GEORGE WILKINSON enjoys the signs of spring at Cropton.

CROPTON means hilltop settlement in Saxon. The village has an old well at the top of its splendid, wide and virtually only street. The well was 300 feet deep which begs the question, why settle on a dry hilltop?

The answer is nearby, along a daffodil lane and past the church where, on a Woodland Trust promontory, there is a mound, a remnant of a Norman castle. The position is commanding, the bank is strategically steep.

Cropton Bank will be vividly fast when the first Tour de Yorkshire goes down it on the first of May. I might watch it here, with the adverse cambers and the funnelled humpback bridge at the bottom.

We took Low Lane, a gorgeous path, a springtime special, especially for the plants. The mix, the succession, was of wood anemone, dogs mercury and garlic, with a scattering of primroses and some violets.

The ecology refines in Coppy Wood where the hazel is dominant and, having being coppiced, had sprouted countless silver-barked staves that had hardly greened up, so the slashed sunlight lit the floor to encourage white anemone petals to open, or if you prefer to ‘spring from the tears of Venus’.

The day was blustery enough to batter the bird song, but was appropriate for the wood anemones as these are also the wind flower, the gift of the wind god Anemos, his heralding of spring.

More certainly, the plant also records the history of the land, it is an oft-quoted indicator of old woods, is poisonous, and sometimes called ‘smell fox’ that probably explains why a labrador had rolled in it.

There is competition from the wild garlic that thrives as a pungent carpet on some slopes despite having no associated deities. The labrador rolled in this as well; a happy, musky, tangy, dog.

We touched on the River Seven and climbed to the top path that would lead us back. A woodpecker drummed. Here the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust look after pasture that might have been wood at some time as it is scattered with wood anemones.

A notice reads "Wildlife trust cattle [the ones with the horns] are now grazing this site for conservation purposes", we didn’t see them, but the view is good, a variant on the one from the castle mound.

Bull Ings Lane might bring you up against Cropton’s enormous pheasant farm, but not this year as the pens are on further fields. What you will pass is the New Inn and the chance of a glass of Balmy Mild, Tunnel Vision or Yorkshire Warrior which are some of the beers concocted at the Cropton Brewery.


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 well at top of main street, metalled side lane (fp St Gregory’s Church).

2 At church straight on to path uphill (sign), fence gap (Cropton Banks info board), fork left across grass to mound with low benches , retrace steps to church and right to wide grass track, downhill.

3 Right to road downhill, mostly verge path. First track on left at bench (fp).

4 On right hand bend, straight on through stone gateposts and contour, 3 fieldgates.

5 On right hand bend, straight on, fieldgate (fp/wm Sinnington), hedged path, fieldgate. At triangular junction in wood, fork right for ten yards then right downhill.

6 Left just before fieldgate to path by fence, 1/3 mile.

7 When near and above river, fork left uphill on good path.

8 Left at top to wide path, ignore left fork, gate (wm), gate into field, gateway (wm) and path swings left.

9 Gate (wm) and left to hedged path.

10 Left to road into Cropton.


Fact file

Distance: Four miles Car Parking: Roadside in Cropton.

Right of Way: Public and permissive.

Date walked: April 2015 Refreshments: The New Inn at Cropton.

Map: OS Explorer OL27 North York Moors eastern

Terrain: Valley

Difficulty: Quite easy

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