Villages and Churches of Lower Nidderdale

What a difference a day makes! Well, most of the day anyway. Sunday’s walk was with The Dalesbus Ramblers again. It was another visit to Nidderdale but much lower down the dale and just a short bus journey from Harrogate. For most of the day we had blue sky and sunshine but after lunch we walked through a brief snowfall.


Learn some of the history of the villages of Lower Nidderdale.
Start: Hampsthwaite: 11:25
Finish: Ripley: Approx. 15.30
Distance/Grading: 7 miles / Moderate
TRAVEL: Outward: Bus 24 from Harrogate (11.05). Connections on bus 36 from Leeds (09.45) to Harrogate or from Ripon (10.45) to Killinghall.
Return: Bus 36 to Ripon, or Harrogate and Leeds.
Walk Leaders: Duncan & Brenda”

Hampsthwaite Church

St Thomas a Becket Church in the large village of Hampsthwaite has a long history probably dating back to Saxon times. It has connections with the murder of St Thomas of Canterbury.

St Thomas a Becket

The first known church to be built here was probably completed about 1180 and is believed to have been constructed by Hugh de Morville the then Constable of Knaresborough Castle and one of the four knights responsible for the murder at Canterbury in 1170 of Archbishop Becket. The knights were later pardoned for their crime by the Pope who (it is thought) required the building and dedication of the church as part of the penance imposed upon Hugh de Morville. The church is believed to be one of only two churches in the Church of England to currently enjoy that dedication to St. Thomas a Becket.”

Hampsthwaite Lych Gate

The Lychgate …

The lychgate at the entrance to the church is the work of Robert Thompson of Kilburn. It was given by Lady Aykroyd and was erected in 1938 in memory of her parents, Sir James Roberts Bt. and Lady Elizabeth Roberts. Sadly, in comparatively recent years the original four-legged Thompson mice have been damaged.

… and the War Memorial

Hampsthwaite war memorial

Nearby, is the War Memorial, which commemorates the men from the village who died in the two world wars. It takes the form of a Celtic cross on a stone plinth and lies in direct line with the cross on the altar in the church. This was stipulated by Canon Peck and the churchwardens in their application for a faculty from the Diocese.”

A church service was in progress so we began our walk out of Hampsthwaite towards Ripley along the tracks of the Nidderdale Way which we followed for the best part of the day’s walk.


Looking back to Hampsthwaite after a steep climb out of the village.

After a couple of miles of broad track, much of it through woodland, we approached the Castle and village of Ripley. Ripley Castle also has a long and fascinating history with connections to the Gunpowder Plot. It is a great visitor attraction and popular local wedding venue. The village of Ripley itself, where we stopped for our lunch break, has a unique style and history. It was rebuilt in the 19th century and modelled on a village in Alsace, France, complete with a Hotel de Ville-style town hall.

Ripley Castle and Church

Approaching Ripley we had a glimpse of the Castle and grounds

Ripley Castle

Ripley Castle

Ripley Church

Ripley All Saints Church

Ripley village square

Ripley Village Square

Ripley Houses

Typical Ripley Houses

From Ripley we took The Nidderdale Way to add a loop to our walk via Cayton Gill meadows and woodland returning to Ripley for the bus back to Harrogate.

On my recent rambling forays I have been made more and more aware of the fact that The Tour France ‘Grand Départ’ will be staged on two days in Yorkshire in July this year.

Grand Depart

Le Grand Départ will pass through Ripley. Signs at The Boars Head Hotel





2 comments on “Villages and Churches of Lower Nidderdale

  1. nilly says:

    Our home territory! Ripley has a lot going on for a small village – an excellent village shop with gourmet foods, the castle and its events, antiques fairs, high class car boot sales, an annual reclamation fair and more. We could see the snowy hills of Nidderdale from our attic yesterday!

    • I have visited the Castle in the past and know they have events but I think they may be very busy. Still I expect they can cope. I am really taken by Nidderdale and hope to get there a few more times this year.

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