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Byland Abbey and Wass Walk

Walk Summary
Distance:About two miles (3k)
Difficulty:Easy - ideal for kids
Start:Wass nr Ampleforth (SE556794)
Time:1½ - 2 hours, plus time to poke about round the abbey

This is a nice Sunday morning stroll, starting from Wass near Ampleforth, wandering down to Byland Abbey and then back up to Wass again. No more than a couple of miles, much of it sheep free so quite suitable for dogs. It also takes in two pubs so it must be good.

Byland Abbey from the roadside The tricky part is actually finding the place to begin with. It's two miles west of Ampleforth and five miles east of Sutton Bank. It's signposted from Ampleforth but if you're coming from any other direction signposting is just about non-existant, so use a map.

Wass is a tiny little hamlet nestling at the foot of the Hambleton Hills. It's tiny and very pretty, and it does have a splendid pub in the Wombwell Arms, the Wombwell's being the family who inhabit nearby  Newburgh Priory. The pub serves a lovely pint of Black Sheep among others, does really good food at reasonable prices and has accommodation at fair prices. Hard to fault really.

After parking somewhere near the pub, head off up the lane heading West (away from Ampleforth) which is signposted as a dead end. Just after the last house on the left and before you get to the wood, go through the gate on the left. It is a footpath but it's not marked. This wanders over by the corner of the wood, and at the crest of the hill is a magnificent viewpoint where someone has conveniently planted a park bench. The view is fantastic, showing the magnificent ruins of Byland Abbey at it's best.  

From here the path wanders down across the fields to the Abbey. Spend a little time looking round the abbey area it's quite interesting. There's  a pub here with a nice gatehouse behind it. The pub's called the Abbey Inn and is quite unusual in that it's owned by English Heritage. I think it's the only pub they own, and like most state owned enterprises is a dead certainty to fail. What makes bureaucrats in their cosseted jobs with feather-bedded terms and conditions think they can succeed in private enterprise I do not know. They should leave it to the professionals.

The pub does very posh accommodation (3 rooms) at prices to match, and very posh food to go with it. If you're planning to go at a busy time then booking's a good idea. Main courses are about £15 a time (2007), but there is a lighter lunch menu.

Byland abbey itself is pretty nondescript to be honest. It was Cistercian, was important, fell out with Henry VIII and is now a ruin. You used to be able to sneak in round the back to look, but they've built a big new fence now and  you have to pay £3.50, which is a lot considering how little of it there is. We now have free national museums, how come we still have to look at Enflish Heritage properties. More details can be found on the dismal English Heritage Website. When I looked in Summer 2007 it was offering me vouchers from the World Cup a year before and extolling the "warm winter welcome" at the Abbey Inn.

Anyway, from the abbey the path back to Wass goes behind the abbey (on the Wass side) from opposite where you reached the road originally, across fields and to the corner of a woodland. At the end of the woodland the path doubles back through the wood, over the hill and down a track back to Wass. Just in time for a nice pint at the Wombwell Arms, and perhaps a good  Sunday lunch.  

Pictures From the Byland Abbey Walk

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Comments (2)
when's the best time of day to see a Stoat
posted by carla-jane 01/06/2007 16:46:06
Just to let you know that the Abbey Inn has closed its doors and the people who have been running it have left.There was a note posted on the noticeboard from English Heritage which we saw this week. There are lots of walks around here as we found when we stayed at Carr House Farm,between Wass and Ampleforth. The lady there has lots of maps and is a mine of information. Her husband let us take one of their Cuckavalda Gundogs with us on our walk.Their details are on www.carrhousefarm.co.uk
posted by sue-carole 21/02/2011 22:07:32
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