Tag Archives: North York Moors

A Ramble on the Moors

As I picked my way across the heather-clad moorland following a rocky peat-stained rivulet, I realised I was out with a couple of hardened ramblers – my parents.

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When I’d suggested to them that we do a walk together in the North York Moors, I had in mind a gentle stroll through the patchwork fields of the undulating dales – and maybe – here’s hoping – a teashop at the end to reward us for our efforts.

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My Dad is never without a map on his rambles – an item that I am discovering is definitely more of a necessity than something you might need just in case. Incidentally, if you don’t know how to read grid references have a look here on the Ramblers’ website for how to do it. Basically, to read or take a six-figure grid reference, you start with the eastings, the first three figures along the top, then move onto the northings, the first three figures up – an easy way to remember this is along the corridor and up the stairs.

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So, my Dad had chosen a walk starting out at Hartoft Rigg, a patch of open heather moorland between two forests in the Western part of the North York Moors. You are actually on the other side of Rosedale Abbey here and the walk takes you across moorland, through pastures and the occasional farm, giving you the most fantastic views back across the valleys. The thing I always notice with walks on the Moors is the almost palpable silence – no birdsong even, except the occasional ear-piercing squawk and flapping wings of a pheasant taking flight. Otherwise, absolute stillness.

 

The leaves are looking stunning at the moment. I couldn’t help getting my camera out to capture the coppery, auburn tones especially the beech trees which are looking incredibly vibrant against the dark green of the conifers.

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After a pitstop for a snack, we continued on our way – and into the forest of conifers before reaching a wide track, which was not only a public footpath, but also part of the Moor to Sea Cycle Network, a great cycle route that connects moorland, forests and coastal loops.

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Emerging from the forest we began hunting for a lunch spot – with a view, which we found, just as the drizzling rain started picking up pace, turning into a proper shower. It was over and done with by the time we set off again.

We passed a vast stone merchant yard which we’d actually spotted from across the valley earlier on in the walk. I couldn’t help noticing an old stone propped up by the yard…

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10 Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.

— Ecclesiastes 9:10-12King James Version (KJV)

Sobering stuff eh? Still, the mood didn’t seem too laden here as the diggers moved around, the lads in the yard chatted and pop music drifted out from the radio – the only sounds to break the tranquility of the area.

It had been one of those days where the sky stays a washed-out, pale grey colour – quite appropriate for a moody moorland scene. The sun finally came out, highlighting the gorgeous amber shades of the dale opposite.

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A steep climb through some thick, dense woods took us back onto the road we had parked on…my Mum did mention Hansel and Gretel at this point and asked my Dad if he’d laid down any crumbs of bread to help us find our way home!

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We didn’t quite make it for tea and cake this time – that will have to wait for my next ramble in the moors. Well done Dad on a great walk – I certainly know the difference between a ramble and a walk now.

If you’d like to explore this area yourself, get your walking boots on, grab yourself an OS map and do have a wonderful time in the great outdoors.

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The mystery of Lake Gormire

Even just looking down at Lake Gormire from the top of Sutton Bank, you get a sense of why myths have grown up around it over time.

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Beneath its inky depths lurks a hidden city, the devil or perhaps most chillingly – a bottomless pit. All according to local legend, of course.

Even its name, Lake Gormire, has a mythical, magical ring to it, conjuring up images of the future past scenery of Lord of the Rings or The Hobbit.

Its real life mystery is that it’s one of only two natural lakes in Yorkshire, created by meltwater at the end of the last ice age. Added to this curiosity is that no water flows into or from it so it remains incredibly still. The theory is that it’s fed by an underground spring and drained through a channel below.

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If you fancy exploring Lake Gormire for yourself, park up at Sutton Bank Visitor Car Park. You head out on the Cleveland Way, past the signpost directing you to the best view in England…

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It was vet-turned-author James Herriot who declared the view as the finest in the country.

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The viewing platform points out various landmarks – the spectacular views across the Vale of Mowbray, gliders from the Yorkshire Gliding Club, Roulston Scar, Hood Hill, Menwith Hill, Blubberhouses, Garbutt Wood and Lake Gormire below.

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Further along the Cleveland Way, you take a left turn down a very, and I mean, very steep footpath that cuts through the woodland. On our recent visit it was just Mr B and myself navigating our way down the slope – kids will need a helping hand and it’s a no-go for pushchairs.

However, it’s well worth the hike – the lakeside is one of the most tranquil places I have ever been to with a fantasy fairytale atmosphere.

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Somebody had already been busy here as there were a couple of rope swings hanging from the trees, ready for some fun in the lake for the next young visitors.

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Through the trees we spotted a swan and its cygnets gliding across the water.

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After walking round the lake we braced ourselves for the steep climb back to Sutton Bank and as it was our anniversary, Mr B and I headed for lunch at the very nice Carpenters Arms in Felixkirk, just down the road.

This whole area is steeped in history and folklore. I first read about Lake Gormire, amongst other local places, in a fascinating book called The Plot by journalist Madeleine Bunting. It’s a layered history of one acre of land near the North York Moors. But I think you could discover the same histories on any other acre of land in the UK and beyond.

Have fun if you do decide to visit!

Fresh air and the great outdoors

With three boys I am always on the lookout for ways to have fun outside with them. They have boundless energy and a curiosity to explore. I feel our best times together are when we are outdoors whether walking, camping or frantically digging dams at the beach.

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My boys digging away at the beach

Last weekend the weather was beautiful – bright, dry and crisp – so we were determined to make the most of it. We went on a walk using a great little guide that my parents gave us. Making Tracks is a fun activity walking pack created especially for children. It contains 12 interesting and easy to follow short walks in the North York Moors. Other packs area available covering the Lake District, the Peak District and the Yorkshire Dales.

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Making Tracks activity pack

The design is beautifully hand-illustrated with child-friendly maps and images.

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Lovely artwork

We have done of few of the walks from the packs now and all have been hugely enjoyable. This weekend we did the walk from Thornton-le-Dale to Ellerburn, a beautiful hidden dale with an old church dating back to the 11th century.

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The church at Ellerburn

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Looking back at Ellerburn

The boys had a great time paddling in the stream that the walk follows. But no matter how many times I tell them not to wade too deep, they always seem to get water over the top of their wellies and end up with soggy feet – or worse.

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Ted getting drenched

We have done a few of these walks including Falling Foss, Roseberry Topping and Hutton le Hole and all have been walks that have taken us off the beaten track to enjoy some stunning scenery.

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Roseberry Topping aka Yorkshire’s Matterhorn

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Worth the climb – the view from the top of Roseberry Topping

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The Hermitage at Falling Ross

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I wonder who lives here? A door in the tree at Falling Foss