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Lion Inn
Great Broughton
Farndale from Middle Head
Farndale from Middle Head.

From the comforts of Lion Inn, there is more easy hiking along the grassy surface of the old Rosedale Ironstone Railway to Bloworth Crossing. A gentle rise to the highest point in the North Yorkshire Moors follows with ancient boundary stones in the heather around you. A steepish descent leaves the moors behind for a forest walk down to Great Broughton. Another packed lunch day.

Blakey Type Phone
High Blakey House B&B 01751 417186
Lion Inn Pub 01751 417320
Stokesley Taxis 01642 712999

Walk through the paddock at the rear of the inn with the campsite to the left and head to the western corner of the field. A gap in the wall leads to a path down to the railway track. Head off west (right) along the rail track. This sweeps around the headwaters of Blakey Gill to a signpost where the Lyke Wyke Walk joins from the right. This tough challenge walk traverses the moors from Osmotherley to Ravenscar on the coast with 64 kilometres to be completed in a 24 hour period. The erosion on some parts of the walk has meant that people are discouraged from doing it in large parties. The name of the walk is taken from an ancient Cleveland dirge which suggests that the souls of the dead are obliged to take a walk across these moors.

The old railway track is open to the moors and in fact was never fenced in. It was cheaper to compensate the farmers for the occasional sheep that slept on the tracks than to fence in 32 kilometres.

In another couple of kilometres the ruins of a watertower are passed. In 1916 a train was completely buried by snow at this point and the crew and a lady passenger had to spend a cold night in a hut here. As you walk along keep an eye out for grouse in the heather around you but you are more likely to hear their calls. A good footpath crosses the track on Farndale Moor. To the left (south), it wanders down into Farndale which is famous for its display of small wild daffodils in the spring (and the hordes of tourists that come to view them). A nature reserve established in 1953 protects the flowers. The name of Farndale may come from the Gaelic fearna (alder). To the right, the path heads up to the source of the River Esk and the ruins of the ancient farmstead of Esklets (once belonging to the monks of Rievaulx Abbey).

Back along the track to Blakey
Back along the track to Blakey

The photo to the left shows the level old railway track contouring around the hillsides, looking back towards Blakey and the Lion Inn.

This is an area that you definitely do not want to be around in winter. It has a well-deserved reputation for heavy snow and wild winds. Snow drifts of up to 6 metres have been reported along the track. If you do find yourself needing shelter from a cruel north-east breeze then there is a low stone wall between Dale Head and Middle Head. A little further on an embankment on Middle Head may give shelter when the wind is from a different direction.

A final sweep over the headwaters of the River Dove on a massive embankment brings the gate at Bloworth Crossing. This was a major crossing with the busy pack-horse pannier-way of Westside Road which still runs along Rudland Rigg to Kirkbymoorside in the south. It is estimated that over 10 million tons of ore travelled over this crossing to the North-East iron and steel industry. Now it is an isolated, peaceful junction with moors all around. We now join the Cleveland Way which comes down the right-hand dirt track and follow its course until past Osmotherley.

Go straight ahead past a seat and another gate. Leave the good walking along the railway track for a rougher track on the left (south) that drops to a boggy crossing of High Bloworth Beck and then climbs to drier terrain on Cockayne Head. This wide track passes the scanty remains of a trod (Smuggler's Trod) hidden in the heather on the right, a track departing to the left and then a pond at the head of Hodge Beck (also on the left). Further on the right, two fine boundary stones are passed. First there is the Face Stone with a Celtic-style engraved face which is mentioned in a 1642 survey of the boundaries of Helmsley Estate and so must be even older. The second stone is known as the Hand Stone and has a rough carving of a hand on two sides. Two eroded inscriptions read "This is the way to Stoxla" and "This is the way to Kirbie". Stoxla is now Stokesley (11 kilometres to the north-west) and Kirbie is Kirkbymoorside. The stone probably dates from 1711.

A thin path departs just past the Hand Stone for the few metres to and from Round Hill - the highest point in the North Yorkshire Moors (454 metres). The white stone Ordnance Survey pillar is sited on top of an ancient stone barrow.

At the next fork, take the right branch down the gently dropping track with many boundary stones and cairns to either side. The track meets a wall at a small gate. Pause to look left (south) at the prehistoric earthworks that run for 4 kilometres along the sharp escarpment of Carr Ridge. Through the gate there is a sharp drop and a crag which can be avoided by sticking close to the wall. Another gate leads still steeply down to the road at Clay Bank Top. Turn right along the road to a car park with good views and the possibility of refreshments. During levelling work for this carpark in 1969, the remains of a Bronze Age cemetery and crematorium were uncovered.

The shortest route to Great Broughton is to follow the road all the way into the village. The road however is fairly boring, has narrow verges and can be busy with traffic speeding downhill. The better route is to go through the forest. Go through a gate a few metres down on the left of the road and turn right onto a forestry road. Follow the easy track over a crossroads as it drops easily and passes a turn on the left. At a sharp corner by a set of steps climbing the hillside, turn right and descend steeply to enter Bank Lane. Continue straight ahead for a kilometre to join the main road with the village another kilometre away.

The toughest but most scenic option from Clay Bank Top is to continue along the Cleveland Way for a hard climb up to the top of Hasty Bank. There are panoramic views as the path skirts the vertical edge of the bank and heads west. It arrives at the rock pinnacles of the Wainstones after a kilometre. The Wainstones are a scattering of large boulders around a couple of rock pillars (10 metres high) and a rocky 15 metre cliff. These provide one of the few local rock climbing areas, so expect to see people clambering all over them. Drop through the boulders into Garfit Gap and then climb steeply to the top of Cold Moor. Pause here for the views south into the moor (and to gain your breath) before dropping again through fields and a gate to a pair of stone posts. To get to Great Broughton, reverse the beginning of the next day's walk. Note that this option will add nearly 6 kilometres to the length of the walk.

You can avoid returning to civilisation at Great Broughton by turning into the moors where a nearby farm (Holme Farm) provides a camping site and is just a kilometre the other way along the road. The farmer provides a field, some provisions and a well-maintained toilet. The hamlet of Chop Gate is 3 kilometres further down the road (2 miles from Clay Bank) and has some B&B spread around the countryside.

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