|Lastingham to Levisham (12 km)|
The best day for beer-lovers since the walk passes through Cropton with its brewery/pub - the New Inn. Otherwise the highlight of the day is a visit to the unique Roman training camps on High Saintoft. Later in the day the North York Moors Railway line (Grosmont to Pickering) is encountered for the first time. Lunch can be had at the New Inn (about 2 hours from Lastingham) or in Newton-upon-Rawcliffe (4 hours away). An alternative is to take a packed lunch for a atmospheric picnic at the Roman camps.
|Blacksmith's Arms||Pub||01751 417247|
|Lastingham Grange Hotel||Hotel||01751 417345|
|New Inn Farmhouse (Spaunton)||B&B||01751 417642|
Take the Cropton road from the Lastingham post office until out of the village. The last house is Gander Green and there is a signposted footpath on your right just past it. Stiles and a footbridge over Ing Beck take your through fields parallel to the beck with Hagg Wood on the right. The last field is long and a bit tedious when freshly ploughed. Cross over a stile into Howldale Lane and turn left. The lane curves around to Lower Askew farm where there is a choice of routes.
If there has been heavy rain then the weir on the River Seven by Appleton Mill Farm may not be passable. In this case the lane going past Lower Askew Farm should be taken. This is 1.6 kilometres of nice walking into Cropton along a fairly quiet lane.
Otherwise turn right over a stile on a signposted footpath with a fence to your left. Scarth Wood is entered after the second field and the path keeps to the left (ignore a fork to the right) on top of a tree-covered bank. The wood is left for a field which curves to the west with the woods on your right. Go through a gate into the farmyard of Appleton Mill Farm and follow the farm road left to the River Seven and the weir that forms a duck pond. Cross straight over and then left through the next field where a gate brings you into Low Lane. Head straight along the lane, ignoring the farm track to the right. Leave the lane on the right about ten metres past the next gate for a thin track climbing steeply up an small overgrown valley. A stile leads into a hedged lane which goes left to join Bull Ing Lane. Cropton village is off to the left.
|High Farm||B&B||01751 417461|
|New Inn||Pub, B&B||01751 417330|
|Rose Cottage Farm||B&B||01751 417302|
I had my morning break here, sampling a couple of half-pints of the pub's good ale (Cropton's Best and Cropton Strong).
On leaving the New Inn, cross the road and follow the main street through the village, passing the post office and St. Gregory's Church on the left. The remains of a motte and bailey stand on Hall Garth Hill opposite St Gregory's Church. Turn right down a farm track at the end of the village and walk past Dalewood Farm. The lane ends at a gate into a field which is crossed diagonally left to a stile into a caravan site. Pass through the site and back onto the road (turn right). Ten minutes hiking brings the turn-off to Keldy and five minutes more brings the entrance to the Roman camps. This great (and free) diversion is strongly recommended.
|Exit from camp D|
The embankments and ditches in the woods form four camps around which there are waymarked routes. At first it was thought that all four camps were occupied by a large force for the protection of the Roman road that the walk takes the next day. But the size of the camp is much too big and it is located a fair distance from the road. Finally the archaeologist Sir Ian Richmond conducted extensive excavations in the 1930's and came to a fascinating conclusion. The camps were actually used for the training of legionaries (the fighting men of the Roman army with the status of Roman citizens) in the art of building camps. Around 90 AD, either one or two cohorts (each consisting of 480 soldiers) from the Ninth Legion based in York established a rough camp while they built a regulation camp nearby with ditches, embankments and wooden palisades. Afterwards they completely destroyed it. Around 100 AD, another three cohorts arrived to make camp at the far east of the site - doing their training on a camp at the far west of the site (this was abandoned rather than demolished). The style of both "living" camps suggests that there was no danger expected and no actual warfare was involved.
The camps are thought to be unique within the known Roman world. The remaining earhworks are impressive and there is a nice view over Cawthorne Banks down into fields and woods.
On leaving the camps turn left to continue along the road. When the road bends north at Beech Cottage, continue ahead on a cul-de-sac lane past Saintoft House to the gates of Cooks Grange. Go straight ahead on a footpath, climbing up through undergrowth to West Dike Road which is crossed to the left and a gate. When the field boundary on your left ends, continue along the same line over a field crest and onto a farm track. The farm track ends on Keld Lane - follow this into the village of Newton-upon-Rawcliffe. In the middle of the village is a large green and a once-busy duck pond with the Mucky Duck (previously the White Swan) pub on the far side (beside Swan Cottage which serves refreshments). The enormous number of ducks that used to reside in the pond were relocated and culled back to a measly 5 ducks (no drake!) in 2001 (see this article).
|The Mucky Duck||Pub||01751 472505|
|Swan Cottage||B&B||01751 472502|
Go left (north) through the village and bear right into a hedge-lined lane. Soon depart left over the next stile to a memorial seat with a splendid view. The seat is in memory of two cousins who served in the Royal Armoured Corps during the Second World War. The view is down into the now peaceful valley of Pickering Beck. However, 15,000 years ago a boiling torrent of melt-water from the glaciers over Esk Valley poured through this dale. The waters gouged out the 120 metre high walls of the Newton Dale gorge (traversed on the next day's journey). If you are lucky then you will be treated to the sounds, sight and smell of a steam-hauled train on the Grosmont to Pickering line below you.
From the seat, drop down to cross the loop of a hairpin bend in the track below. Descend steeply on a muddy slope making your course midway between two railway signals in the distance (parallel to the hedge on your right). Bear right at the nearest clump of trees though more trees to a footbridge, lane and the railway crossing. Follow the lane past the Grove House Hotel and turn right onto a signposted footpath. This climbs fairly steeply through the pleasant Levisham Woods and emerges in fields about halfway up the hill. Head up the field (hedge on your left) to a barn and head right to join the grassy line of an old tramway which climbs steeply. When the tramway drops to the left at a seat, bisect the angle to take a lower path to a stile in the right-hand corner of the field. Cross the stile and turn left (placing the trees in Keldgate Slack at your back). Continue straight ahead onto a lane that enters Levisham near its church.
If you are heading off to the youth hostel at Lockton then it is another 2 kilometres away on the road to the right.