For once, his navigator doesn’t have to tell GEORGE WILKINSON to walk faster on a half-iced day.

NEWTON-ON-RAWCLIFFE stands on the edge; south lies the farmed land of Ryedale, north is mostly forest and the North York Moors.

On the day the name seemed appropriate: the village duck pond was half-iced, the White Swan was shut until the evening, holiday cottages looked cold and a few locals were skidding around.

We felt raw, and hurried straight for the cliff, the edge of a misty Newtondale. Levisham railway station is 400 feet below, down there somewhere. When we were last on this top track, in 2000, there was a linear, illegal, rubbish tip behind the village; now it is clean.

For once my navigator didn’t have to urge me to ‘walk faster’ and mile after mile we marched along the snow dusted back lanes and green lanes with the valley one side and fields the other. There weren’t any arresting attractions or events; just now and then we passed a house or a shed or something in between.

Gulls shared a pasture with fieldfares, although they kept to their separate halves. A farmer fed sheep, molehills held the snow, a few snowdrops were out, white lines of furrows stretched across the landscape and of traffic there was but a pair of walkers, a horse and two cars.

After a few miles we had to make a decision. Either to keep on the tracks for a very simple circuit or go off exploring. We explored.

This top end of Gundale is most interesting. Described by Natural England as "upland broadleaf mixed and yew woodland", such woods are rare and can provide the highest levels of upland biodiversity, Natural England designate it a Site of Special Scientific Interest, but they write that its condition is "unfavourable and declining" and complain of "inappropriate scrub control".

There are posts bearing adverts for game bird food, these mark shooters positions, but there are no waymarks in the wood for the walker and we spent some time backtracking to find an approximation to the route on the OS map.

Next is a big farm, very near is the site of the Cawthorne Roman camp. Just south of our route in Blansby Park there was a Roman villa.

For the last mile or two, we were back on the fast tracks. Snow flurried, the sky acquired a mustard streak, and the fields swooped; Newton on Rawcliffe showed ahead, and soon we were back at the duck pond. We fancy another look at Gundale, in the spring or summer.


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

1. Uphill through village (pavement). At bench, track on right (fp Levisham). Becomes dead-end road.

2. Right at four-way junction (three-way fingerpost). Road.

3. Left to main road, right after bungalow to metalled green lane (road markings).

4. Right at T-junction, 100 yards. Either, continue on West Dike Road. Or path on left across field at old fieldgate (fp), Stile into wood (wm) to path/track right and downhill.

5. At valley bottom our route approximates to the public footpath (no signs). Right on track 50 yards, steps on lefts to path that bends for 100 yards, over hummock and pass rhododendron to your left, 50 yards to conifer and left along terrace, keeping boggy gulley to your left and hillside to your right. If this route is impassable/invisible cross track at number 5 ie. at valley bottom, 30 yards up path on bank, right to good track, first right over grassy track/bank bridge and left to join route.

6. Join grass track, small gorse bushes at end of track and it curves right uphill to fieldgate (wm/fp).

7. Cross field to farm, to corner of garden fence (wm/fp), left by fence, right at far corner, join drive, Cross drive (wm post by hedge) and by four large trees to right of house. Path should be diagonally across field (wm post) but use good right-hand margins if not reinstated.

8. Right to metalled dead-end road.

9. Becomes track after passing entrance to Cook’s Grange, 50 yards, path on left uphill by fence in trees, left to track for 100 yards.

10. Snickelgate on right, grass track by hedge to your right, left at fence corner, track 50 yards, right at corner to good track, ignore a left and a right near pond, sunken track uphill into village.

Fact file

Distance: Five miles or six miles.

Car parking: Roadside in Newton-on-Rawcliffe.

Right of way: Public.

Date walked: January 2015.

Tourist information: Pickering TIC 01751 473791.

Refreshments: White Swan, Newton.

Map: OS Explorer OL27 North York Moors eastern area.

Terrain: Mostly flat.

Difficulty: Easy or 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.