|Helmsley to Kirkbymoorside (18 km)|
An easy hike through fields takes the route into the woods either side of the attractive Riccal Dale. It then crosses two interesting dips to join a quiet country lane before the descent into Kirk Dale. More woods take you to St. Gregory's Church and past the famed Kirkdale Caves. A last section of fields brings Kirkbymoorside. Another packed lunch day.
|4 Ashdale Road||B&B||01439 770375|
|Carlton Lodge Hotel||Hotel||01439 770557|
|Crown Hotel||Hotel||01439 770297|
|14 Elmslac Road||B&B||01439 770287|
|Griff Farm||B&B||01439 771600|
|Stillwell House||B&B||01439 771072|
|Sproxton Hall (off route)||B&B||01439 770225|
Leave Helmsley from the market square along the road to Pickering (Bondsgate). Turn left at the next junction into Carlton Road and in a few metres right onto a signposted path opposite to the youth hostel. A gate gives access to a field which is crossed to the far left corner. Follow a line of trees in the next field to the left and another gate where you walk uphill (hedge on your right) to arrive at Reagarth Farm. Bear left through the farm and to a road. Cross straight over the road and through a gate to a stile past the hedge on your right. Turn left over the stile to follow the edge of the woods, joining the access road to Rea Garth farm (note the space in the farm name). "Garth" comes from the Old Norwegian "garthr" for enclosure.
Pass through one gate and look for a gate on the right where a path drops steeply down to join a forestry road. Go left for a few metres and then right onto a nice green lane which crosses the River Richal on an impressive metal footbridge. Climb gently to the left along the lane, through 2 gates and then steeply up a grass track to the right. Take the left-hand fork near the top of the climb, passing by a forester's hut in a few metres to the right. Another fork appears less than 5 minutes from the hut. Take the right-hand branch through the remains of a fence with a wall and then Oxclose copse on the right.
|Back down the track through Riccal Dale Wood from near the forester's hut.|
Follow the top edge of Richal Dale Wood to a hairpin bend on a forestry road which leads to the right and across a field to Northfield Lane. There is a good view to your left towards Helmsley Bank. Cross the lane and pass through a gate to walk with a fence on the right. Take the second gate through the fence and down into Pinderdale Howl. In 1990 this was a wilderness of felled trees but should look better by now. "Howl" comes from the Norwegian "hul" for a dry valley ("dale" though is Saxon). Head steeply up the the other side of the howl, through fields and across Beadlam Rigg to drop through firs into Howldale. This is a nice sheltered place for a lunch break before the exposed 3 kilometres to come.
Climb out of Howldale and join Hallifield Lane near the white gate entrance of Nawton Tower. The flat cultivated land over the right-hand fences was once Pickering Lake, the melt-waters that were trapped here at the end of the last Ice Age (15,000 years ago). Glaciers from Scotland, Cumbria and the North Sea surrounded the high moors so that the melt-waters formed the largest lake in England - 48 kilometres by 11 kilometres. Compare this to Lake Windermere's 17 kilometres by 1.6 kilometres. The hedges to your left usually contain a fine display of flowering shrubs.
Continue along the lane to the junction with Skiplam Road where you turn right. Walk for another 15 minutes until past Skiplam Cottages and turn left down the lane to Skiplam Grange. A gate in the right just before the farmyard leads takes you behind the farm buildings along a sunken farm track. This leads down through Skiplam Wood to the ford at Cogg Hole Wath (wath is from the Norwegian "vasse" for ford). There is a precarious footbridge to keep your feet dry if Hodge Beck is high. Turn left along the fence for a few metres and then right, following a line of hawthorn bushes up the field and through a gate into Mell Beck Wood (turn right).
Wander along the edge of Mell Beck Wood to a stile and cross over to the other side of the fence - continue in the same direction. Another stile brings a curved path around to a wide track that leads right to Hold Caldron and it's old mill house. Pause by the bridge to admire the location but do not cross the bridge. Instead go through a gate into Thin Oaks Wood. Climb to forks and take the right-hand branch to a good viewpoint on top of Cat Scar, high above Hodge Beck.. The path descends down to a gate but stay in the woods for a wander inside them to a wide grass track. This forks in a few metres - go right to a gate and over the sometimes dry stream on either a farm bridge or footbridge. The path passes by the historic St. Gregory's Church into a lane.
This delightful spot deserves a few minutes of poking around. There was a church here in the seventh century and perhaps earlier (a monastery founded in 654 by St. Cedd may have been here but the crypt in Lastingham has a better claim). It was destroyed by invading Danes and then rebuilt prior to the Norman Conquest. The church is famous for a Saxon sundial above the south door, beneath the porch.
Turn left on the old Helmsley-Kirkbymoorside road to cross a footbridge at the next ford. On your left is an old quarry containing the famed Kirkdale Caves. If you walk into the quarry then the entrance to the caves is a 1 metre high hole up in the quarry walls. The cave entrance was uncovered by quarry workmen in 1821 and its contents included the bones of lions, bears, elephants, bison, rhinoceros and other animals dating from about 70,000 BC. Given the small entrance and that the bones included those of nearly 300 hyenas, it was concluded that this was once the den of hyenas who dragged the remains of the other animals into the cave.
Continue on to a crossroads where the road ahead can get you into Kirkbymoorside in 15 minutes. For a more interesting end to the day, take the signposted footpath to the left on the Fadmoor Road. Turn right to a stile in the field corner before the path goes through a gate heading for the overgrown Robin Hood's Howl. Follow the hedge on the right then a clear path takes you past Snapes Wood and through fields into a modern housing estate (a bit of a shock after rural surroundings of the last couple of days).