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Country walk at Bransdale
GEORGE WILKINSON does the ‘silly walk’ to keep himself warm at Bransdale.
MOOREND is on the southern edge of moorland but this is not much of a heather walk. We turned away and took the Bransdale Road, trying to get warm, doing the silly walk.
There was nobody up here but a couple of utilities workmen fixing the power, who laughed that at least they got paid for freezing.
Then we got to Hope Inn Farm, which is not an inn, but there is an extensive collection of old farm stuff.
Boon Hill, the dominant local landmark, showed smooth to the south. To the north is Hunger Hill. We passed above a long Arts and Crafts-styled house named Stonely Woods. Below us lay Sleightholme Dale, a pearl of a valley that gave a lovely welcome, down across silver-frosted pastures.
There by the river is Penny Holme, a house described by Sir Nicolaus Pevsner as “an informal group of moderate size, entirely in the regional vernacular”, yes, and quite as pretty as its name, with a garden of rhododendrons.
We paralleled Hodge Beck, the icy river, with frozen falls, icicles, and rocks crusted white. And note there is a concrete river ford, so do not chance it after heavy rain or snow melt.
A pair of solid deer bounced through a lacy birch wood and we climbed out to Ankness Ridge, which offers a long look north towards Bransdale.
Just off the ridge, in 1715, Mathew Foord, the Duncombe Park land agent and father of the great water engineer Joseph Foord, sank three shafts for coal, an industry that spread across the moors.
The buildings of Ankness Farm are interesting. Houses of the North York Moors, a Royal Commission publication, has it that there was an 18th century “kitchen with a men’s room over”, so the male workers were kept warm without need of a fireplace, plus they had their own staircase.
So, we must hope, avoiding the ‘obvious dangers’ of mixing them with the female workers. Concerning this, when reading Water From The Moors, The Life And Works Of Joseph Foord, by Isabel Anne Mclean, I learned that Mathew Foord was accused by the Quakers of Kirkbymoorside of ‘disorderly walking’, which was little to do with walking.
So that was something to mull over on the quiet open road, a length of very orderly walking, asphalt over the heather, free-range sheep, on the Bransdale Road again. It is an easy last leg, especially if the light is fading.
The road passes Rudland Farm and Rudland House, which carry the local name, and Bog House which is on the line of one of Foord’s waterways.
At the car park a few flakes of snow flurried and by midnight there were six perfect inches.
When in doubt look at the map. Check your position at each point. Keep straight on unless otherwise directed.
1. From free parking area at Grid Reference SE660926, on left-hand curve in road where track leads straight on (Nawton Towers info board). South to road, 300 yards cattlegrid.
2. Metalled drive on right at bench and noticeboard (fingerpost), 200 yards, track on left, 25 yards, stile/fieldgate (waymark).
3. Track on right between house and barn, past more machinery, then by wood. Stile/fieldgate into wood, track downhill, pass above old school house.
4. At bridge on bend, path on right (waymark post), by fence, 25 yards, fork left, under pines and behind large house.
5. Gate out of wood (waymark), 11 o’clock downhill, 50 yards, stile, 20 yards (waymark), 11 o’clock to wall corner (waymark), 50 yards by wall, fieldgate (waymark), downhill by wall to your left, stile (waymark) 1 o’clock, 100 yards, (waymark post in old boundary), downhill by wire fence, gap (waymark) cross field.
6. Stile (waymark) and cross track to path down through heather, right to metalled drive (signed Pennyholme), ford/footbridge. Just before house fork right (waymark post). Becomes stone track.
7. At tracks junction fork left downhill (waymark), stone bridge over river, 50 yards, right to track gently uphill, gates, wood edge.
8. At left-hand corner take lesser track on right (no sign) 50 yards, stile/pair of gates (waymark, fingerpost) and immediately sunken path on right downhill, left at river, plank footbridge over side stream.
9. Concrete ford on right (fingerpost) and immediately track on left (fingerpost), immediately bridge over side stream and immediately fork right uphill. At left-hand bend fork right uphill (white painted post), grass track in woods.
10. Stile/fieldgate into field (waymark), 50 yards, by wall to your right, grass track, fieldgate (waymark), dirt track, fieldgate (waymark).
11. Pair of metal fieldgates into farm, pass farmhouse to your right (some waymarks), left-hand bend and ignore the drive on the right, stay on track. Fieldgate into field, track.
12. Right to road.
Distance: Six miles.
General location: North York Moors.
Start: Moorend, Bransdale.
Right of way: Public.
Date walked: February, 2012.
Road route: Via Kirkbymoorside and Fadmoor.
Car parking: Free parking area, Grid Reference SE 660926.
Refreshments: Inn at Gillamoor, inns and cafés at Kirkbymoorside.
Tourist and public transport information: Helmsley TIC 01439 770173.
Map: Drawn from OS Explorer OL26 North York Moors western.
Difficulty: Moderate if weather is, and has been, fine.
Please observe the Country Code and park sensibly. While every effort is made to provide accurate information, walkers set out at their own risk.