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16th April 2012

New walk reveals Yorkshire’s secret garden….

The public has the chance to experience some of North Yorkshire’s most spectacular scenery as part of a re-established circular walk being published this month, which follows a 250 year old route created by William Aislabie through his estates at Studley Royal, Laver Banks and Hackfall.

The route has been painstakingly recreated by Guild member author Mark Reid, with support from the Woodland Trust, National Trust, Hackfall Trust, Nidderdale AONB, North Yorkshire County Council and English Heritage, taking in over 17 miles of rolling countryside. 1,000 copies of the walk are being printed for distribution and people can download a copy from the Woodland Trust website.

Mark Reid said: “The whole swathe of countryside from Fountains Abbey to Hackfall is culturally and historically renowned, and 200 years ago these breath-taking landscapes were firmly on the map of well-heeled travellers taking in the Grand Tours of the day. What William Aislabie created at Studley Royal and Hackfall led the way for garden design on a grand scale, with a private carriageway that linked up his landscape gardens.

Sadly, this route fell out of use in the nineteenth century and has since been lost. But I was able to use a little artistic licence, combined with clues and evidence of the original to create something which hopefully William Aislabie would have approved of!”

There are three lengths of route for those not brave enough to attempt the full 17.5 miles, a 11.5 mile ‘medium’ route and a 7.5 miles ‘short’ route have also been designed.

Paul Mosley, Woodland Trust Hackfall Officer added: “For the first time in 200 year walkers can re-discover the unique landscape  journey though the Aislabie Landscapes of North Yorkshire, visiting  Studley Royal, Laver Banks and Hackfall.   The stretches of the walk through Hackfall takes visitors on an inspirational and picturesque journey around the ‘garden features’ created by William Aislabie. This section of the walk includes some amazing viewpoints, vistas, water features and follies that enhance the natural features of the woodland landscape.”

The design and printing of the walk has been funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) as part of a grant of just under £1million, which also saw a five year programme of works at Hackfall which have recently been completed.

For further information about the walk and to download a copy of the route go to

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Notes to editors:

For further information contact the Woodland Trust press office on 01476 581121 or email

The Woodland Trust is the UK’s leading charity championing native woods and trees. It has 300,000 members and supporters.

The Trust has three key aims: i) to enable the creation of more native woods and places rich in trees ii) to protect native woods, trees and their wildlife for the future iii) to inspire everyone to enjoy and value woods and trees.

Established in 1972, the Woodland Trust now has over 1,000 sites in its care covering approximately 20,000 hectares (50,000 acres). Access to its sites is free.

Hackfall is a designated Grade 1 Listed Garden, contains four Grade 2 Listed Buildings, forms its own Conservation Area, as well as being a Site of Special Scientific Interest within the Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

The wood has been supported with a grant of just under £1million from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and saw a five year programme of works which have recently been completed. Now, for the first time in nearly 200 years visitors can enjoy the full Hackfall experience, thanks to the work of The Hackfall Trust, Woodland Trust, Landmark Trust and volunteers. Further grants were also provided by English Heritage, Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Yorventure, through funds generated by Yorwaste Ltd, and the North Yorkshire Aggregates Grant Scheme.

Using money raised through the National Lottery, since 1994 the Heritage Lottery Fund has not only revitalised hundreds of museums, parks, historic buildings, landscapes and wildlife sites, but has also given new meaning to heritage itself. People from every walk of life are now involved with the heritage that inspires them, making choices about what they want to keep and share from the past, for future generations. HLF has supported more than 30,000 projects, allocating over £4.5billion across the UK, including £351million to 2,890 projects across the Yorkshire and the Humber region alone. Website:

Studley Royal including the ruins of Fountains Abbey (a National Trust site), was designated a World Heritage Site in 1986 for fulfilling the following criteria:

Criteria (i) to represent a masterpiece of human creative genius
The Aislabies’ vision to enhance this part of the Skell valley and create a spectacular water garden was both bold and innovative. The design became influential throughout Britain and Europe and occupies an important place in the development of designed landscapes.

Criteria (iv) to be an outstanding example of a type of building, architectural or technological ensemble or landscape which illustrates (a) significant stage(s) in human history;
The garden design took full advantage of the natural setting in the valley and the Romantic ideals of the period. The following generation developed these earlier ideas into the Picturesque and Naturalistic garden styles.