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Lion Inn
Great Broughton
Upper Oak Reservoir
Over upper Oak Reservoir towards Osmotherley from Jenny Brewster's Spring.

The wooded reservoirs of Oak Dale takes you from Osmotherley village onto the moors to join an old drovers' road. After two kilometres, Old Kepwick Way (an unpaved road) drops down into Ryedale via an interesting arc through woods and fields around Comb Hill. This short day could be combined with the next day (an early start would get you to Hawnby for lunch) for a total of less than 29 kilometres. However this would limit any exploration of the Rievaulx Abbey ruins.

Osmotherley Type Phone
4 Belle Vue Cottages B&B 01609 883435
Cote Ghyll Caravan Park Camping 01609 883425
Osmotherley YH 0870 770 5982
Osmotherley Walking Shop B&B 01609 883818
King's Head Hotel Pub 01609 883207
Oak Garth Farm B&B 01609 883314
Queen Catherine Hotel Pub 01609 883209
4 School Lane B&B 01609 883706
Vane House B&B 01609 883448

The day starts in the village square of Osmotherley. Have a look at the old Butter Cross with a stone slab nearby that was probably used to display garden produce when the village was a bustling market town. Turn into the "ginnel" or narrow alley behind the war memorial. This squeezes past several quaint stone cottages to the Methodist chapel which is thought to be one of the oldest in the country (note the date of 1754 above the door). Cross the lane into a hedge-lined lane, following the Cleveland Way. Enter the field at the lane end via a real squeeze through a stile and cross the field to a stepped descent into a wooded dale. Over a footbridge a steady climb rises up the hill to White House farm, passing a waymarked electricity pole. Parallel the farm access track until a stile lets you into a lane where you turn right. At the junction with the main road, turn left for a few metres and then right (south-east) onto a wide grassy track. This drops down through two fields into woods before a stone bridge and the first Oakdale reservoir.

The two Oakdale reservoirs were built in 1891 and 1910 to supply Northallerton.

A clear track heads up the dale to the upper reservoir (passing the Oak Dale farmhouse) and further to a stream and footbridge in the woods at the head of the reservoir. This is a good spot for a morning break. Cross the footbridge and follow a path up steps through the bracken to the fenced-off Jenny Brewster's Spring where the photo above was taken (you can just see the fence in the lower right corner). This first steep climb ends at a sharp corner in the Osmotherley-Hawnby road. Expect to see a few cars parked in this scenic and accessible spot. Turn right onto the old drover's road (last met at Scarth Gap) and rise up the slopes of Black Hambleton with the Black Hill plantation on the right. This starts off gently but is steep and rough near the top. If you want to visit the summit of Black Hambleton then follow the tractor tracks near the cairn on the hill crest to the trig point (399m).

Into the Vale of Mombray from White Gill Head
Into the Vale of Mombray from White Gill Head

The track is much easier past the cairn and becomes grassy and wide as it sweeps down to White Gill Head. It now hikes like its name of Hambleton Street on the map with the limestone underneath quickly draining any water (no mud!). This passage was known to both Bronze Age man and the Romans. Turn right at the White Gill Head junction to continue to follow the wall on your right. Pass an old quarry and then the ruins of Lime Kiln House which was once a thriving drover's inn. It last had a beer-selling licence in 1879.

The next junction is your last chance for a look over the level patchwork of the Vale of Mowbray to the far-off Yorkshire dales of Swaledale and Wensleydale. Depart left onto the Old Kepwick Way, leaving a nice grass surface for a harder dirt road. Ahead is the wide expanse of Little Moor with the green trees of Thorodale Wood showing in the dale to the left of the road. Also to the left are some signs of local quarrying. The road meets a corner of the woods and continues with the stone wall of Thorodale Wood to the left. Continue past a farm road and quarry on the right until just opposite the gates to Arden Hall.

If you are in a hurry to get to Hawnby for shelter or refreshment then just follow the road (now tarmaced) right into the hamlet.

Otherwise take a farm track which rises to the right through fir woods. This is a permissive path, not a right-of-way (but one starts another 200 metres down the road and joins this path). The track emerges into a meadow and skirts around the base of Coomb Hill with some damp spots where it crosses streams. Leave the track when it turns sharply uphill on the other side of Coomb Hill, through a gate onto a fenced track through Calf Wood. This track sweeps down through a field past a waymarked power pole to meet the road again by the elegant Church Bridge over the River Rye.

Turn right across the bridge and then right again down Church Walk to visit the little Church of All Saints. Poke your head in to see the unusual stained-glass west window that pays tribute to the war dead of the parish, including four German airmen who were "killed in action over Hawnby, 17 December, 1942".

"Up-town" Hawnby is up the lane to your right (Hawnby Hotel) and right again at the nearby junction. "Down-town" Hawnby is along the lane to your left (post office/shop).

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