Raincliffe Woods is made up of just over 150 hectares of ancient woodland and is home to many species, including the native Alder, Hazel and Ash trees. In the woods you can also find areas of Western Red Ceder – a large tree introduced from America. These trees, with their wide branches and large leaves cover the woodland floor with shade and allow few plants to grow underneath them. Conifers and other species of tree was also introduced to the woods and managed for the commercial production of timber and charcoal. Since the 1950’s a large part of the woods have been replanted after centuries of deforestation and commercial felling. Intruder trees are gradually thinned out and native species reintroduced by the Woodland Trust and Raincliffe Woods Community Enterprise. On ground level you will also find woodrush, moss, snowdrops, bluebells and in early spring some stunning daffodils. If you are more of a fauna enthusiast, the tree canopy is filled with singing birds and if you walk quietly you might just bump into a herd of deer or a shy fox.
Deemed to steep and too wet for farming, Raincliffe Woods is the perfect place for a great uphill workout or for getting your shoes muddy. I followed the route AA published in their 2017 edition of 50 Walks in North Yorkshire, but you can also find great direction on their website. Rated medium on level of difficulty, the ± 8km or 5 mile long trail is made up of field tracks and some very steep woodland paths over gorgeous Yorkshire farmland and hillside woodland. The trail also passes Throxenby Mere where you can enjoy a rest on some benches.
The woodland and its walks are open to the public everyday and it is completely free. There are many car parks throughout the woods, but park at the Hazelhead picnic site on Mowthorpe Road. Raincliffe woods is a popular place for Sunday walks, mountain biking and is a great place to walk your well trained dog off the lead. Also, don’t be surprised to pass horses on the trails as the woodland is popular with riders from the local area. The paths can be slippery and uneven and very strenuous in the steeper areas, so be sure to wear suitable footwear and take a bottle of water with you. There are also no bathrooms or places to eat on the trail, but if you are lucky you will find an ice cream truck at the mere on summer days.