THIS walk is very much a case of Bridestones revisited.

The eye-catching rocks on the edge of Dalby Forest were originally on the agenda for July's Gazette & Herald walk, until Levisham and Lockton hospitality intervened.

My companions that day, Will and Richard, were waylaid by ale at the Horseshoe Inn at Levisham and then at John's Lockton residence.

As extra insurance this time around, Richard and I left Will at home, enlisted John for the walk - and kept the hospitality corked until after the walk.

It also helped that it was a Tuesday. The Horseshoe is closed on Tuesdays in winter.

The weather forecast was against us when we set off from the centre of Lockton mid-morning. Rain was scheduled for early afternoon and we were resigned to the fact we had no chance of out-running it.

Barney, our border collie companion, was a reluctant starter as we crossed the A169 and headed for the fringes of Dalby Forest, but he was soon bowling along in the company of chocolate labrador pal Digby.

The odd grouse caught their attention as we dropped through Thwaite Wood, opting for Green Dale as opposed to the slightly longer and more remote Stain Dale.

If you ever wondered where old concrete railway sleepers went to die, the answer lies beyond Low Pasture Villa Farm. Hundreds of them form the track surface from here to Pasture Road.

At Low Staindale, the Stain Dale route converged with ours at the entrance to Dove Dale, the tranquil National Trust home of the Bridestones.

After weaving through the ferns, it takes a quick climb up Needle Point to get a first glimpse of the stones. The Low Bridestones are to the right across Bridestone Griff.

A little further on and the High Bridestones are dead ahead.

The rocks are all that remains of a sandstone cap of Jurassic sedimentary rock, which was deposited about 150 million years ago.

Layer upon layer of stone has been eroded by a combination of rain, wind and frost to leave the weird and wonderful formations.

See if you can spot the Pepperpot, the most recognisable of the Bridestones, the Indian's Head, the Villain or the Cheeseblock.

We were looking out for John's Christmas dining room, a hollowed out rock where our walking companion traditionally rests awhile on December 25.

While the dogs were exploring the alcove, which is an ideal spot to shelter from the winter weather, John pointed out that he has made a reservation for next Friday. Fellow festive walkers be warned!

We crossed from High to Low, dropping into and then climbing out of Bridestones Griff, and, leaving the rocks behind, picked our way across the boggy Grime Moor.

As we were having lunch perched on a group of stones next to the track on the edge of Dalby Forest, the weather started closing in. As promised.

It was full waterproofs and limited visibility from here on in. The weather was trying its best to mask Blakey Topping from view.

As we reached Newgate Moor, a worker toiling away driving in fence posts drew our attention to a lone deer. The youngster tried several times to leap the fence as we approached before sprinting off to the opposite end of the enclosure.

Old Wife's Way, connecting Newgate Brow to the Hole of Horcum, was eerily shrouded in mist. The sheep looked as delighted with the weather as we were.

The decision to cross Levisham Moor rather than take shelter at the base of the Hole of Horcum was probably an error. The wind and rain was blasting into our faces (and waterproofs) for the next hour or so.

The appearance of a herd of Highland cattle, complete with calves, on the path forced us into a diversion through the undergrowth en route to Limpsey Gate Lane.

The road, complete with cascading rainwater, then aquaplaned us from Levisham back into Lockton, to the sanctuary of John's warm kitchen - and even warmer hospitality.


Distance: 9.5 miles.

Parking: Roadside in Lockton (or at Hole of Horcum on A169).

Refreshments: Tea room at Lockton, The Horseshoe Inn at Levisham.

Maps: Ordnance Survey OL27 North York Moors Eastern area.


* Leave Lockton, passing the cemetery and heading towards the A169. Cross the road with care and go through gate on opposite side into field. Keep straight ahead on left hand edge of field towards Thwaite Wood.

*On reaching the edge of the wood follow path left and descend through trees. At bottom go through a gate and follow path rising along Green Dale with wood on the right.

* Go straight through two more gates and turn left onto road of concrete railway sleepers near Low Pasture Villa Farm. Follow road for about half a mile, then turn right towards Low Pasture Farm.

* Walk straight ahead through farm onto track between fields. Track swings left and descends towards a house at Low Staindale. Go through a gate go around the house, keeping it on your left. Go through a gate and keep ahead before turning left into Dovedale and the Bridestones National Trust area.

* Keep ahead and climb Needle Point, with Bridestone Griff on your right. You explore High Bridestones ahead and then drop across Bridestone Griff towards Low Bridestones. Follow indistinct path north east across moorland to meet the edge of Dalby Forest. Turn left and keep ahead for three quarters of a mile.

* Go straight ahead through a gate and keep fence on your left. After about a mile, turn left onto Old Wife's Way, a track that leads into the car park at the Hole of Horcum. Cross the A169 with care and turn right to follow the road as it curves left. Go through gate straight ahead onto Levisham Moor and follow clear path for about two and a half miles.

* At meeting of paths at Dundale Pond stay straight ahead on a path with banks either side to reach a gate onto Limpsey Gate Lane. Stay on lane for three quarters of a mile to emerge into Levisham with the Horseshoe pub on your right. Go straight ahead down main street and stay on the road for one mile to reach Lockton.