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The village of Crayke on its hill top seen from Snargate Hill
The village of Crayke on its hill top seen from Snargate Hill

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Route No. 810 - Thursday 09 July 2020
City of Troy turf maze, Bonnygate Lane,
Snargate Hill, Stearsby, Skewsby, Brow Wood
7km circuit - Howardian Hills AONB . . .

Route map from Ordnance Survey Open Space service.

Map: OS Explorer 300 Howardian Hills & Malton


The City of Troy , an ancient turf maze, on the roadside verge where High Lane and Bonnygate Lane meet
The City of Troy , an ancient turf maze, on the roadside verge where High Lane and Bonnygate Lane meet

The weather this morning was dull and overcast with drizzly showers expected. My friend, Jim, and I drove, in separate cars, to the City of Troy about 10km east of Easingwold where we both live. The 'City of Troy' is an old turf maze. There are a handful of these relics (add link) scattered around England and their origins seem to be little understood. We parked on the wide grass verge at map ref. SE 626 720, next to the low wooden fence around the little turf maze.

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Elaborate North Point carved on a rock by the turf maze
Elaborate North Point carved on a rock by the turf maze

Walking along Bonnygate Lane
Walking along Bonnygate Lane

Donkey by the roadside
Donkey by the roadside

We stepped onto the verge to be safe whilst they passed. We continued along this lane for almost 2km to its junction with Snargate Hill. At this junction we turned left to walk along Snargate Hill.

From our parking spots we set off along the road called Bonnygate Lane heading roughly north west. There was very little traffic along this road but there were a few lorries.

A last look at the turf maze before we set off
A last look at the turf maze before we set off

Stepping back onto the road after the lorry had passed
Stepping back onto the road after the lorry had passed

Bonnygate Lane nearing the turning to Snargate Hill
Bonnygate Lane nearing the turning to Snargate Hill

About to turn left from Bonnygate Lane to Snargate Hill
About to turn left from Bonnygate Lane to Snargate Hill

Topping the little rise at the start of Snargate Hill
Topping the little rise at the start of Snargate Hill

Dropping down the hill past Snargate Wood
Dropping down the hill past Snargate Wood

Enjoying the view from Snargate Hill
Enjoying the view from Snargate Hill

We came to a sharp left hand bend in the lane and in the edge of the field in the inside of the bend there was an old oak tree. It is one that Jim & I checked out for the 'Ancient Tree Hunt' some years ago and it has an entry on their database

Initially Snargate Hill climbed a little and then dropped down to a right hand bend at Snargate Wood. From this point the lane began to drop down the escarpment of the Howardian Hills with a view developing towards York to the south.


Bend in the road next to Snargate Wood

Veteran oak tree recorded on the Ancient tree Hunt
Veteran oak tree recorded on the Ancient tree Hunt

(Click here for tree's details on the Ancient tree Hunt)

Ponies & a goat grazing next to Snargate Hill
Ponies & a goat grazing next to Snargate Hill

Passing Snargate Farm
Passing Snargate Farm

Heading for Stearsby across along the field path
Heading for Stearsby across along the field path

Heading for Stearsby across along the field path
Heading for Stearsby across along the field path

Heading for Stearsby across along the field path
Heading for Stearsby across along the field path

Just before we reached the junction we turned left off Snargate Hill through a kissing gate to a public footpath across the fields. We followed the footpath for about 600m, across four fields, to the road into Stearsby village.

From this bend in the lane by the oak tree we continued down the lane for about 600m past Snargate Farm to the junction with the road from Brandsby.

Turning left off Snargate Hill onto the field path
Turning left off Snargate Hill onto the field path

Heading for Stearsby across along the field path
Heading for Stearsby across along the field path

Heading for Stearsby across along the field path
Heading for Stearsby across along the field path

Heading for Stearsby across along the field path
Heading for Stearsby across along the field path

Gate from the field path onto the road at Stearsby
Gate from the field path onto the road at Stearsby

Following the road into Stearsby
Following the road into Stearsby

Following the road eastwards out of Stearsby
Following the road eastwards out of Stearsby

We continued along the road to the edge of the village where the road became a farm track along the edge of the fields.

At the road we turned left and walked along the road into the village. After about 100m along the road we came to a 'T'-junction where we turned right.

Turning right at the road junction in Stearsby
Turning right at the road junction in Stearsby

The road ends here and becomes a farm track
The road ends here and becomes a farm track

Farm track heading east from Stearsby
Farm track heading east from Stearsby

Farm track with woods on our right and arable land on our left
Farm track with woods on our right and arable land on our left

We kept straight on by the wood where the farm track forks
We kept straight on by the wood where the farm track forks

There was mainly woodland on our right and arable land on our left. Up to this point all had been well, but from here for about 450m the navigation was a bit messy with some obstruction to the path.

From the end of the road there was a public footpath along the farm track. We walked along the footpath following the farm track for about 600m from the edge of Stearsby village.

Farm track with woods on our right and arable land on our left
Farm track with woods on our right and arable land on our left

Continuing along the grassy track next to the wood
Continuing along the grassy track next to the wood

Awkward navigation due to path obstruction:


At this corner of the field there is a farm track straight on but the OS Explorer map shows the public footpath turning
left and dropping down to cross a small watercourse. So we turned left to look for the path down to our right.

Overgrown path
This overgrown mass turned out to be
the public footpath down to a small watercourse.

Wonky footbridge
We pushed our way through the undergrowth
to this little footbridge over the watercourse.
The bridge deck flexed much more than felt safe

No visible path
There was no visible path from the footbridge
but we walked through the undergrowth . . .

Back on the farm track
. . . and after about 50m in the direction shown on the
OS Explorer map we came back onto the farm track
along the field edge. The map shows the path cutting
to the far side of the field but there was no path visible
so we continued on the farm track along the field edge

Turning left at the field corner
When we reached the corner of the field we turned left
following the edge of the field to intersect the route
of the public footpath again.

Turning right onto the route of the footpath
After a short search we found the route of the path
completely overgrown with hawthorn and brambles

Making a way through the brambles
Beginning to make our way along the overgrown path

Making a way through the brambles to the kissing gate
Continuing our progress along the path
to a kissing gate buried in the hedge

Kissing gate lost in the hedge
We passed through the kissing gate . . .

Pushing through the brambles into the next field
. . . and pushed our way through the brambles to
some scrubland in the next field

Old route of the path through the hedge
We followed the line of the path to this gap in the old
hedge. There was a small stream along the hedge line that
had passed through a short culvert under the path.
The culvert had collapsed into the stream and combined
with the steep slope on the far side of the stream it
was too awkward for me and my knees to cross.
So we moved a few metres downstream to find a
safe place to cross.

Route of the path to the top of the hill
Once we had crossed the tiny stream we climbed up the
grassy hillside aiming for a tall tree in the top right
hand corner of the field where we could see a group of
riding horses. As we approached the top of the field we could
see a kissing gate in the fence on the route of the public
footpath


From here there was a good path for the rest of the walk:

We turned right from the gate on the path around the field edge
We turned right from the gate on the path around the field edge

Following the road through Skewsby
Following the road through Skewsby

Walnuts ripening on the tree
Walnuts ripening on the tree

We continued around the corner of the field to the edge of Skewsby village. As we reached the houses of the village the farm track became a surfaced road which we followed through the village for about 400m to the 'T'-junction with the road coming up from Whenby.

We passed through the kissing gate at the top of the field near the right hand corner where there was a large tree that could be seen as we climbed up the slope from the bottom of the field. Through the kissing gate we turned right following the public footpath along a farm track around the edge of the fields.

Path along a farm track on the edge of Skewsby
Path along a farm track on the edge of Skewsby

Walnut tree by the roadside
Walnut tree by the roadside

Following the road from Skewsby
Following the road from Skewsby

About to turn left at the junction with the road from Whenby
About to turn left at the junction with the road from Whenby

Walking along the road from Whenby towards Brow Wood
Walking along the road from Whenby towards Brow Wood

the telephone box is now a community library
. . . the telephone box is now a community library

The village boundary as we left Skewsby
The village boundary as we left Skewsby

About 100m beyond the village boundary sign we came to a public footpath into Brow Wood off to the left of the road. We turned left here off the road to follow the footpath through the wood.

At this junction we turned left and walked along the road. We passed the red telephone box on our right and walk around the bend in the road out of Skewsby village.


Jim inspecting the roadside telephone box . . .

Young beef cattle by the roadside
Young beef cattle by the roadside

Walking up the hill towards Brow Wood
Walking up the hill towards Brow Wood

Turning left off the road onto the path through Brow Wood up to the turf maze
Turning left off the road onto the path through Brow Wood up to the turf maze

The path into Brow Wood
The path into Brow Wood

At the top of the climb up through Brow Wood
At the top of the climb up through Brow Wood

Path along the field edge next to Brow Wood
Path along the field edge next to Brow Wood

At the field edge we turned right to walk along the edge of the field next to the wood on our right. After about 50m we passed the corner of the wood and came to a strip of cultivated land between the wood and the road.

About 150m into the wood we kept to the right hand fork in the path climbing up the hillside. About 300m after entering the wood the path turn sharp left out of the wood to the edge of the adjoining field.

The path up through Brow Wood
The path up through Brow Wood

Path out of Brow Wood to the fields
Path out of Brow Wood to the fields

Well walked path through the crop to the road
Well walked path through the crop to the road

Turning left at the road to walk the last 100m back along the road to the City of Troy turf maze
Turning left at the road to walk the last 100m back along the road to the City of Troy turf maze

Returning to the City of Troy along the road
Returning to the City of Troy along the road

The whole route had been about 7km and with my dodgy knees it had taken us around three hours to walk. The virus regulations are slowly easing now and we were able to stop at a cafe in Easingwold for our traditional coffee and a bacon sandwich to round off our walk.

There was a clear path through the crop to the road and at the road we turned left to walk the final 100m along the road back to the City of Troy turf maze and the end of our walk.

Back at the City of Troy
Back at the City of Troy

Returning to our cars by the City of Troy turf maze at the end of our walk
Returning to our cars by the City of Troy turf maze at the end of our walk

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