GEORGE WILKINSON enjoys the very fine view from Sutton Bank before dipping to Gormire Lake.

SUTTON BANK has the ‘finest view in England’, wrote James Herriot, and now a signpost with that claim points along the Cleveland Way to a nearby viewing platform for the ‘incredible panorama’ – or as Fairfax-Blakeborough had it, “Yorkshire – north, south, east and west”, plus Gormire Lake.

But next, we switched focus to the underground for, just 30 yards down a thin steep path that leads off the escarpment, there is the small round entrance to a windy pit that can blow like a fan.

A bit of foot watching was required on a long steep descent, down into nature reserve, with great expectations of Gormire Lake warming in the spring. I’ve seen armies of baby frogs and slithery leeches.

As it was we got a light show, a breeze made twinkling wavelets and coots dived and bobbed in the sparkles. Hybrid tufted ducks floated well out. The scene could be perfect a week or two after Easter when the acres of bluebells might be in full flower.

Circle Gormire slowly. Bulrush spears up through the surface, tufted loostrife is more discreet and rare; the birds come, the birds go, people wild swim and I fear there are pike.

This is a natural place; the lake was scooped by a glacier. The water is very clear, being fed by almost imperceptible springs, filtered down through the rock above, where Whitestone Cliff stands dominant.

We lingered then left, for Southwoods Hall a mile north and had a sandwich by its gates, under the CCTV. Siegfried Farnon, Herriot’s veterinary partner, lived here.

The climb back up is gentler than some hereabouts, being over pasture slopes to the tree line, where there was green garlic then green dog’s mercury then the flower of a wild strawberry.

We didn’t go to the top but took a bright track with butterflies, primroses and nervous deer, to a boggy bit and then a beech wood of shade and mossy boulders. When, eventually, we turned for the top it was by a most interesting path.

From Whitestone Cliff there are variations on the ‘finest view’, and here, parallel to the Cleveland Way, there is a new mountain bike track. At the visitor centre, they hire and sell bikes and will also sell you Sloe Motion gin for, to quote the label, ‘life on the hedge’.


When in doubt look at the map. Check your position at each point. Keep straight on unless otherwise directed. (wm=waymark, fp=fingerpost).

1. From park centre, path to Sutton Bank, cross side road, path (fp Cleveland Way/Sneck Yate).

2. At short length of fence, steps to path on left (fp Nature Trail). Stay on main path downhill.

3. Left at Gormire Lake, 300 yards, right (fp Cleaves), right (fp Lake Circuit/Permissive Path).

4. Leave lakeside and, after short rise, left to stone path (3-way fp). Across road end to fieldgate, track, fieldgate.

5. Here paths have changed and are not quite as on OS map. Cross track to gate to left of main gates (fp Southwoods), 100 yards by fence, gate on right (fp), left to drive for 100 yards. By/before yard turn right (wm) to skirt grounds, around corner to short path with three gates (wms).

6. Footbridge, uphill by wall to your left (wm). Gate (fp) into field, 1 o’clock for 20 yards to post (wm), angle diagonally left uphill via waymarked posts and gate/gateway, faint grass path. Keep above and to right of stream at reedy area. From broken wm on post, 200 yards diagonally left to gate into wood and path uphill.

7. Right to good track (wm post), 25 yards, straight on (wm post).

8. Good track ended at sharp left turn to path uphill beside wet area. (piles of stone April 2014) 9. At T-junction with good path, left uphill. Cross path/track at junction to path angling uphill (wm).

10. Right to path at top (fp Sutton Bank). Note, steep cliffs.

Fact file

Distance: Five miles.

Car parking: Sutton Bank National Park Centre.

Right of way: Public and permissive.

Date walked: April 2014.

Tourist information: Sutton Bank 01845 597426.

Refreshments: Park Centre and Hambleton Inn.

Map: OS Explorer OL26 North York Moors western.

Terrain: Escarpment.

Difficulty: Moderate.

Please observe the Country Code and park sensibly. While every effort is made to provide accurate information, walkers set out at their own risk.