Howardian Hills walk – Coneysthorpe and Kirkham Priory

South-east from Coneysthorpe to the village of Crambeck via paths, tracks and bridleways. South to Kirkham Priory, then west to Whitwell-on-the-Hill. North to Welburn followed by a visit to Castle Howard, then further north back to Coneysthorpe. A 12-mile walk in the Howardian Hills.

Coneysthorpe Chapel at the top of the Coneysthorpe village green.

Fascinating trees by the side of Ray Wood on the Castle Howard estate.

Temple of the Four Winds, Castle Howard

The Temple of the Four Winds lies at the eastern end of Temple Terrace, commanding stunning views across the hills.

It was designed by Vanbrugh but remained unfinished at the time of his death in 1726. The interiors were finally decorated in 1738 by the stuccoist Francesco Vassalli.

The temple was originally used as a place for refreshment and reading, beneath it is a cellar where servants prepared the food they served to the family above.

New River Bridge, Castle Howard

New River Bridge spans New River on the Castle Howard estate. It is a sandstone bridge dating from the 1740s and is a Grade 1 listed building.

The Mausoleum, Castle Howard

The Mausoleum rises 90 feet into the air and is supported by a colonnade of 20 pillars. Designed by Nicholas Hawksmoor, it is one of the finest free-standing mausoleums in northern Europe.

Building began in 1729 but was not completed until after the deaths of both Hawskmoor and the 3rd Earl, who was originally buried in the local parish church and re-interred in the mausoleum six years later.

Four Faces in Pretty Wood on the Castle Howard estate.

The biggest tree on the Castle Howard estate, an ancient oak thought to be over 400 years old.

Kirkham Bridge over the River Derwent.

The River Derwent.

Kirkham Abbey railway signal box.

Aerial view of Kirkham Abbey.

Kirkham Priory

A sign near the priory entrance reads:

The priory was founded in 1122 by Walter l’Espec, Lord of Helmsley, for canons of St Augustine. Though they lived a communal life the Augustinian canons were not regarded as monks and were all ordained as priests.

This aerial view of the priory shows the main layout with the church and other buildings arranged around the cloister court. It gives a vivid impression of how the priory may have looked just before its suppression in 1538.

The buildings were set within a small walled precinct, and entry was controlled by a porter who lived in the gatehouse.

As well as the great church there was a large complex of buildings which included a chapter house, dormitory, refectory, kitchen and a west range for the storage of provisions. There was also the infirmary hall and the prior’s lodging.

The area between the church and gatehouse also contained buildings such as a guest hall and stables, though these have not been excavated. The site slopes considerably towards the river, and this means that some of the buildings stand on man-made terraces that are supported by retaining walls.

A friendly pony came over to see us as we crossed its field near Whitwell-on-the-Hill.

Heading down to Welburn.

The village of Welburn.

Gate House, Castle Howard’s southern entrance.

The straight road heading north to the Castle Howard Obelisk.

The Castle Howard Obelisk.

Lodge near the north entrance to the grounds of Castle Howard.