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Cycle ride at Castle Howard Arboretum
THE mighty oak was for many years the king of trees.
These great oaks were felled to be used in the building of houses and most importantly for the castles, forts and ships that protected our country.
Even the Spanish king decreed that the oaks of English forests must be destroyed before he would be able to achieve victory.
As the years passed many of England’s huge forests were felled, and it soon became a hanging offence to fell a tree without a permit.
This presented a problem for house and barn construction, as large trees became unavailable it became necessary for shorter timbers to be spliced to attain the length for the long cruck blades.
Cruck framed barns date back to the Saxons but they got into their stride in medieval times where large halls and barns were built.
The bigger the barn the more prosperous you were thought to be. Huge timbers formed the cruck blades and were carefully selected from trees which had grown with a symmetrical curve. Unfortunately for the house and barn builders, curved oak timbers were much in demand for building ships as well and became scarce.
After careful selection of the timbers required for the cruck arms, the tree would be sliced down the centre leaving two identical curved pieces of wood. These were then laid on the ground and joined together at the top with a collar.
When complete it would be erected to form an arch and connected to the other cruck frames used in the construction of the building.
An example of a small cruck house was built on the estate at Castle Howard. Of traditional design the building was made of oak and chestnut from the estate.
So why not take a break from your cycle ride and drop in to the arboretum to take a walk through the grounds and admire the small lake, the wildlife and those magnificent trees? You never know you might just find a small cruck house hiding away somewhere.
Leave Malton towards Old Malton on the Pickering road. At the roundabout over the A64, take the second left towards Pickering and in a few hundred yards, turn left again at the sign for Eden Camp and Ryton.
Keep on the Ryton road which is straight and narrow with open views, cross the bridge over the River Rye and soon pass the few houses of Ryton.
Look out for the sign for Great Habton, turn left here along Ryton Rigg Road.
The road starts to deteriorate but soon reaches Great Habton, go right at the T-junction signed to Malton and Pickering, then soon left signed to Amotherby and Malton then left again at the junction still signed to Amotherby and Malton.
Take care at the narrow humped bridge over the River Rye and in a couple of miles you arrive at Amotherby.
Go right at the T-junction signed to Helmsley and continue along through Appleton-le-Street, Barton-le- Street to Slingsby.
Turn left here signed to Castle Howard and York. Climb up Slingsby Heights to Banks Wood, then enjoy the switchback ride along the Castle Howard road with grand views through the colonnade of trees to the Obelisk in the distance.
As you approach the first crossroads and gates at the entrance to the estate, turn right signed to Terrington.
Cycle along through the wood, then down a steep hill to some sharp corners and continue along to eventually reach a T-junction.
Turn left here signed to Ganthorpe and York and in almost three miles turn left again signed to Welburn and York.
Enjoy the grand views across to the Castle Howard Pyramid then at the crossroads, turn left downhill.
Pass through the two narrow openings in the estate wall to soon reach the Obelisk round about.
Go left here as signed to visit the arboretum and coffee shop.
If you are not visiting, continue along past the lake to the crossroads, go right through Coneysthorpe village and climb along the bumpy road, then round the downhill hairpin bends.
Continue along for several miles to return to Malton and some well earned refreshment.
Distance – 28miles, 45/km
Terrain – Easy Best Map – OS Landranger 100
Start/Grid Ref – Malton market place, grid ref: 785717
Refreshments – Plenty in Malton but the Arboretum has a small café and just over the road is the Castle Howard complex with refreshment. There are one or two pubs in the villages along the way
Public toilets – Arboretum, Castle Howard and Malton