MANY years ago, our land was at the mercy of the wizards and witches who roamed the hills and dales of Yorkshire, generally making a nuisance of themselves.

Living in our area, there was a person who was gifted with strange powers to equal any old witch or wizard.

He was the wise man of Stokesley. A wise man had unusual powers which allowed him to look into the past and the future, enabling him to know everything which was going on in his area.

There were lots of wise men around the county, but the one I am going to tell you about was called Wrightson and lived in the town of Stokesley, once the prominent town in the area.

Old Wrightson, the wise man of Stokesley, had the right qualifications for the job as he was the seventh son of a seventh daughter. He was famous for healing cattle, much like the witches, but I think they were more involved with making the cattle ill.

His powers were known far and wide. One man brought his cow many miles just to see old Wrightson. The wise man had no prior knowledge of his coming but he knew who he was and when he opened the door to him, he described the cow and its illness to him without having it. He proclaimed that there was no cure for the cow and it would die – which it did.

There were many other tales of his skills. There was a bull which couldn’t stand up, until it saw old Wrightson when it immediately rose and healthily trotted away.

Another test of his skills came when a miner lost his shirt and his friend hid his coat to test old Wrightson.

As soon as they knocked on Wrightson’s door, he told them what they had come for and suggested that they should collect the coat from the house where he left it. He then described the lost shirt and said it was at his own house which they found later had been left there by a friend.

There are many other tales of old Wrightson’s knowledge, even one that tells us that giving salt away is foolish and could potentially lead to a dangerous situation involving the person who received the salt.

So let us have a cycle ride around this area where many odd goings on were, and probably still are, prevalent.

If you come across one, you might need to ride into Stokesley and find the wise man he will know you are coming.

Your route

Head off in the direction of Helmsley, past The Cobblestone Fashion Boutique. At the roundabout, bear right, signed to Teesside, Helmsley and others, cycle past the pedestrian crossing, then turn right signed to Kirby.

Leave Stokesley behind you now with good views of the Cleveland Hills to the front and soon you arrive at the village of Kirby. Just past the church at the crossroads, turn left signed to Broughton, Chop Gate, Kildale and Helmsley.

At the roundabout, go right signed to Helmsley, then cycle along through Broughton village with a grand view of the famous Wainstones high above you on the Cleveland Hills.

Now you start the long climb up Clay Bank. At the top, you can turn into the car park and have a look at the magnificent view across to Roseberry Topping and Captain Cook’s Monument. Downhill now for some time, then the undulating twisty road to Chop Gate.

In the village, near the War Memorial, take a right turn along a narrow lane. Enjoy this country lane which twists and turns on its way along the valley below Cringle Moor. There are some very steep descents with sharp, slippery corners along here, so beware.

Soon you reach the Lord Stones car park in the quarry on your right, don’t miss it.

Refreshments and toilet facilities are available here.

Leave the car park to continue your journey to the top of the escarpment. Stop for a while here to admire the view across to the Pennines, the Yorkshire Dales, County Durham and beyond.

The descent from the escarpment is steep and serious with the odd cattle grid thrown in to test you. Please take care, there are some very steep sections and tight slippery corners all the way down.

Eventually, you arrive at a Tjunction.

Go right here signed to Carlton and Stokesley. Cycle through Carlton-in-Cleveland, then at the end of the village where the road sweeps to the right, you must go straight ahead (left) signed to Hutton Rudby and Swainby.

At the T-junction, go left onto the A172 signed to Ingleby Cross and Thirsk, then almost immediately, turn right signed to Sexhow and Hutton Rudby.

Cycle along, enjoying the views, but watch out for sharp corners, especially after Sexhow Farm where there is a steep descent before you take a short climb into Hutton Rudby.

At the T-junction, go right signed to Stokesley and Guisborough. At the next Tjunction, turn right again past an interesting church, then continue along to soon turn left signed to Middleton-on-Leven.

Continue along for a couple of miles, then keep straight ahead signed to Hilton and Seamer.

Cycle along this twisty undulating road, then turn right at the T-junction signed to Seamer and Stokesley.

This road can be busy at times but soon you arrive at Seamer, at the T-junction, go left signed to Stokesley which leads you back into the town centre.

The facts

Distance – 23miles/37km
Terrain – One testing ascent and one testing descent
Best map – OS Outdoor Leisure 26
Start/grid ref – Stokesley, grid ref: 526087
Parking – Stokesley town centre
Refreshments – Lords Stones car park if open, Stokesley and lots of pubs on the way
Public toilets – Lord Stones car park, Stokesley town centre

View a map of the cycle ride>>