Round Howe and Billy Bank Woods trail
This walk takes you along the banks of the River Swale and through rough pasture behind Round Howe. You'll see fields that are being managed for wild flowers and steep sided hills cloaked in ancient woodland with distant views of Richmond. There are plenty of places to sit on the riverbank for a picnic and you'll even be able to skim stones in places!
Perfect for families
This is a great walk for families, with plenty of open space for running, playing and picnicking.
Round Howe car park (Pay & Display)
Leave the car park by crossing the bridge across the River Swale and turn left through a gate at the far end. Continue along a rough surfaced path surrounded by trees, with the river on your left. Eventually you will emerge on to more open grassland.
The Swale is one of the fastest rising rivers in England. People once said that the Swale “rushesh rather than runneth”. Its name is Anglo-Saxon, Sualuae, meaning “rapid and liable to deluge”. Be aware that the river level can rise very quickly after heavy rainfall.
Bear left along a now unsurfaced grassy path and through a kissing gate. Keep the river on your left. An open grassy pasture opens up in front of you and the path skirts the edge of the pasture along the riverside. Kingfisher, dipper and grey wagtail are often visible on this stretch of river.
An abundance of flowers
The National Trust is working with its tenant farmer at Hudswell Woods to graze this rough pasture with Belted Galloway cattle. This light grazing, mainly over the winter months, will encourage a greater variety of flowers to grow as the taller, rougher vegetation is eaten off and flower seed is pushed in to the ground by the cattle’s feet.
As the river turns sharp right you will see a large pebble beach. Standing with the pebble beach behind you continue along the diagonal path that crosses the pasture to the woodland edge and another kissing gate (do not go through the gate).
Great for a picnic
The river bend is a super spot for a picnic and trying your hand at stone skimming. Please take all your litter back to the bins provided in the car park. BBQs are not permitted.
Billy Bank Wood climbs steeply on your left. Do not enter the wood, but follow the footpath back through the pasture keeping the wood and craggy cliffs on your left. Continue on through a kissing gate then bear left and follow a smaller path through rough pasture. This path separates Round Howe Wood on your left and Round Howe, the steep conical wooded hill on your right.
The woodlands around here are a mix of trees planted around 150 years ago and others that have grown naturally. We help care for these woods by selectively felling some trees to encourage further new ones to grow and by ensuring that all walls and fences can control livestock.
The path continues in the little valley around steep-sided Round Howe through flowery grassland and alongside massive hazel trees that grow on old medieval field boundaries. You'll soon rejoin the riverside path and come to the entrance area at the end of the footbridge that takes you back to the car park.
The term Howe comes from haugr - hill or knoll in old Norse. It's thought that during the Ice Age Swaledale’s glacial ice was forced around the harder rock underlying Round Howe, the softer rock eroded and left the isolated hillock that you see today.
Round Howe car park
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