GEORGE WILKINSON enjoys a snow-muffled walk at Rosedale Chimney Bank.
ROSEDALE Chimney Bank bore two large signs. A blue one read ‘Dangerous Hill’. A red one stated ‘Road Closed due to Wintry Conditions’. So we stopped at the car park at the top on the North York Moors, where all was white and minus six degrees.
Ana Cross half a mile away on the flat of Spaunton Moor was visible from the start and it attracted a couple out walking and a farmer on a quad bike. So the main moorland tracks had a little bit of traffic.
The cross suits the winter, a tall bleak, sombre thing of dark sandstone, exact and strong. The sky promised more joy, held ovals of blue and was slashed with bright cloud edges and, as we headed south, there was a layer of warmer red 20 miles away on the Wolds.
A parley was called for at a quarry that provides the stone for the smooth Land Rover tracks, such as the one we now leaving for a lesser and invisible track. I made a foray, but retreated.
To simplify and to purify the story, my navigator, never one to overcomplicate, suggested we follow the footprints, a single pair of a slightly longer stride than mine and hers, and without much ado we reached a better track.
It’s actually a very nice track that curves round and gradually descends into Rosedale. A length is deeply sunken, though mostly there is a splendid show of the valley. The sun came out to warm a little. The air was, and had been, so still that the conifers were a dusted pale green and there wasn’t a flurry all day.
In 1857 a Mr J Bewick visited Hollins Farm and wrote that in this "beautiful and secluded dale" he found the "great sensation" of, he suggested, "an extensive volcanic dyke of iron ore"; magnetic indeed so watch the compass. This was Rosedale’s first ironstone mine.
Modern Rosedale was very quiet, snow-muffled, not a whisper. Now and then we passed an empty holiday cottage and the River Seven splashed sometimes a field away. After a mile, we met a farmer who forecast blizzards and fed his sheep hay.
The sun at one o’clock had gone below the top edge and the White Horse Farm Hotel was not open until four that weekday. That just left the 400 foot climb up the road, up Rosedale Chimney Bank. Immediately a sign reminded us of the maximum gradient of one in three; a local walker on his constitutional had crampons tied to his sack.
The bank was hard polished snow with grip for us at the edges. But not enough grip for a Ford and a Vauxhall, similar cars, symmetrically stuck, pointing downhill, wedged left and right, at the point of no stopping.
When in doubt look at the map. Check your position at each point. Keep straight on unless otherwise directed.
1. From car park area at the top of the Chimney Bank (‘Welcome to Spaunton Estate’ info board), cross road to good track (signed ‘No Motorcycles or Vehicles’), barrier gate, half a mile.
2. Fork right (info board) up to Ana Cross for 100 yards then return to main track, 400 yards, over track crossroads, gently downhill, 400 yards.
3. At shallow quarry on left the size of a few tennis courts, leave main track and skirt round the southern side of quarry to a lesser track, 300 yards.
4. Turn right onto track, sunken track that curls round and goes down valley side, half a mile.
5. At the ‘bottom’, near Hollins Farm, left to join farm track, fieldgate/gate, a mile.
6. Left to road, steep, uphill.
Distance: Four miles.
General location: North York Moors.
Start: Top of Rosedale Chimney Bank.
Right of way: Public paths and open access.
Date walked: January 2013.
Road route: Via Hutton-le-Hole or Rosedale Abbey.
Car parking: Free car parks, info board.
Lavatories: Rosedale Abbey.
Refreshments: Rosedale Abbey.
Tourist and public transport information: Pickering TIC 01751 473791.
Map: Drawn from OS Explorer OL26 North York Moors western area.
Terrain: Moor and valley.
Please observe the Country Code and park sensibly. While every effort is made to provide accurate information, walkers set out at their own risk.