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A walk around Goathland to visit Simon Howe
One of the trains on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway which will roar past as you make your way to Moorgates
THERE are more than 2,000 howes on the North York Moors standing as landmarks on the high ground.
Most are burial chambers containing the interred remains and personal belongings of people from the bronze age.
Many of these howes were roughly excavated by opportunists looking for valuable items, others were sympathetically investigated by responsible historians.
As well as the excavations for artefacts, some of the construction stones from the howes were taken for road making.
In his book ‘Forty Years in a Moorland Parish’, the Rev Atkinson describes his methods of sympathetic excavation. His helpers were known to call their days of digging as ‘having a day out with the parson’.
The working party consisted of Rev Atkinson and his wife and two or three of his elder sons, a couple of friends and some working men.
The reverend would mark the excavation out for digging and when anything was thought to be found, he would carefully remove it himself, getting on his knees and feeling around for remains.
Evidently, most Howes had been tampered with or excavated previously but he rarely had a dig that did not reveal something that others had missed or considered to be of no value.
In his years of digging on the moors, the Rev Atkinson uncovered 43 cinerary urns, some as large as 24 inches high.
He also found jet beads, polished axe hammers, bone pins and flint objects, including arrow heads. Most of his finds were given to the British Museum.
This walk takes us onto the high moors around Goathland to visit Simon Howe, but don’t bother taking a spade – it was robbed a very long time ago.
Leave the car park and walk towards the village, at the T-junction go left.
Opposite the garage take the wide bridleway alongside the pub, this is the old railway track.
Continue straight ahead at all times on the track passing through the occasional gate until in one-and-a-half miles you arrive at the end of the railway track at Moorgates. Exit onto the road through the gate and go right.
Walk along the grass verge up the hill, then round a left bend and in about 30 metres you will see a bridleway signpost on your left, pointing across the moor onto a narrow path.
Take this route across the heather, then continue through bracken bearing left past a boggy area to soon reach a small stream. Turn right here across a rickety old wooden footbridge.
Take care, it does look a bit unsafe.
If you have taken a slightly different path you may arrive at stepping stones instead of the bridge. Either is okay.
Follow the path, bearing right through another boggy area with bracken and soon you pass a stone sheep bield. Bear left here, then right towards the left edge of the hill in front of you to walk round the edge on a clay, eroded path.
The path is undefined for some time now but head towards the ridge always bearing slightly left.
You will see a wide path in the distance, head for this at all times.
The route goes across a patch of burnt-off heather, then reaches growing heather. Find the narrow part through the heather onto open scrub, then soon you pick up a narrow path again. Always keep the general direction upwards and slightly left towards the ridge.
Eventually you reach a wide track, with easy walking now until the wide track ends at a narrow path. Soon the path meets the ridge path between Two Howes and Simon Howe.
You will soon see Simon Howe in the far distance and the path becomes more civilised with the odd cairn and marker post to guide you.
The large cairn and a curved pile of stones mark Simon Howe which is the meeting place of four routes.
Enjoy the spectacular views from here, then turn right along a wide track eventually leaving the moor down a steep bank. At the bottom turn right on a stony/grassy path over the hill to Hunt House in the gully.
I can give you a choice of two routes from here. You can take the easy way and follow the quiet road for one mile to the T-junction, then turn right and walk along the wide grass verge to return to Goathland.
Or you can take the adventurous route by turning right at Hunt House at the bridleway sign (do not be confused by the public footpath sign).
Follow the path in the direction the bridleway sign indicates and bear right just after a large rock onto a narrow path through the bracken.
As you climb the path becomes indistinct but head for the ridge with the rocks showing and walk about 50 paces to the right of a small tree then follow a gully to the summit.
At the top you should see a large cairn ahead of you, ignore this to bear left onto the ridge path which runs parallel to the road beneath you on the left.
As long as you walk in the direction of the road on the ridge path you will reach your destination.
There are a few cairns along here to guide you and eventually follow the path which bears right to a tarn. If you miss the tarn turning, just follow the path to the road then turn right.
Walk past the tarn, then go left over the hill, then diagonally right to the road at the Mallyan Hotel. Take the roadside footpath to return to the car park at Goathland.
Distance – 7½ miles (12km)
Time – 3 hours
Grading – Some paths are undefined and hard going otherwise moderate
Start/grid ref – Goathland village car park, grid ref 833014
Best map – OS Outdoor Leisure 27
Parking – Village Car Park
Refreshments – Cafes and pub in Goathland
Public toilets – Goathland car park