WHEELDALE has, appropriately, a couple of roads. We travelled one to get here, miles signed as too fragile' for the timber trucks, and then we parked in the valley just out of the forests to the south, on the moor, in the open, in the sunshine.

From here it was only a few steps to the other road, the Roman one. An information board by the North York Moors National Park includes speculation on its uncertain history'.

For a mile, for a Roman milia, the line of the road is obvious, six paces across, slightly raised and with uneven and much diminished stone on the surface, part overgrown.

People sensibly walk the smooth grass path beside it, though why English Heritage describe a visit as hazardous' one can only wonder.

We marched north, leaving behind the conifers breathing out the cold of the night, were pleased for another day stolen from the winter, toga weather.

A woman was revisiting the far end of the road and she said she remembered when there was a keeper who looked after it.

After the chat we turned, crossed a moor of pale grass and rejoined the tarmac Wheeldale Road. This dips down to Wheeldale Gill and a ford, a footbridge, and an area of grass, where travellers stop for a moment, or longer if for the illicit pleasure of a campfire.

There was hardly any traffic, just a couple of cars including, suitably Italian, an old red Lancia that skimmed round the hairpins, lower than the bracken, splashed the ford and redlined gears one and two on the climb out. Petrolhead, me? No, not really, it just looked and sounded something.

We climbed one of the bracken slopes and circled round to Hazel Head Farm. The view is long and towards but not to the sea. This is a walk quite empty of buildings, there's a glimpse of Goathland, and some isolated houses.

The connections though are good. The park's authority did lots of work here a while back, and a sunken path led us down to the confluence of Wheeldale Beck and Wheeldale Gill, where there are two footbridges and a ford.

Signs to the Roman Road guided us on to the Queen's Goathland Estate.

From down by the beck the landscape of Wheeldale took on a look of park land to one side, contrasted with a blank steepness to the moor that fills the space between here and Goathland.

This is not an all-weather walk because Wheeldale Beck must be crossed by a dozen stepping stones, easy after dry days, dry months.

The climb out took us through hatches of midge via an anvil boulder to the Roman Road.

Fact file

Distance: Five miles.

General location: North York Moors.

Start: Wheeldale GR SE803973.

Right of way: Public.

Map: Drawn from OS Explorer OL27 North York Moors eastern area.

Dogs: Legal.

Date walked: November 2007.

Road route: From south via Pickering and Newton-on-Rawcliffe.

Car parking: Roadside.

Lavatories: None.

Refreshments: The Mucky Duck at Newton-on-Rawcliffe.

Tourist and public transport information: Pickering TIC 01751 473791.

Point of interest: The Queen's 10,000 acre Goathland Estate is her largest Duchy of Lancaster estate.

Terrain: Moor and valley.

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.


When in doubt look at the map. Check your position at each point. Keep straight on unless otherwise directed.

1 Stile/fieldgate (fingerpost/info board) to Roman Road track over moor. Ladderstile/fieldgate into field. Track descends.

2 Immediately before next fieldgate (waymark/info board), left uphill 100 yards then angle slightly right to track in grass, ignore left forks, keep above rushes etc.

3 Fieldgate and right to road, footbridge/ford, uphill, path on right (footpath sign), up to fence corner and join grass track 25 yards to left of fence, stile/fieldgate, grass track downhill.

4 Immediately before fieldgate, right to farm drive (fingerpost), fieldgate (waymark), through yard, fieldgate (waymark) to track/path downhill, three successive waymarked gates, ford or adjacent footbridges (Roman Road post), track uphill, fieldgate, fieldgate, metalled surface.

5 Right to road (sign), becomes track after house, bridge, track, path to left of Wheeldale Lodge (fingerpost Roman Road).

6 At wall corner, right to stile/fieldgate (fingerpost Roman Road), and stepping stones, steps then path angles gently uphill, ignore right fork at steeper angle, shapely boulder on crest of bank, 200 yards over moor then left to rejoin outward route by Roman Road (no sign).

Map of the walk>>