Hackfall

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Hackfall

It was probably sometime towards the end of August 1816 when Turner visited Hackfall, whilst exploring Lower Wensleydale between Ripon and Middleham.  In Turner's day Hackfall was famous as one of the finest and largest wild gardens in Britain. 

Between West Tanfield and Masham, the River Ure cuts a winding route through high ground. Set in a 350ft gorge on the edge of Grewelthorpe, the site was bought in 1731 by John Aislabie, famous for his landscaping work at nearby Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal.  The most dramatic section at Hackfall was laid out as a woodland garden by his son, William, around 1750. There are pathways, grottos, follies, springs, ponds and waterfalls, on a grand scale, and Hackfall was one of the most important managed landscapes of its kind and period in Britain.

The woods are now owned by the Woodland Trust and in the care of the Hackfall Trust, and considerable work has been done since 2002 to recover this 'lost landscape' and to preserve the historic buildings and improve access.  Hackfall is now a Grade 1 registered landscape garden and a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).  The recent restoration work has been made possible due to a grant of almost £1 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund and further grants from the Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Yorventure.

Dogs accepted

Turner's Viewpoint

Turner devoted numerous sketches to exploring the various vantage points along the pathways through the woods, before settling on two subjects to record with very great care in a much larger sketchbook.  The first is a view from Sandbed Hut close to the river, looking downstream to a folly called Mowbray Castle that had been built as part of Aislabie's plan, and this view formed the basis of a finished watercolour 'Hackfall, near Ripon' (The Wallace Collection, London, Wilton number: 536).

The second is from a high viewpoint where Aislabie built an ornamental Banqueting House where his guests could be entertained in front of the panorama of the wooded gorge, taking in the Vale of Mowbray as far as the Hambleton Hills. This too formed the basis of a finished watercolour 'The River Ure at Hackfall, near Ripon' (Private collection)

Discover The Landscape

The Turner Trails bench is located by Sandbed Hut at the site from which Turner sketched.  It can only be accessed on foot.

Hackfall, featuring a reproduction of Turner's painting from Sandbed Hut, is included on the Turner Trails panel at Masham.

Masham to Hackfall - A Walk in the Woods

Download this walking trail which includes the two Turner viewpoints in Hackfall, including Sandbed Hut and the view from the Banqueting House, on this 7¾ or 8½ miles moderate walk with some short, steep sections. You can also visit the Turner Trails bench and panel in Masham Market Place.

Water in Turner's Yorkshire

Download our themed leaflet and let the rivers and waterfalls guide you around Turner's Yorkshire as water literally flows through many of his sketches and paintings.

The Venue

Address:

Hackfall Woods, North Yorkshire HG4 4DY. Car park co-ordinates, 54.193042,-1.648221

Map reference: SE235775 (Turner Trails bench)
SE231775 (Hackfall car park)

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Directions to Hackfall:

Follow the A6108 Leyburn-Ripon road to Masham. Fork into the village and follow Thorpe Road S of Masham for around 2 miles. Car park available at the Masham end of Hackfall

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