We first visited Hackfall Woods last year in early May, today I decided we were well overdue a visit and my Mum was keen to go as she had never been. A beautiful woods full of listed buildings to explore, grottos, waterfalls, cascading streams, a castle there is so much to enjoy in the woods. Hackfall woods is located just 3 miles from the small market town of Masham. Located within beautiful Yorkshire Dales, Hackfall woods covers 47 hectares (nearly 120 acres) of ancient semi-natural woodland within a steep rocky gorge of the River Ure. For sat-nav, the car park postcode is HG4 3BS.
We arrived early at just after 10am and found the free car park empty. The weather was foggy today so the car park views were not on show today, but none the less we were looking forward to exploring the woods. Please note the woods is not wheelchair accessible or pushchair friendly. I would say you need to reasonably fit and well as some areas are steep and challenging. Good suitable footwear too, as some areas can be very muddy.
We headed down towards the top of Limehouse Field and started the walk along the top to the ruin. On the way, there is a lovely spot to enjoy the view over the woods. The Ruin itself is a holiday let more details can be found here
. So you have to walk around the back of the building if you are passing by between certain hours that are on an information poster attached to the gate. The building itself is wow! I can imagine it is a very enjoyable experience staying there with the woods to explore on your doorstep.
On from here, we walked onto the top pond, spotting fairy hotels in the trees and taking in the smell of wild garlic whilst listening to the birdsong. There is a lovely little bridge perfect for a photo opportunity.
We then followed the path along to Alum Spring, we headed down to Kent’s seat crossed over the stream on the stepping stones, taking a rest whilst Willow had a little paddle. This area is by far one of my favourites, watching the springs flow down into the stream whilst the girls enjoyed the water a really beautiful setting. I couldn’t quite capture how pretty it was on my camera so I did a little video too which is within the YouTube video below.
We then began the ascent up to Mowbray Castle, which could be seen from the start of the walk in the distance so it was great time to remind the girls how great they were doing walking so far.
We stopped to admire the views and then made our way onto Raven Scar, now this is steep with narrow paths and big drops so if your not great with heights I would give it a miss. Also if it’s been wet the ground can be muddy and slippery underfoot again I think its best for good weather months only. Here are a few photos to try to give you an idea. You can, of course, walk another of the 4 walks available and miss this area out which if your children are young I would definitely recommend doing . My mum and I were on edge with my youngest who likes to go a little too fast and is prone to falling over! Willow slipped at one point near a large drop but thankfully was ok. The next visit we will likely give this area a miss. The four different walks can be found here
We took our time heading down toward the path by the river, passing fields of bluebells which are now dying off (photo from last years visit in April) and even stopped to have some lunch using one of the little bridges as a seat with our legs dangling above the flowing water it was pretty idyllic and another much-needed rest for Lily. It was fascinating for the kids passing one area with huge rocks practically blocking the path, a sign of a landslide in the past.
We had a few streams to cross some were easier than others and some of us got wet feet! But it was all part of the fun and adventure, dodging muddy areas and balancing on wobbly rocks.
We then arrive at Fishers Seat a great place to stop and admire the views over the River Ure. As you turn back around you can see The Ruin too up high above the woods and we could see some people enjoying the view from up there. To the left-hand side when walking out of Fisher’s Seat you can hear a waterfall and a short distance down a path you can see it through the greenery.
We walk along the path to the Forty Foot Fall again stepping over streams flowing down to the river, we stop at the grotto to admire the view. It may sound like a lot of stops but with the varying slopes throughout the woods, the children definitely appreciated it again check the video for it it’s one that didn’t photo well but is as my youngest said ‘such a pretty view’. From the Grotto is only a short distance to the Pond, now sadly when we visited today the pump was out of action and a sign in place saying it was being repaired but no date was given for when it would be fixed. I have attached a photo from last year for you to see it and I will try to see if I can find out a date for the repairs to be finished. Even without the pump working it is still an enjoyable place to take in the views, local wildlife and read about the history.
We then began our walk back up to the car park after a very enjoyable few hours in the woods and covering around 4 miles. On the way home, we stopped off in Masham for a well-deserved ice cream from Joneva, which was so tasty I forgot to even get a photo! Loads of lovely places to eat in Masham too if you fancy an early walk and then a stop off for lunch afterwards. There are no public conveniences as the woods so we found the ones in Masham which are located behind the Tourist Information building before the journey home.
I really think this is such a hidden gem, somewhere with views that will captivate you at any age, buildings to explore and the walk is a great mixture of terrain. Hackfall was turned into a beautiful and wild romantic garden in the 18th century by William Aislabie who added follies, grottos, waterfalls, and a spectacular fountain, after his father, John Aislabie, bought the site in 1731. I for one am so thankful that William Aislabie created this amazing woodland garden and that we are lucky enough to be able to go and enjoy it for free.
Have you been to Hackfall Woods? Which part is your favourite?