THE peaceful countryside near Nunnington, between Helmsley in the North York Moors, and the Hambleton Hills, is perfect for a spring walk.

The seven-mile walk takes in three attractive villages, the River Rye and an area of higher ground with good views.

Only five miles south of Helmsley there is a National Trust maintained country house in the small village of Nunnington. Nunnington Hall has a perfect riverside setting, is not large but inside has some pretty Georgian period rooms.

Park in the car park, take the footbridge to the hall and at the main entrance enter Low Road heading west through some attractive Yorkshire stone buildings. Where the road bends sharply left take the stile directly ahead and join a riverside path. A sign points to High Moor Lane, one mile distant. The River Rye itself starts high on the moors to the north before joining the River Derwent further east.

After half a mile the path leaves the river, bends left and passes a copse of trees before heading south along High Moor Lane. The track climbs towards a quiet road, cross the road and a few metres on your left the path carries on through farmland uphill towards a broad ridge.

Continue over the high point and follow the track as it descends, initially leisurely but as it starts to bend, more steeply. The final 100ft drop is much steeper and arrives at a busier road. This is Stonegrave. Cross the road and enter the hamlet, no more than 100 residents reside here. It will not take long to explore but search out Stonegrave Minster, a fine church with origins in the 8th century.

Re-cross the road and 100 metres to the east of the outbound path a bridlepath heads uphill, where the path forks keep left, contouring up the slope. It is a lovely wide path flanked by attractive woodland; Spring brings out its best side, particularly when the trees gain their foliage.

On arrival at the high point of Caulkleys Bank, the views open out beautifully. To the north the moors are shown to good effect while elsewhere the Vale of York and the Howardian Hills add interest to many miles of countryside. The walking along the lane the high point of the bank (there is a trig point and bench at 98m) does not seem to last long enough and soon starts to drop down towards the third hamlet of the day, West Ness. Enter West Ness and yet again it is worth having a look at the beautifully presented buildings (East Ness is not far away either).

Don’t cross the river but keep to the south bank and join the riverside path heading back to Nunnington. The path is well signposted, in fact I generally find the paths better signposted on this side of Yorkshire as opposed to the Dales end. Pass the Old Mill and its nearby weir before leaving the river and arriving back at Nunnington. There are some good views of the hall before arriving at the village centre.

Fact Box

Distance: Roughly 7 miles

Height climbed: 140m (460 feet)

Start: SE 669796. Park in the NT car park.

Difficulty: Medium. The tracks are excellent and well signposted although the paths by the river can be muddy at this time of the year.

Refreshments: Nunnington Hall has a café but there is no pub as marked on the O/S maps.

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 300) and in cloudy/misty conditions a compass (essential on this walk). 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. Please observe the Countryside Code and park sensibly.

Jonathan runs Where2walk, a walking company based in the Yorkshire Dales:

• He has published 3 books on walks in the Dales; ‘The Yorkshire 3 Peaks’, ‘The Dales 30’ mountains and the New ‘Walks without Stiles’ book.

• All (and more) are available direct from the Where2walk website.

• Book a Navigation Training day in Long Preston (Two Levels: Beginners or ‘Mountain Skills’) First Available Date is April 1. also features 100s of walks across Yorkshire and beyond, from easy strolls to harder climbs.