THE village of Nunnington is a favourite of mine. It sits by the River Rye, proudly independent, confident of its own charm and happy to have the National Trust-owned Nunnington Hall hidden away in a corner.

All too often “the big house” owns and dominates its village, but Nunnington is made of sterner stuff. This delightful riverside walk, away from the more popular route past the hall, is perfect for a warm Sunday afternoon stroll. An electronic, digital thingummyjig, that I fear I will never master, tells me there is a total of 60ft of ascent on this walk, but for the life of me I cannot imagine where that is.

It is flat, very flat, but no less interesting for the lack of hills; a Wind in the Willows experience of meandering river, grassy banks with overhanging trees and a footbridge that wobbles, however hard you try to keep still, (it is perfectly safe). Halfway round you cross the dismantled Gilling to Helmsley railway line at Harome.

About a mile away on the north bank of the River Riccal, is a farm, the childhood home of Herbert Read, poet, writer, sometime anarchist, literary critic and world renowned art historian. He went to school in Nunnington and in his first 10 years never travelled further than Helmsley or Kirkbymoorside, the “big towns”.

Anyone wishing to conjure up life in early 20th century Ryedale might take a look at “Between the Riccall and Rye”, a collection of Read’s poetry and short essays published by Orage Press. (Read misspelt Riccal, adding an extra l). For me it gave an added dimension to the walk and each short piece is beautifully written.

I have walked this route both in a large group and on my own. I do not have a preference, but solitary walking is a wonderful opportunity to gather thoughts and mull over problems big and small. It is at these times I set myself challenges, many of which melt away as soon as the walk ends. However, on this occasion, as I crossed the short gap between the The Rye and The Riccal, I wondered if I could find the source of the two rivers and devise a walk between them.

The idea has taken root, or should that be route, and an initial look at the maps makes me think it is possible. For the final mile Nunnington is in full view again and if you have planned around opening times, tea and buns at Nunnington Hall or a drink at the atmospheric Royal Oak Inn provide an enticing extension to the day.

If you wish to make it a complete “Herbert Read” 10-mile walk you can follow the riverbank past the hall and return via Caukleys Bank and Stonegrave.

Read retired to Stonegrave in 1949 and stayed there until his death in 1968.



The walk starts in the north western corner of Nunnington village (grid reference SE 665793).

I will be following the route in a clockwise direction.

Join the riverside footpath to the left of the bridge for 1.2km and then cross a footbridge.

Turn left and follow the field path to a small wood (Low Moor Plantation) At a T Junction turn right on to a wide track with woods on the immediate right.

The route continues through a gate, crossing the river at another footbridge.

Now follow a slightly raised semi circular path round the field to a stile.

200m further on you walk under an old railway bridge.

Continue along the bank of the river and eventually the footpath will guide you to a long straight farm track taking you almost ,but not quite, into Harome village.

When you reach the River Riccal turn right before the bridge over a stile and we are now following the river bank for 2km.

The path takes you diagonally across the last paddock before the farm, to a stile in the corner.

Follow the field paths and final farm track to arrive back at the start point.

The path is well waymarked throughout but a relevant map will always be useful.