Penhill Park was one of the seven deer parks belonging to the Medieval Lordship of Middleham. When first mentioned in documents dating to 1465 it is recorded as being a ‘new park’. The park was stocked with deer for hunting and venison and would once have had a hunting lodge placed on a high point where the lord’s men could keep an eye out for poachers. By the later middle ages, such deer parks were mainly given over to the grazing of cattle and occasionally sheep. Penhill Park was enclosed in 1779 and this resulted in the pattern of rectilinear stone walled fields that can be seen today.
Location Take Grassgill Lane which leads off to the south from West Witton Main Street close to the eastern edge of the village. Head south on Grassgill Lane. After a little more than a half mile the road starts to climb steeply through a series of sharp bends; left first, then right then left again. Take track by the NW corner of the farm: the sign post says "Penhill Quarry". After walking due west for a little more than 100 metres the track bears round to the south; it goes on in that direction for a further 100 metres. By this time it has become a walled lane called Flint Lane. The track comes round to the west again and continues, climbing steadily for something more than a half mile. Eventually you will come to a ruined building that forms part of the south wall. A good view of the park to either side of the lane may be had from this point. The view actually gets better if you continue a little way along the track.
Public Transport Details Nearest town/village: West Witton. Call Traveline on 0870 608 2 608 to plan your journey. After the welcome message key in 885 for North Yorkshire information.
Accessibility The start of the track is level but muddy, it is used by farm vehicles and is quite deeply rutted, i.e. there is a strip of grass between two, often waterlogged, furrows. At one place a stone culvert has been damaged but not repaired: one slab is no longer horizontal but lies at an angle: there is a danger of falling through. The lane climbs steadily but is nowhere steep. Total ascent is about 60 metres