I ALWAYS enjoy my last ‘distant’ walk the weekend the clocks go back. I was lucky because the Saturday dawned cold and sunny and the village of Aberford, east of Leeds, looked at its best in the bright sunlight and with the autumn colours approaching their peak.
Start at the church which has a most unusual dedication. St Ricarius is said to have been a French warrior who was converted to Chrisitianity by Irish missionaries and then went on a preaching mission to England in AD 630.
Leave the gates of the church, turn left and pass the old market cross which dates to the 14th century although some think that it is much earlier. Pass the Swan, an old coaching Inn. On the wall you can still see a notice offering good post horses for hire.
From the Swan turn left towards Barwick-in-Elmet. Turn left along a well marked footpath sign and follow this through a small wood.
Cross a field to reach the Aberford to Barwick-in -Elmet once more. Turn left and follow a grass verge to Leyfield Farm.
Turn right along a signed bridleway. The path, marked by yellow arrows, crosses Potterton Beck via a footbridge. Look out to the left for a distant view of Barwick-in-Elmet church. The path cuts through an obvious and substantial embankment which is known as the Ridge.
This was part of the Celtic defences which were breached by the Romans during a struggle which lasted for two years beginning in AD 78.
From the earthworks, the path swings right and follows the well named Miry Lane which had been hardened by the morning frost. The lane ascends gently towards Potterton on the right and Barwick-in-Elmet to the left.
Miry Lane ends at the gates of Potterton Hall which is mentioned in deeds dating to the 12th century and is still privately owned. The facade of the present building dates to 1720.
Turn left at the hall and follow a quiet road. Turn right onto the more substantial Kiddal Lane and follow this towards the Fox and Grapes pub.
Just before the pub turn right along a footpath once more indicated by a line of yellow arrows. The route crosses stiles and reaches Potterton Lane.
Cross this to another footpath sign. Bear right and follow the line of a hedge until Becca Home Farm comes in sight.
Bear left around this and then sharp right passing Becca Hall on the left.
This has its origins in the 13th century when it was owned by Henry le Gramary. It was he who granted a market charter to Aberford in 1248 and the market cross mentioned earlier may date to this time.
Continue straight ahead and follow the track back to Aberford, the Swan and the church to conclude this historic walk.