With nothing planned after Hogmanay, Emily and I headed down to stay with the family in Northallerton for a few days. Unfortunately a couple of the Yorkshire folk had been suffering with bad colds and, sure enough, now so was I...
Nevertheless, we were keen to make the most of our short stay and hopefully get in a bit of a walk. A quick scan through Ken Wilson's Classic Walks revealed a fairly easy (but fairly long) dander along the edge of the North York Moors. What I didn't realise at first was that the start and finish were only a short drive from Northallerton - excellent! The weather was looking like it was going to be best on Saturday so I did my best to recover from the 'man flu' and stop feeling sorry for myself.
|Red morning winter sky over Roulston Scar, North York Moors|
|Sutton Bank from Roulston Scar, North York Moors|
|Kilburn White Horse, North York Moors|
Sure enough, the weather turned out grand yesterday and we were kindly offered a lift to Sutton Bank - perfect. We also managed to persuade Richard to join us; an unexpected bonus. The route described in Classic Walks starts closer to Kilburn and approaches the Kilburn White Horse from the South but, as we were already at Sutton Bank, it made sense to simply head along and back again. After all, it would be silly not to take in this Yorkshire landmark. It was an extremely mild morning for January and the sun was still low in the sky; occasionally peaking out from the clouds in the winter sky above Roulston Scar. As we passed the pilots, who were readying their gliders at the Yorkshire Gliding Club, we had a great view of the huge limestone outcrop and Hood Hill.
|Kilburn White Horse, North York Moors|
|A glider being towed over Roulston Scar, North York Moors|
|A Kestrel hovering over Sutton Bank, North York Moors|
We were soon standing at the White Horse and gazing down the steep slopes towards its nose. It really is a strange attraction, but if you are in the area then it is well worth the visit. Apparently it was created in 1857 by a school master (John Hodgson) and his pupils by clearing the topsoil, exposing the limestone underneath and then covering with limestone chips. After taking the time to admire the view, we headed back along the Cleveland Way to Sutton Bank and had the pleasure of a Kestrel hovering above us.
|Roulston Scar from Sutton Bank, North York Moors|
|Richard and I in front of Roulston Scar and Hood Hill, North York Moors|
|Heading through Cliff Plantation, North York Moors|
From Sutton Bank we headed along above Sutton Brow and around the edge of Cliff Plantation. The trail was a little muddy in places around the trees but in pretty good condition, considering the time of year. We stopped at the viewpoint to admire Gormire Lake and to gaze down Whitestone Cliffe (the home of the classic climb: The Night Watch VS 4b***). Looking back towards Roulston Scar, the first Glider was being towed into the sky. Pressing on, we passed by Hambleton Mosses above Boltby Scar and along by the sheep at High Barn. We crossed the road and into the woods at Sneck Yate, were we found a nice spot for a rest and a munch. As we sat enjoying our rolls, what can only be described as: "A True Yorkshireman" walked past us with his two dogs - magic!
|Gormire Lake from above Garbutt Wood, North York Moors|
|Whitestone Cliff, North York Moors|
|Tourists... and sheep, North York Moors|
Now refreshed, we headed up the hill along the road to High Paradise Steading (just before the Hambleton Road) where we encountered some more locals: two rather large pigs and three alpaca. We then got our first real feeling of 'The Moors' as we headed alongside Dale Town Common and the landscape seemed very flat, barren and erie. We chatted about what it must have been like for the Drovers who used this route all those years ago, even throughout the harsh winters - a tough way of life indeed. We also passed a few mountain bikers who were struggling to negotiate the rather muddy sections in the forest; it didn't look like much fun for them at all and this only spurred us on.
|Pigs at High Paradise Steading, North York Moors|
|Alpaka at High Paradise Steading, North York Moors|
|Dale Town Common, North York Moors|
Looking ahead to the summit of Black Hambleton, we paused for our second rest stop of the day. As we sat there munching, we had an amazing vista to the West over towards the Yorkshire Dales. It was still mild, but there was a slight chill in the light breeze so we soon moved on to the final leg. We rounded the edge of Arden Great Moor before heading down towards Thimbleby Moor. On the descent, the view really opened up over the magnificent Moors - a stunning place. Then down a new path and into the trees past Upper Oak Dale reservoir. We noticed that the water supply was almost dry; a bit of a shock considering it has been one of the wettest winters for a good few decades. Despite all the rain it certainly looks like a hosepipe ban is on the cards, if the water level here is anything to go by...
|Looking West from Little Moor, North York Moors|
|Emily enjoying the Cleveland Way, North York Moors|
|Richard enjoying the Cleveland Way, North York Moors|
Exiting Oak Dale onto the road, we took the track up the short incline to Whitehouse Farm. This was the only part where the nav was a little tricky; but luckily Emily spotted the sign. After crossing the burn and heading up the steps at Middlestyre Bank we came out through a gate at the top to bee greeted by a magnificent winter evening sky - stunning. Finally we followed the Cleveland Way through the narrow nooks and crannies out into the main square of the rather picturesque village of Osmotherly. A truly inviting sight - especially having the choice of three excellent watering holes.
|Looking Southwest from Arden Great Moor above Whitestone Scar, North York Moors|
|Looking Northeast across Snilesworth Moor from below Black Hambleton, North York Moors|
|Heading down towards Oak Dale, North York Moors|
We opted for the Golden Lion to celebrate and reflect on a great day. Certainly not a difficult walk, but we were all quite tired as the 14 miles had taken a fair toll. The walk had been full of very diverse terrain and landscapes and we all felt we had experienced many aspects of the North York Moors. A Classic Walk for sure.