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Cleveland Way days 1 and 2 - Helmsley to Osmotherley (2017)

Cleveland Way days 1 and 2 - Helmsley to Osmotherley (2017)

Postby nigheandonn » Fri Jun 01, 2018 7:20 pm

Date walked: 08/04/2017

Time taken: 2 days

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Days 3 and 4 - Osmotherley to Saltburn
Day off - North Gare to Saltburn
Days 5 and 6 - Saltburn to Boggle Hole
Days 7 and 8 - Boggle Hole to Filey

Day 1 - (Edinburgh to York to) Helmsley to Kilburn
Saturday 8th April 2017

A 6:20 train is an unreasonably early start even by the standard of early starts for adventures, but the morning at the other end more or less made up for it - York had reached a state of spring which Edinburgh hadn't quite got to yet, not just massed daffodils on the slopes below the walls, but pink blossom covering the trees.

Spring in York

Having overshot to the south by quite a bit I was soon on a bus north again, through green hedges and very English looking villages - I knew this was going to be a historical day, at least one castle and one abbey, but Bylands Abbey was a surprise to me.

Helmsley had an old market square, now a carpark and overrun with people, and was generally the kind of place which would be lovely if you could see it for the crowds. It's obviously quite posh, despite being approximately in the middle of nowhere, because it has a Fatface - but it also had a bookshop which sold me a Yorkshire Moors map, and a co-op, and a bakers which sold gingerbread persons - I bought a slightly scary one with orange eyes, and a sausage roll, for a very reasonable price.

The main surviving part of the castle is a tudor house with fancy decorated ceilings, but the most impressive part is an older tower - or half a tower, because it was destroyed during the Civil War.

Helmsley Castle

It's not obvious on the map where the Cleveland Way actually begins, since the Tabular Hills walk heads off in the other direction from the same point - I guessed wrong first, then tracked it down on the edge of town. The first signpost is a nice contrast - Rieuvaulx a couple of miles down the road, and Filey at the far end of the trail.

First stop and last stop

A stone sculpture also marks the start, decorated with the names of places I would pass through on the way.

Cleveland Way start

The path starts out over very flat fields, passing a nice little Georgian lodge before dropping down though the woods to the bottom of the river valley, far too broad for its river.

Empty fields

If the Cleveland Way runs in any direction - because half of it goes north, and then it turns round and the other half goes south again - it's west to east (or east to west if you start at Filey), but even that couldn't be trusted, because for the whole of this first day I was walking west.

From Rievaulx bridge I made the detour to the abbey half a mile or so away, up an odd little valley with random temples on the hillside - I felt a bit like I had got into one of those John Buchan stories with an ancient god lurking in the English countryside, but if so they were lurking peacefully today!

Rievaulx Bridge

The abbey is stunningly beautiful, and on a very impressive scale - it couldn't quite swing me from my allegiance to Jedburgh as my favourite (it's on an easier scale to love, and also it has the medieval mouse), but I was very glad I'd gone to see it.

Rievaulx Abbey

From the bridge I was following a tiny road up into a side valley, and to add to the directional confusion, although I knew I was heading for Cold Kirby, when I came to a junction I had to take the road signposted away from it - the road taking a more circuitous route.

My road then swung off to the south, and I carried on along a track past a series of ponds.

Nettle Dale ponds

Another junction brought me into a narrow valley between pinewoods, where all the rooks were shouting at the tops of their voices - a very Scandinavian landscape, and an odd hexagonal shelter made of wood - and smelling of wood - did nothing to dispel that illusion.

Flassen Dale

I wasn't there for long, though - a scrappier path led out the side and onto another farmland track, and then onto a path by the church and into Cold Kirby - which was in fact unreasonably warm, so warm that although it had a very convenient bench I couldn't bear to sit on it, and instead sat down on the ground under a tree, as the only place I could see in the shade.

Cold Kirby

Another lane brought me past Hambleton House and all its horses, and then what was still marked on the map as Hambleton Inn, although it seemed to have been a house for a while - and then for the first time I was on a really moorland path, birch and heather.

Moorland path

The edges at Sutton Bank were, like everything else, deep in heat haze, but it was a stunning view just the same. I'd climbed quite a long way up onto the moor, especially on the pull up to Cold Kirby, but it had still been a long gradual slope - and suddenly all that height was dropping away at once in front of me.

Hazy edges

I followed the detour down towards the Kilburn white horse, and towards Kilburn where I was staying that night, and arrived at the top of the horse very neatly just as the Grand National was being run, announced by the radio of two people sitting there - but as I'd forgotten to pick out a horse for my dad's list the result didn't matter to me, and the white horse isn't much to look at from above, so I headed on quite quickly down the steps, and was very grateful to find an ice cream van in the car park at the bottom!

From there a very winding hill road led steeply down to Kilburn, with a good view back up to the horse from the outskirts of the village.

Kilburn white horse

I had predicted that I would arrive in Kilburn just after 7, but in spite of the late start and the touristing on the way it was just after 6 when I got there - to call this an easy day risks belittling it, but it was a lovely day with nothing difficult or complicated about it.

Day 2 - Kilburn to Osmotherley
Sunday 9th April 2017

Kilburn was a pretty place, and I didn't really want to leave it - I had a lovely broad window sill to sit on in my room, and this spring view from it.

Spring morning

I hadn't really been looking forward to toiling all the way back up the height I'd lost the night before, but it wasn't as bad as I thought it might be, and enlivened with gliders overhead.

The white horse is one of those thing which was once a modern recreation of something historic and has now become historic in its own right - built by a local schoolmaster and his pupils in 1857. The gliding club is presumably less historic, but it's a lovely site for it - scoot off the edge and you're in the sky without any effort of going up - and it was a busy place on a Sunday morning.


A kind of road winds its way up from Kilburn onto the moors, but a much more major road climbs up a bit further on, steeply one way and then the other - it's odd to watch cars climbing a hill, as it's not really their element.

Road up Sutton Bank

The visitor centre at the top of the bank has the usual kinds of information and things to play with, and also some sculptures from a local project - I particularly liked a sheep and a dragon! The wildlife carvings at the entrances were nice as well.

Sutton Bank visitor centre

Gormire Lake was in view on and off along the next section of the walk - Yorkshire is very short of lakes, being mostly so full of holes that all the water just runs out, so the simple fact of its existence is enough to make it famous.

Lake Gormire

This section is generally good solid path with farmland on one side and the drop on the other, busy with walkers and bike riders from the visitor centre. By the little road at Sneck Yate Bank (a lovely name!), things had got quieter, and I found a conveniently shaped rock to sit on to eat my lunch.

For some reason the path drops down from the edge here, leading through woodland before climbing back up to High Paradise Farm - another good name. Signs for a tearoom here had been a pleasant surprise along the path, and it was doing a good trade despite advertising itself as being accessible only by foot, bike or horse. I stopped for a tea and scone break, and was watched closely by a hopeful local inhabitant.

A hopeful friend

Above the farm I joined an old moorland track, no longer a road, as the farmland ran out.

Moorland path

As I walked along here I could here a very strange noise coming up behind me, which turned out to be a man on a bike which sounded as if it was powered by a mouse organ - squeak-squeak-squeak-SQUEAK-SQUEAK, squeak-squeak-squeak-SQUEAK-SQUEAK. (In fact he passed me twice, as I then walked past him in the woods as he was sitting eating an apple, but it wasn't quite so unsettling the second time.)

Through the woods

The woods didn't last long, and then I was back on open moorland, with two long white tyre tracks worn into the grass.


The moorland rose very slowly to a high point by the hill of Black Hambleton, and then fell quite quickly on the other side, down to an old crossroads with another good name, Square Corner.

Looking up to Black Hambleton

Two of the legs are still roads, including, slightly surprisingly, the one which heads across the moors, but the other two - the ways I was taking - are now tracks. As I turned downhill from the edge of the moors the path was now flagged, not the worn line from earlier.

The way down

The path dropped down quite quickly, past little reservoirs onto farm tracks and across fields to another flagged path between fences, then came into the village down an odd twisting back lane, past a Methodist chapel dated 1754 on the lintel.

A nice little place, Osmotherley, with a market cross with a stone table beside it and a village pinfold and an old school, now the village hall, and a nice stone church.

Osmotherley market cross

The hostel is a bit out of the village to the north - a great big building which used to be a mill, almost empty that night. I wandered up and had a rest, and then wandered back down to one of the pubs, where I tasted some raspberry beer - an interesting idea, but I decided that ordinary beer was better!
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