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3) Harewood Loop from Muddy Boots Cafe, Church Lane, Harewood, Leeds, LS17 9LJ.
Distance - 4.71miles.
Difficulty level -
Loop route 1, some 2, a couple of sections 3 out of 5 (1 = easy, 5 = difficult terrain).
A few scraggy bits of wide track to follow - traction sometimes a little challenging so a little assistance might be needed in a couple of places.
Muddy Boots Linear route 1 but with some long hills on tarmac depending how far you want to go. Manual wheelchair users will get tired arms on the hills.
Harewood House is a huge classic country house built in 1759, for the Lord and Lady Harewood of the time.
The gardens are designed by Lancelot "Capability" Brown. Descendants of and the current Lord and Lady Harewood still live here. You can often see them wandering around their extensive grounds.
This route avoids actually entering the part of the estate where you have to pay admission - it also doesn't take in the well known bird garden, and amenities. I have been in the past and it is well worth a visit.
The route starts at the fantastic Muddy Boots Cafe, located off Church Lane, Harewood. It can be a busy place so car parking can be an issue on a weekend. That said if you can't park in the disabled bay you can park on the double yellows on Church Lane itself.
The cafe has a ramp access and a disabled loo. Dogs are also allowed in which is a bonus. At the back of the cafe are a few benches and tables. Do spend some time just sitting here. You will be rewarded with a wonderful view off the resident Red Kites that live in the trees nearby. The Red Kites are a real success - part of a reintroduction programme way back, their numbers have grown from strength to strength. Red Kites are a bird of prey that were previously hunted / persecuted to extinction here in the UK. A bird that will scavenge the countryside, a majestic sight as they swoop down. Some of the local residents feed the resident Red Kites.
The cafe does an extensive menu.
My suggested route will take you around and in part in the outer grounds of Harewood House, mostly on wide dirt tracks, but also on the farm tracks. The loop is better done in a clockwise direction so that the few hills are downward on two short sections the climbing sections are on moderately rougher track - passable but a little assistance might be needed to maintain traction if you use a powered front attachment. 4 wheel scooters shouldn't have an issue as the weight is firmly on your drive wheels. The main up hill bits (except two short sections) are on tarmac.
So from the cafe head back towards the main road and turn right. If you find the main gates to Harewood House Estate locked ( as they have due to this Corona Virus then you can still access the route. Head back a short distance the way you came and you will see a sign for the dentists surgery. Go down this drive and head to the end, to the right at the end you will find a footpath ( no kerbs) that takes you down to the Dentists building. bear left by the gravel drive and this leads you to the main Harewood House drive to the rear of the main estate gates. Head across this road and pick up a track. There is a sign here that states "Private Grounds". This is because the actual footpath most will take is off the main road through a gate - however there is a small step here so its not suitable for us on wheels.
This wide track takes you into the woodland. Just follow the main path as it winds through the woods. Stunning Rhododendrons line the track. The woodland either side is quite thick so lots of birds can be heard. Deer are often seen here but you luck usually depends on how many dog walkers have visited before you. Do also listen for woodpecker doing their thing.
After a short distance you come to a gate. Sadly it is locked but you can get around this by going left here just before. You can get around by going in-between a tree and the end of the fence - it is a little bit rooty but passable. The gap is approx 80 cm. After the gap turn right then follow the track left. This obstacle is the only barrier you will encounter. I have mentioned this to the Harewood Est team so the gate may be modified in the future.
Follow the track and eventually you come to couple of wider openable gates. After the second gate turn right ( I stay near to the fence which avoids the rougher track to the main track. Go right here to yet another but even wider gate. You are now entering an area often shared with sheep and cattle. So dogs should be on leads until you get through the gate at the bottom of there track. The track here can be a little rough so do make use of the smooth grass at the side. In some places the actual wide track has been washed out so take care as you head down this. Go through the gate at the bottom and bear left. After a short distance follow the track to the right. This can be a little scramble climb and traction can be an issue in a few short sections. Again you are in woodland. Just follow this track. The track then takes you right to a dip and another climb. A little steep so I always take a run down one side and power out up the hill.
If your an Emmerdale Farm fan then look to your left after the climb up the hill. The buildings you can glimpse through the trees on your left are the Emmerdale Farm studios and the fictional village of Hotten.
Stay on this track quite a distance - eventually you will come to a left turn - ignore this - head straight then follow it down hill to the right. Be careful as there are two right turns here. The first is rocky and very steep so avoid and go down the second right turn. This is a steep corner so take it very wide. Head down the hill. This takes you to the Harewood Holiday Cottages and another wide gate. Pass through this gate keeping on the main track. Sheep and cattle here , the Highland cattle are fenced in but no-one has told the sheep so they can be anywhere. ~Do also look out for the Boar that lives with the Highland cattle. He wanders around as if he owns the place.
Stay on this track downhill. over the cattle grid and bear left then right and head up the tarmac road, You will pass a number of estate buildings, through another very wide automatic gate and keep climbing uphill. At the very top is another cattle grid and large gate on its right. Here you are entering the deer park, lots of red deer, roe and fallow. Great for seeing rutting stags during the autumn.
Head down this path to a crossroads, take the roads to the right and head uphill. Gt S Woodpecker often nest in the pine trees here during spring. Head up the road which is quite a distance. On you left near the top you come to a bench seat. A great place for stop - perhaps a place where you and yours can stop and take in the lovely scenery - often with herds of deer and more Red Kites above. Actually this is a great place to take pictures of the Red Kites as they often swoop and soar low here.
Carry on along this road and pass through two further gates. This leads you back to the Muddy Boots Cafe on your left;.
If you want to do just the Muddy Boots Linear route then you would head right down from there cafe to the deer park and grounds, you would be on the flat then downhill but as they say what goes down must go up.
What can you see on this outing.
All the usually British birds, lots and lots of Red Kites, Woodpeckers, Buzzards, Owls, Lots of Deer.
A fantastic place to take a picnic and enjoy the distant views.
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