The River Swale, Hudswell Woods
The River Swale, Hudswell Woods

The National Trust preserves beautiful ancient woodland along the south bank of the River Swale at Hudswell Woods, just west of historic Richmond, Yorkshire. The area may have originally formed part of a purpose-built picturesque woodland and includes the remains of disused quarries. It is bounded by fields and meadows showing evidence of ancient field boundaries.

The woodland is considered to be of national importance. Much of it is over 400 years old. The predominant species is ash but you will also find conifers, lime, oak, beech and sycamore. Under the forest canopy species like hazel, yew and holly thrive.

Five miles of linked trails lead beside the river and through woodland and can be combined to make a circular walk or extended to join with other local footpaths beside the River Swale.

There are four colour-coded routes. The Low Bank and Billy Woods Trail is a moderate walk stretching one mile along the river and past rocky crags. The Round Howe Grassland Trail is the shortest and easiest walk at just 3/4 mile, passing through meadows and beside the river. This trail is especially good for butterflies in summer.

A mossy fallen tree in Hudswell Woods
A mossy fallen tree in Hudswell Woods

The circular Hudswell Woods Trail is 1.5 miles long and is steep in places. Half the trail follows close beside the river and the return journey follows the top of the woodland. The Hudswell Woods Trail links to the longer Hag Wood Trail, which is 3.5 miles long and can be challenging in places.

Hudswell village has been in the national news recently over its community-run pub, but here beside the river there are no 'last order' calls to disturb the peace.

Hudswell Woods is bounded by wildflower meadows where the Trust has been working to encourage the growth of different varieties of wildflowers which, in turn, encourages bumblebees, moths, and other insects. Part of the meadow management includes introducing Shetland ponies and hardy breed cattle for winter grazing.

Autumn flowers in Hudswell Woods
Autumn flowers in Hudswell Woods

The woodland is an excellent place for birdwatching and the mix of wooded areas with nearby meadows, grassland, pasture and hedgerows make Hudswell ideal for viewing native birds in summer and migrant species in winter.

Among common species at Hudswell are siskin, redpoll, and even sand martins, but the riverside area is best for viewing the elusive kingfisher as well as goosanders, grey wagtails and dippers. Kestrels and woodpeckers visit the riverside grasslands.

But Hudswell is not all about birds; the woodland is lush with bluebells in spring, especially around Billy Bank, and wild garlic is prolific early in the year. In autumn fungi are plentiful under the tree canopy.

The riverside trail takes you past the ruins of what appears to be an overgrown quarry, but there is no information panel to suggest anything about its history. Another thing I noticed was a fallen tree where visitors had hammered massive numbers of penny and tuppence coins into the wood. All it takes is one person to start and before you know it the stump is practically covered with pennies!

Overgrown quarry ruins
Overgrown quarry ruins

Getting There

Hudswell Woods can be reached on foot from Richmond town centre. Take Green Bridge to the south bank of the River Swale and follow the signposted footpath along the riverside. This will take you through Low Bank Wood and Billy Bank Wood, and past the conical hill of Round Howe before you reach the National Trust land at Hudswell.

If you are coming by car take the A6108 from the town centre, heading west towards Marske and Leyburn. After 1/2 mile you will come to a signposted parking area on the south side of the road.

There are information panels with maps in the parking area.

Simply take the footbridge across the Swale from the parking area and you will join the National Trust footpaths on the far bank.

More Photos

About Hudswell Woods, Richmond
Address: A6108, Richmond, Yorkshire, England, DL10 4TL
Attraction Type: Countryside
Location: National Trust car park is on the A6108 just west of Richmond.
Website: Hudswell Woods, Richmond
National Trust - see also: National Trust memberships (official website link)
Location map
OS: NZ153009
Photo Credit: David Ross and Britain Express


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