Simon's Visits 2004
A report on finding the actual filming site by Simon Dakin.
My starting point was the information taken from the Follyfoot annual that is on the web at various sites detailing the initial selection of the filming location. I'd then searched for references to Follyfoot and Harewood and found a site about the TV soap Emmerdale where it details all of the locations used on the estate.
Farm Visits - Simons First Four
I got the Ordnance Survey 1:25000 map of the area and had a look for bridle paths in the area mentioned. I was obviously looking for a cluster of buildings but the only other clue I had was that there might be an area of water nearby that is seen in some photographs I'd downloaded. I thought I'd start with the Emmerdale locations on the assumption that they'd perhaps use these for the same reason that they were used for Follyfoot.
My prime target was Bank House farm which is next to Eccup reservoir adjacent to Harewood, used for Emmerdale, next to a stretch of water and with bridle paths running past. I had high hopes.
So a couple of weeks ago I had a drive up (I live in Nottingham a couple of hours south) with the walking gear. Sadly it wasn't right. No buildings matched from the angles I could see from the public paths and they were too far from the water.
I also had a look at many of the other nearby farms used for Emmerdale filming but none looked right in spite of many having the characteristic dark stone and architectural features of the Follyfoot pictures. I had a drive round to the north side of the estate where it borders the River Wharfe but Mill Farm wasn't right either.
With the days still short I hadn't time to walk into the heart of the estate to the farms next to the Fish Pond in Harewood proper which were other contenders.
There is a web page on the Harewood web site that mentions filming on the estate, though not for Follyfoot so I filled in a contact form asking whether the Follyfoot site still existed and whether it could be seen.
All went quiet and then on the 5th of March:
> > Dear Simon,
> > Further to your email of the 14 February, the site of the series > 'Follyfoot' can be seen from the footpath that leads from Harewood > Avenue down past New Laithe Farm. Just below the farm the site can > be clearly seen. It is now a private house. > > Regards,
> > Avril Craig, P.A. to the Resident Agent
New Laithe Farm is to the east of the main road that passes the eastern side of the walled part of the Harewood estate. In retrospect it's obvious that the Harewood lands range in that direction as the very straight Harewood Avenue must once have been a private road forming a grand entrance. BTW the Harewood grounds were laid out by the famous landscape gardener Capability Brown.
So on Monday, 9th March I returned to further explore. I parked in Harewood Village and walked eastwards along the avenue, trying not to get run over by the cars hurtling past. I turned down the tarmac lane that leeds to New Laithe Farm. There was a sign announcing the path was open (it would have been closed during the foot and mouth outbreaks) and another detailing a planning application for the farm. Things did not look very good. It is a hard working farm and there's nothing quaint about it. Earth banks have been bulldozed up along several sides perhaps around slurry lagoons though there were a good number of horses out in a field and a small show ring with little jumps near the farm buildings. There were calves under primitive shelters made from sheets of wood for a roof and supports made from transport pallets. Near the farmhouse the route of the path was not clear and as I looked at the map and then walked a bit to one side I heard the farmer give a shout and on approaching he showed me where the path went and asked me to open the next silver (meaning galvanised) gate into the bottom field where the sheep he'd been dipping were free to now go. Looking at the New Laithe Farm buildings there was nothing to catch the eye, Follyfoot wise. From the email I'd assumed the site should be at or just beyond and below the farm.
Farm Visits - Simons First 5
The path then descended to a small tree lined stream before rising again to a group of very imposing buildings that didn't look Follyfootish in the least. Well I'd planned on doing a circular walk to arrive back at the car so I pressed on.
The path stays to the eastern side of the property but immediately adjacent and as you pass you can see that there are two very distinct types of building. The grand part on the eastern side does look of very recent construction compared to the more rustic farm buildings on the western side. It's clearly a residence, there is no livestock, even horses, to be seen or agricultural machinery. The gardens are walled but you can see the tops of various buildings akin to summer houses and conservatories, one with a grandiose stone bird of prey (or even a griffin) surmounting it.
Farm Visits - Simons second 5
As you pass the light stone coloured hall and see the fish pond beyond the possibilities begin. Over to the right are old farm buildings, one with a tall arch through it and arranged in an L shaped pattern. I hadn't taken any copies of the photographs with me so I wasn't at all certain but it was the best match so far. Of particular consequence is the nearby fish pond which is just the right distance from the buildings. There were Canada Geese pairing off in springtime fashion and coots scurrying about. Along one edge are a number of rather derelict looking jetties that at one time must have been used to board fishing boats. No sign of a lightning tree but plenty of old trees past their prime.
Farm Visits - Simons Third 5
The Hall is called Hollin Hall. It's on Ordnance Survey grid letter SE at 336438. It's on the OS Explorer (1:25000 scale) map sheet 297 titled Lower Wharfedale & Wahburn Valley.
I've scanned the appropriate part so you can see the area. Although the map says it was revised for significant changes in 2003 I'd say that the newer looking buildings are not shown. From the Ordnance survey's web site I've also got an older 1851 map segment for the area that is of interest along with an aerial photograph which I've attached. I'd say the older map shows a larger set of buildings (perhaps even a walled garden) than that shown on the modern map. I'd suggest that the light coloured buildings have been contructed quite recently, perhaps even after the time of Follyfoot. If they had been there already I can't help feeling that they'd have found a use for them in the series. I'm going to try and get in touch with the owners to see of I can photograph the buildings more closely and fill in some of the history.
Nearby are woods which appear to have pens for game birds and coils of new barbed wire awaiting to be strung out. It's clearly an area that favours pheasants though the only one I saw was a cock bird on the verge of the avenue that had been struck by a car - such a shame.
The path rises again before meeting The Leeds County Way footpath and turning west to cross the main A61 and enter the Harewood Estate. They have thoughtfully provided a permissive path which runs north in the wood and which spares you having to walk along the road. As I turned onto the path I took a photo of the sign whilst a lady on horseback was approaching at a walk. We exchanged a hello but it was only afterwards that I realised that the rules for the path exclude horses (and bicycles) and I wonder who the rider was. The path is a joy. There are mainly deciduous trees still without leaves but starting to come into bud. There were birds a plenty including blackbirds, blue tits, great tits, wrens and a rare treat of the goldcrest one of Britains tiniest birds. In the later stages over to the left you can see the top of Harewood House. The path enters the village by a wooden door emerging onto the the main street at the side of a ruined building with the inscription "IMBI 1675". And so after crossing the road I was back to the car. The whole circuit is at most 6km and a beautiful walk. I was unlucky on this occasion not to see some of the Red Kites that have been reintroduced into the area and actively encouraged by the estate after having been all but exterminated, often by gamekeepers, throughout large parts of the UK. I did in fact see one, wheeling overhead, from the car later on.
Afterwards I thought I'd take a look at the nearby village of Follifoot (with an I) less than 10km away where they also have a riding school, livery and forge that prefers to call itself Follyfoot. I've taken a couple of photos of the road signs and riding school sign which I can provide too if you're interested.
I've searched for more information about Hollin Hall but without success. The task is complicated by the fact that there are a number of other Hollin Halls including one at nearby Ripon, perhaps 30km away. Simon Dakin.
Note: Since this article was written Simon and Nik have been back to this location again, it was indeed the Follyfoot Filming Site.
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