I knew very little about Knox until the other week. In fact apart from Fort Knox where America's money is kept, and Barbara Knox who's played Rita in Coronation Street for most of our lifetimes, I knew nix about Knox.

It turns out it's a tiny, unsignposted hamlet off the main road between Harrogate and Killinghall. The road sign "Knox Mill Lane" is the only clue that it's there. The narrow lane (parking is a bit tricky) lined with attractive houses ends at a 17th century packhorse bridge across Oak Beck. It also used to be crossed by a ford which is now closed. The lane beyond climbs up to the recently built-up Bilton, but Knox itself is in the heart of the countryside, just beyond the reach of Harrogate's urban sprawl.

I left it by turning my back on the packhorse bridge and walking up the side of The Lodge up Knox Mill Bank.

Although there is a good, paved, communal drive up to the entrance to the snicket the route was to follow, a sign made clear that the right of way led up some steps beside the drive and across a lawn to arrive at the same point. Odd!

The snicket ended at a stile into a field busy with bleating sheep, each one accompanied by a brace of tiny, early lambs (this was the second week in February). In the next field the sheep were lambless and consequently quieter.

Another field and a couple of crossed drives later I found myself walking along a paved drive to meet the main A61 Harrogate Road. The traffic whipped past as I strolled northwards into Killinghall and crossed the road to walk into Church Lane, a pleasant, quiet little backwater overlooked at the start by a row of attractive cottages.

I passed the charming church and emerged beside the busy B6161 which carries traffic from Ripon southwards bypassing Harrogate on the way to Leathley, Pool, Leeds and Bradford.

A left-right dogleg took me up a lane past the local school and out into the countryside via a wide road which would provide a good parking alternative. Soon I was walking through pastures which, while there was at that time no cattle grazing in them, had plenty of evidence of their earlier presence in the form of well-weathered cowpats.

The most striking feature of the rural landscape during this part of the walk was the incongruous giant balls of Menwith Hill which loomed up over the skyline as the fields path dropped down to meet the lane at the farm Myer's Green.

Here I joined a mainly-green farm track heading first north then swinging round to the east. It was good walking here, a chance to stride along for a while without seeking out stiles or checking the map. The tree-lined River Nidd curved its way along the bottom of the broad valley and beyond it the land rose towards Ripley.

The fields were drab and the trees largely brown and bare. This was the time of year when the world is waiting for a signal to start producing spring's new life. With a hard frost making firm going of the muddy stretches, everything was in a state of suspended animation.

The green lane became a paved one and passed a cluster of farms and houses.

Before long I left the lane and headed down a fieldside to the riverbank before joining a well-walked footpath downstream towards the rumbling traffic which sped across the bridge carrying the main A61 road over the river.

Beyond that, viewed beneath its arch, was the lower, older and more attractive bridge which previously carried the road northwards.

Under the first bridge and following the path which led south from the new one, I was soon walking through fields again and encountering what was to be the only stretch of soggy mud along the entire route.

I negotiated it semi-successfully (ie it didn't go above my boot tops) and continued through more fields and past farms until I arrive back at the stile into the field with the lambless sheep.

From there I soon retraced my steps down two fields to Knox and its packhorse bridge.

Step by Step

  1. From packhorse bridge at end of Knox hamlet, head north up left-hand side of The Lodge, going up Knox Mill Bank via steps on right then turning left to cross over grass to go into snicket immediately to right of gate of Longridge.
  2. At end of snicket go over stile and walk diagonally towards top left-hand corner of field.
  3. From next stile go up field, heading just to left of buildings of Spruisty Hill Farm and stile into drive.
  4. Go through gate across drive, cross field with wall on right, and go over another stile into another drive. Turn left along this to a junction of tracks and look for stile to right of telegraph pole. Over this, continue with hedge on left to another drive. Go left and cross cattle grid then continue with track to main road.
  5. Turn right and walk north into Killinghall. Cross road via traffic island, turn right again briefly, then go left down Church Lane, with row of cottages on right.
  6. Walk down to pass church and meet B6161. Cross over with care, turn left and walk along to turn right into Crag Lane, immediately before school.
  7. Walk down lane until, immediately past Cragg Dale house on left, go left to follow public footpath sign across field diagonally to stile beside gate. Over stile, immediately turn left and follow fieldside path through a succession of fields until route descends softly. Turn left to go over stile by wooden gate, then go right and with hedge to right walk down to another stile into lane at Myer's Green farm.
  8. Go right and follow lane between fields all the way to Crag Hill hamlet (by which time lane has become paved) with its houses and farm. Continue to where lane swings right towards another farm and 100 yards before farm look for waymark sign on left pointing through gate and down field side to riverbank. Go with this, to swing right at river and follow footpath to bridge.
  9. Walk under bridge, veer right to meet path and turn right along it, looking for gap in fence on left. Go through it then head slightly right to climb to another stile in wall. Over this, keeping hedge on right, walk up field to gateway in top right-hand corner. Go through gateway and join (possibly muddy) track.
  10. At track junction, go over stile in hedge ahead and walk across field towards stile in short stretch of wall to left of big tree. Over this stile walk ahead to another stile and continue to pass to left of buildings and keep on down hill to cross stream by footbridge.
  11. Turn sharp right here, then go left just before hedge and walk up field to stile on right in field corner. Go over this to Spruisty Grange Farm. With hay barn on right, go through green gate then left past shed before turning right to follow stile with yellow waymark into field (don't be misled by a footpath sign which points right down drive).
  12. Walk diagonally across field, heading to right of big grey barn at Spruisty Hall Farm. Go through gate, walk slightly right to pass front of barn, then rightish to go through another gate into small field with house at far side. Walk on for a few feet with hedge on left and go through stile into access lane. Walk on and look for stile on left into field. Follow path across this, keeping stone wall of Spruisty Hill Farm on left to emerge via gate stile into lane. Cross and rejoin path through first two fields of walk to return to Knox.

Fact File

  • Set-off point: Knox village off A61 just north of Harrogate. Alternatively Crag Lane off B6161 near school.
  • Time for 5-mile walk: two hours.
  • Going: easy.
  • Map: OS Pathfinder 663 Harrogate.
  • Parking: considerately by roadside in Knox or in Crag Lane. This second option involves making a detour from Spruisty Hall Farm to look at Knox and return via same route.
  • Refreshments: None, unless before crossing A61 in Killinghall, you go straight on to either Three Horse Shoes or Greyhound public houses a short distance away.
  • Toilets: At either pub, or at Ripley car park a couple of miles further north.