GEORGE WILKINSON enjoys a fragrant walk in Appleton-le-Moors.

APPLETON-LE-MOORS is one wide main street, north to south, with stone houses each side and rather nice.

The back gardens are long, allotment plus, and they finish at a grassy back lane from which stretch out even longer narrow and hedged fields.

This ground plan was set out in medieval times, for peasant farmers; now it suits the residents, and it suited us.

But really we had come for the woods. These are organised as well, some are SSSI, some are part managed by the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust and some shelter under tax breaks. The log stacks and brushwood heaps are eco, the flowers are gorgeous.

We dived into the show; there were wood anemones, bluebells, avens, primroses, cowslips, stitchwort, bugle, red campion, early purple orchids, garlic mustard, and wild garlic, all in bloom somewhere.

A tawny owl gave me a long hard stare, and then glided. A hare and a deer disappeared in a hurry; the sheep were friendly, the cattle nosey and the songbirds on song. We saw a pair of buzzards and one or two pheasants, in ecologically proper proportion; pheasants and flowers do not mix.

The hub of this route is Appleton Mill Farm, a drawing, a plan and a short analysis of which is in Houses of The North York Moors published by HMSO.

A bridleway goes through the farmyard to Nutholme, an 18th-century, Grade II-listed house, now a holiday cottage. Access to the house is via a ford through the River Seven, and access to one double bedroom is via the other; so not for those with cold feet.

We refocused on the fragrant outdoors; Hell Bank Wood was white with garlic.

A nice track leads back through the fields. For a hundred yards, in the shelter of the hedges, the air was dancing with a hatch of mating gnats. Many spun down, to drown in congress in the puddles.

Otherwise, buttercups glowed, ash trees broke bud and sheep and lambs grazed Appleton’s verges, then thunder rang out.


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 pub, cross road, south down street for 100 yards, left (next to The Haven) to track (sign), 50 yards, gate to path between gardens, gate and left to grassy track, 25 yards.

2. Stile on right (wm), good field-edge path. From corner, path downhill in wood (dogs on lead sign).

3. At bottom, left to track, five yards, fieldgate (wm), left to metalled drive uphill. Gate/cattlegrid and immediately right to road downhill.

4. On bend, track on right (footpath sign/Hamley Hagg Farm), gate/cattlegrid, straight through farmyard, fieldgate by barn, by fence then wall to your left.

5. Fieldgate on left (dogs on lead sign), faint path angles downhill through trees, 200 yards, stile (wm) into wood, path becomes downhill.

6. Right at junction to wider woodland path (may soon be waymarked). First fork left downhill on narrow path (may soon be waymarked). Take care, steep drops. Field-edge grass track/border.

7. To see ford, through farmyard, right at house and immediately left on short track to ford. Otherwise, right to metalled drive uphill. Track on left, fieldgate (wm), wood, stile/fieldgate (wm on far side) out of wood, 300 yards.

8. Fieldgate on right (wm), path uphill in wood, gate into field (wm), by wood to your left.

9. Gate (wm) and right to hedged track, 400 yards. Gate (wm), 100 yards, gateway (nearby wms), bench, 200 yards, left on bend to track between gardens, right to main street.

Fact file

Distance: Five miles.

Car parking: Roadside in Appleton.

Right of way: Public.

Date walked: May 2014.

Tourist information: Pickering TIC 01751 473791.

Refreshments: Moors Inn at Appleton.

Map: OS Explorers OL 26 and 27 North York Moors western and eastern.

Terrain: Valley and fields.

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.