From the timeless River Ure and the remains of Jervaulx Abbey, this walk then moves forward to the large estate and impressive country house at Danby Hall. The immaculate village of Thornton Steward and the quirky pub at Cover Bridge complete a walk through the ages.

Park at the car park at Jervaulx Abbey. From the car park cross the road (A6108) and enter the abbey grounds. A voluntary donation is asked for to help with the upkeep of the abbey. After exploring the ruins, return to the donation box and take a path heading east/left for one mile across the well-kept estate.

Darlington and Stockton Times: Jervaulx Abbey ruins

The walking is straightforward, sheep plentiful and the deer elusive. After passing the gate house on the edge of the estate turn left at the road and follow it down to Kilgram Bridge.

Read more: A reservoir walk with dam workings and a drowned village

Although it was the monks who originally built this fine bridge if you lean over the side and look carefully into the running water you will be able to see the foundations of an old Roman road, part of a ford for their legions on their way north.

Darlington and Stockton Times: Jervaulx Abbey walk map

An ancient legend tells a different story; the devil promised to donate a bridge to the people on the condition that the first living thing to walk over the ‘evil waters’ was given to him as a sacrifice. An enterprising shepherd swam the river and whistled for his dog to follow over the new bridge; the dog did and became the devil’s sacrifice. The dog was called Grim, so Kill Grim became Kilgram Bridge over time!

No such risk these days but once across the bridge, leave the road at a signpost to your left and head diagonally uphill over the fields towards the lovely village of Thornton Steward. Walk through this immaculately maintained village before joining a track at its western end and towards the fascinating St Oswald’s Church.

Darlington and Stockton Times: Jervaulx Abbey Thornton Stewart

It is the oldest church in the area, some parts dating back to over 1,000 years. From here head west through open fields towards (and below) another grand building, Danby Hall. You will be unable to gain entrance to the hall (it is privately owned) but the building is impressive and the grounds, which sweep down to the river, are very impressive. A Georgian masterpiece.

After one and a half miles the estate grounds meet the estate road and some lovely renovated estate buildings. Turn left at the main road and cross two road bridges, the second being Cover Bridge, another fine pack horse bridge with a pub.

Cross Cover Bridge and immediately turn left on to the riverside path. The final one and a half miles of this interesting walk is a real pleasure. The path sticks close to the River (Cover soon becoming the Ure) as it passes serenely through the landscape of the area. As well as walkers it is popular with fishermen… do watch out for the legendary ‘kelpie’ fish which leaps out to devour its victims.

The path follows a mix of woodland and open walking before all too soon there is a sharp right turn and a short lane leading back to the car at Jervaulx.

Walk facts

Distance: Roughly seven miles.

Height to climb: 45m (150 feet).

Start: SE 169857. There is a free car parking at Jervaulx Abbey.

Difficulty: A low level walk which can be muddy in places during the autumn months.

Refreshments: The inn at Cover Bridge is full of character and it is a short walk back from there. Alternatively, Masham or Leyburn are only a few miles further with cafes and pubs.

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 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.

Please observe the Countryside Code and park sensibly.

  • Jonathan Smith runs Where2walk, a walking company in the Yorkshire Dales. He has published three books on the Dales, The Yorkshire 3 Peaks, The Dales 30 and Walks without Stiles, all available direct from the Where2walk website, which also features hundreds of walks across Yorkshire, from easy strolls to harder climbs.