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Country walk around Kirkbymoorside
FAIRS and markets were the forerunners of trade and commerce in medieval times.
It was not only trading that took place on these days as there was much merrymaking to be had, for they were often organised by the church on feast days and religious festivals.
Medieval fairs and markets became closely connected to the church as an important source of revenue.
It was after the Norman conquest that fairs became important and to hold such an event needed permission, usually a grant from the king.
The fairs and markets would be held in local towns, especially the ones where trade routes passed through or nearby.
Kirkbymoorside had the opportunity to attract people, being on the route between York and Scarborough.
It had good coaching inns and stabling and became a market town in the 13th century.
At the market, people could buy vegetables, household goods, live animals, pots, pans and knives. At Kirkham they even held a fair for the sale of birds.
There was no particular format for selling their wares. The rich merchants would have a tent in which to display their goods, but selling goods at the fair was open to anyone and the peasants would bring what they had and lay them on the ground.
All this did not go unnoticed by the medieval equivalent of the revenue man who would levy a tax on the sellers for displaying their goods.
The dates for these fairs and markets were often coincident with events when crowds of people would be in the vicinity for gatherings at religious festivals and medieval tournaments.
Connected with fairs and markets was merrymaking, feasting, courtship and the drinking of lots of alcohol which led inevitably to the young bucks fighting.
Other attractions included acrobats, bear-baiting, cock fighting, jugglers, musicians and fools – much like markets today, really, if you think about it.
Leave the car park in Kirkbymoorside at the entrance and go left. At the roundabout, go straight ahead along Castlegate.
It’s the start of a long climb now but the views are well worth the effort. When the road splits, bear right along Park Lane, past an old chapel which is now a private residence and into open countryside with good views already looking back across Kirkbymoorside across to the Wolds.
A long gentle climb now, as the rural landscape takes over and leads up to higher ground. Soon magnificent views across to Bilsdale appear on the left and a little further along you pass a house on your right.
Continue straight ahead to Low Park Farm. Bear right here and shortly, over the blocked cattle grid, leave the Tarmac to go left onto a farm track.
When the path forks, keep straight ahead on the left track. Follow the edge of the wood, keeping straight ahead at all times and when the track forks again keep straight ahead on the left track once more.
Eventually you leave the trees behind and have grand views across to the North York Moors on your right. Still climbing gently, you reach the top of the hill as the track bends to the left.
There are more grand views from here across to Gillamoor and beyond.
At the T-junction, go left, soon to have more fabulous views almost all round. At the next junction, go right, then right again at the entrance to High Park Farm.
The path to take should go along the driveway, across the lawn to a gate in the corner, but there might be a diversion marked taking you immediately into the field on the left, then immediately right onto a wide grassy track which does seem the better idea as it joins the other track without offending the house owner.
Continue across the field, then go right at the hedge, keep following the wide field track until it narrows at Manor Vale Wood.
Take the narrow path on the right here downhill all the way to the golf club drive.
Take a left here, then after some way you reach the road. Go left again and right at the roundabout to return to the Kirkbymoorside car park.
Distance – Five miles (8km)
Time – Two hours
Grading – Easy
Start/grid ref – Kirkbymoorside, grid ref 695865
Best map – OS Landranger 100
Parking – Kirkbymoorside car park or street
Refreshments – Good pubs and cafes in Kirkbymoorside
Public toilets – car park