‘super’ houses. Turn right at the road and follow it round the corner until it meets the busy B6165. Turn right again and follow the narrow pavement for half a mile towards the centre of Knaresborough then at roads end turn right again and drop back down to the car park.

* Fact Box:

Distance: Roughly seven miles (a short cut of four miles is indicated on the map)

Height to Climb: 160m (500 feet)

Start: SE 345572. Large car park at Conyngham Hall.

Difficulty: Medium/Hard. The first section of the walk is on a good track followed by a riverside path, muddy in places.

Refreshments: There is a café at the car park and plenty of other options in nearby Knaresborough.

Be Prepared: The route description and sketch map only provide a guide to the walk. You must take out and be able to read a map (O/S Explorer 297) and in cloudy/misty conditions a compass. You must also wear the correct clothing and footwear for the outdoors. Whilst every effort is made to provide accurate information, walkers head out at their own risk.

* Jonathan Smith runs Where2walk, a walking company in the Yorkshire Dales. He has published two books on walks in the Dales, The Yorkshire 3 Peaks and The Dales 30 mountains.

Book a Navigation Training day (Beginners or Intermediates). Jonathan's popular website, Where2walk, also run Navigation weekends in the Dales and the ‘3 Peaks in 3 Days’ guided walks, as well as hundreds of other walks across Yorkshire and beyond, from easy strolls to harder climbs.