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Country walk at Grosmont
GEORGE WILKINSON enjoys a glorious walk from Grosmont.
Grosmont is at the junction of the lovely Esk Valley Railway with its diesel trains and the equally lovely North York Moors Railway and its steam.
But walkers travel on their stomachs, and we dived into the art café, guzzled some ace tapas, saw 1950s-style prints and watched through a window as a diesel slid past.
Torpidity was dispelled by the bustle, toots, and blasts, the steam hissing into the heat of the day. The stops were announced; “Goathland, Newtondale Halt, Levisham, Pickering”.
Passengers shuffled along the 1950s platforms, photographers positioned, and the very black and mechanical Cock O’The North muscled out with many carriages. A minute later, the sleek Sir Nigel Gresley nosed off to the sheds, to be readied.
We walked. A little climb brought the view of Grosmont, small and snuggled and divided by its lines and then a cinder track named the Rail Trail took us past sidelined and evocative rolling stock.
With so many other strollers, families, dogs, and couples, we practised countryside etiquette; bikes and horses are banned.
After a mile, we discovered our planned route was impossible because of the lack of a bridge, and so sat on a bench near a terrace of houses.
An adjacent Scotsman was friendly and an expert train cameraman so my navigator followed him to the best spot.
The Scot checked his watch and a minute or so later the Sir Nigel Gresley accelerated up a long slope for us, in clear elevation a field away, pulling a long line of carriages and “pulling quite hard” said the Scot.
We were not long back to idling along the rail trail track when some sandstone steps tempted us to a path, all alone, along the river, the Murk Esk, that sparkled in the filtered sunlight.
At the village of Beck Hole, the first thing is a green and signs inform that it is owned by the Duchy of Lancaster, which provides income for the monarch. I settled on the green, where there are half a dozen quoits squares set into the grass, a “dangerous game” said my navigator.
I did not reach the famously small pub that is a couple of hundred yards away, but was brought refreshing lemonade made and served by local children. The way back was just as nice, a little climb on the back roads just touches the moor.
There was a scattering of hens, charming pastures and Liberty Hall, but it was best in Crag Cliff Wood where the air was absolutely silent and still and the dappled sunlight made for shimmering invisibility.
Too soon, the trance was broken by a last hoot, squeal and soft hiss from the direction of Grosmont.
Being a Sunday, there was no night train to Whitby, but the walk had a last intensity because a green lane led to a place with very high and vertical cliffs, wide fords and, the easiest route, a thin high pedestrian bridge to a churchyard.
When in doubt look at the map. Check your position at each point. Keep straight on unless otherwise directed.
1. From station, over level crossing, ten yards, gate on right to path (various signs), footbridge over Murk Esk, 15 yards, fork left to path uphill, pass church, snickelgate (fingerpost) and right, gate to path in field, 100 yards.
2. Gate (fingerpost Rail Trail) on left to path. Snickelgate (fingerpost) and right to cinderbed path by railway line (three gates, footbridge).
3. At footbridge, leave trail for path to left of river (three-way fingerpost – ‘footpath’), steps, uphill.
4. At two-way fingerpost and Egton sign, path ahead, not signed.
5. Fieldgate at Beck Hole and left to road uphill.
6. Just after farm (bridleway sign on right), left across grass for 50 yards to fieldgate (waymark) into field, 11 o’clock, gate (waymark), slab footbridge, cross field, fieldgate (waymark), gateway, fieldgate, track, fieldgate into farmyard. Straight on through yard, fieldgate (waymark), pass house to your left, fieldgate out, 50 yards.
7. Left to metalled drive/bridleway, 100 yards, fieldgate on right to track (bridleway sign – ignore all closed signs), 50 yards, stile/fieldgate (waymark), old gateposts, path downhill between fence and wall, becomes sunken. Fieldgate.
8. Gateway into grassy banked area and immediately fork right to path downhill into trees (no sign for path but bridleway closed signs), stile and stepstream and immediately right uphill, 15 yards, stile into field and immediately left by wood edge, stile/stepstream/stile. Stile/footbridge into wood.
9. Fork right to track 100 yards uphill to fieldgate, that is leave path ahead (no sign), into field, left, stone slabs.
10. Join metalled green lane (sign), downhill, fieldgate, before first and wide ford take footbridge on left over Murk Esk, steps, left at paths junction (waymark) and either look at church via squeezer on right then join outward route from church gates or go uphill to rejoin outward route at snickelgate.
Distance: 5 miles.
General location: North York Moors.
Right of way: Public.
Date walked: September 2012.
Road route: From York via Pickering.
Car parking: Station carpark or National Parks carpark 100 yards down the road.
Refreshments: Cafés and a pub at Grosmont. Pub at Beck Hole.
Tourist and public transport information: Pickering TIC 01751 473791.
Map: OS OL27 North York Moors eastern.
Please observe the Country Code and park sensibly. While every effort is made to provide accurate information, walkers set out at their own risk.