Start / End: Huggate village car park
Distance: 4.7 miles
Time: 2 hours 15 minutes
Map: OS 294
This is another great walk taking in the Secret Poetry Bench exploring more of the hidden dry valleys of the Yorkshire Wolds. Take care with directions as the first time I did this I went wrong where Rabbit Dale joins Cow Dale.
1. Starting in the car park not far past the Wolds Inn in Huggate (the highest village on the Yorkshire Wolds), take the foot path to your right and at the car park entrance, heading across some farm land. There may be cows (and horses) here so be sure to keep your dog on a lead as you follow the path first to your left in front of an open barn, through a gate and down the field to another gate leading to a small non-through road in Huggate.
2. Follow the road to the left into Huggate village, past the playground and turn right heading out of the village along, what turns into, the farm road. This takes you past the sewage works and then climbs steadily up along the field-lined road heading toward Northfield Farm House. If your dog gets excited around sheep you may want to keep them on a lead for now as the first field on your right often has sheep in it. You will pass the sign to the Chalkland Way on your right here, which is where you will return.
3. Walk past the sign to Northfield Farm and carry on up the tree lined road for a while until it turns a slight corner. Here you will find a signpost on your left taking you to the Yorkshire Wolds Way along a bridleway that heads down the side of a field.
4. Follow the path all the way to the gate onto Horse Dale. Go through the gate and you will see the poetry bench down and to your right.
The bench was designed by artist Angus Ross, who created it to represent the curves of the dales (or dry valleys) and the springs along the Yorkshire Wolds Way. The bench is carved with a poem by John Wedgwood Clarke. Go down to the bench.
5. After a short rest at the Secret Poetry Bench continue to walk along the path and down into Horse Dale. At the bottom there are two gates. Take the gate along the footpath to your right rather than continuing straight ahead along the Yorkshire Wolds Way, which heads down Holm Dale. The path takes you along the bottom of Harper Dale and eventually up out of the valley as you come to Harper Dale Plantation.
6. Join the farm path as it bends round to your right and then straightens out. After a short distance you will see a footpath sign on your left which takes you down the edge of a field heading towards Rabbit Dale.
7. At the bottom of the field path turn right and head along Rabbit Dale. Part way along you will come to a gate beyond which the path goes through a sheep field so put your dog back on the lead.
8. At the end of the Dale, at the fence line you will find a sign post for the Chalkland Way. DO NOT go through the gate (this is where I went wrong the first time) but turn right before the gate and follow the Chalkland Way all the way down Cow Dale. Strangely there are sheep (not cows!) here so dogs should be kept on a lead.
9. At the end of Cow Dale is a gate that you saw on your way out that leads back onto the farm road, go through and turn left. Retrace your steps back past the sewage works, through Huggate and back to the car park - nipping down the road to the Wolds Inn or Rachel's Walnut Cottage Tea Room if you fancy a drink or something to eat. Alternatively, if you are heading east, drive the 3 miles along Driffield Road to Field House Camping Coffee Shop near Tibthorpe (where you can also stay!).
Finding the Secret Poetry Bench