|Hambleton Inn to Osmotherley (19.5 km)|
Walls and moor at White Gill Head
Another fine day greeted me in the morning - like most of the days on this walk, this was not early in the morning (I generally started off about 9 am). I packed up my tent and plonked it at the bottom of my pack since it was not going to be used again unless I could not get accommodation.
|Hambleton Inn||Pub||01845 597202|
The Cleveland Way goes a couple of hundred metres along the road and then dives into woods along a track beside the enigmatic Eastern Dike earthworks - part of a set of dikes in the area which archaeologists do not know when or for what purpose they were constructed. Back onto the escarpment, I paused for a moment to look at the view and then turned right to follow the edge to Sutton Bank.
The track continues past the Sutton Bank Visitor Centre through woods (Cliff Plantation) to open out with green fields stretching to the right. There are good views down to dark waters of Gormire Lake (the only sizeable natural lake in the North Yorkshire Moors) and from the top of Whitestone Cliff. The track then takes a wide arc above the South Woods. If you want to get closer to Gormire Lake or to look up at the cliff then there is a nature trail descending from near the Great Relief Pot (great name!) pothole that seems to rejoin the Cleveland Way beyond Whitestone Cliff - check this at the visitor centre.
Boltby Scar with the scanty remains of an Iron Age fort (a grass-covered mound and ditch) is the next point of interest. There is also a "windypit" out in the fields - a fissure in the limestone that usually leads to a small cavern or pit. These were used by the Beaker people (about 2000 BC) as temporary winter homes and burial pits. Remember to avoid the edge of Boltby Quarry by passing through a gate to the other side of a stone wall.
Past High Barn the track descends slightly to pass through a gate in the wall and later reaches Sneck Yate - "yate" is a local word for gate and is pronounced as 'yat'. The road here is crossed straight over and an often muddy forest track taken through a plantation down a gentle slope. Soon Low Paradise Farm is reached (Hell Hole is nearby of course) and a farm road takes the Cleveland Way up through more plantation and past High Paradise Farm to join the Hambleton Road. Despite the name this is a wide green track with only a few tarmac sections further south. It is also known as Hambleton Street further north and as the Drove or Drovers' Road since its most recent use was when Scottish drovers brought their cattle from Scotland to the markets in Malton, York and as far south as London. However the route has been in use for thousands of years - artefacts from the Bronze Age and possibly earlier have been found along its course.
The eastern edge of Boltby Forest is followed for about a kilometre until the track emerges through a gate onto the wide expanses of Little Moor. On either side there are interesting remains. To the right is the shaft of Steeple Cross - one of over 30 named moorland crosses on the North York Moors, the earliest of which (Lilla Cross on Fylingdales Moor) was raised in the 7th century. Over the stone wall on the left is one of the few long barrows (burial mound) of the New Stone Age (4300 BC to 2000 BC) on the moors. These long barrows are vastly outnumbered by the round barrows of the Bronze Age (often marked as tumuli or tumulus on the maps).
The Cleveland Way follows the stone wall at first towards the north-west and then to the north. I entered familiar territory where a dirt track crossed the Cleveland Way. On a previous walk I had started from Danby (on the Esk Valley Railway) and travelled south along the moorland edge before branching off here to Hawnby in the east. The path continues north to White Gill Head before turning left along the side of Black Hambleton.
|Dropping down from Black Hambleton|
The descent from Black Hambleton is where the limestone country is left and you begin to walk over sandstone, grits and shale. The track reflects this by becoming quite rough for about 500 metres during the steepest part of the drop. Before descending you may want to take a side-track up to the broad top of Black Hambleton for a better view over Oak Dale to the distant roofs of Osmotherley. The unfenced Osmotherley to Hawnby road is met briefly at a sharp corner and the Cleveland Way drops left through bracken past Jenny Brewster's Spring (fenced off). Down below you is the wooded setting of Oak Dale Reservoir and another glimpse of Osmotherley. The level wooded area at the head of the reservoir is a restful spot for a break.
The path joins a track along the north side of the reservoir and follows it down to the lower reservoir past the restored Oak Dale House. After Slape Stones Beck the track heads uphill through woodland and fields to regain the Osmotherley to Hawnby road. A side-road a few metres downhill is followed to White House Farm where the Cleveland Way leaves the road to cross farmland down into the wooded dale of Cod Beck. The main street of Osmotherley is gained via a short climb up the other side of the beck, a stroll across fields to reach a sheep sneck (two pillars set close together to form a stile) and a passageway straight across Beck Lane that leads past some nice cottages into the centre of Osmotherley. There are some nice photos of the village at FotoFree (UK Towns).
Facing you is the small village green with a market cross and a stone table on stubby legs. On your left is the parish church and (perhaps more importantly) beyond the church is the Queen Catherine pub which offers accommodation as well as good beer and food. You should try to arrive here mid-week since the village is popular with day-trippers. If you are heading for the youth hostel then don't relax too much - it is about a kilometre away up a gentle incline. To get there follow the lane to your right (signposted to Swainby), pass two lanes branching to the left and take the next lane on the right - this passes a camping ground as it gets to the youth hostel at Cote Ghyll.
I wandered up to the Osmotherley Youth Hostel and booked in. That evening I strolled in the dusk back into the village to the Queen Catherine where I had a good meal and listened to a group playing jazz.