North York Moors CAM

Sunday 26th March 2000

Today's walk: Commondale - Hob on the Hill - Hob Cross - Quakers' Causeway (5 miles)


 

The village of Commondale lies in a deep valley at the confluence of Ravengill and Whiteley Becks about 2 miles north-west of Castleton. It is a quiet place now but that was not always the case - in the late 19th Century the coming of the railway, which linked the village to other parts of Cleveland, helped fuel the rapid development of the local brickworks founded by John Pratt. Many of the village buildings, including the church and the old school house, are easily distinguishable by the red bricks which came from the works - later known as the Commondale Pottery, the brickworks finally closed in 1947

Nowadays, Commondale is a quiet, sleepy village and is an ideal starting point for the many lovely walks in this area

Today's walk starts on the western outskirts of the village (Grid Ref: 658 105) where ample parking is available on the grass verges by the side of the road to Kildale

 

Depending where you park, take one of the two grassy footpaths that set off north-west, signposted 'to Guisborough', and which lead down to a small stream - Whiteley Beck

(A stone trod can also be followed before reaching the beck but the going gets a bit boggy and the path to the right of the trod and down to the beck is the recommended route to take)

It was on the path near the gorse bushes in the photograph above that I came across my first wild adders a couple of years ago - a pair were basking in the May sunshine. If left alone the snakes are harmless but if you do happen to be unlucky enough to get bitten then it's best to seek medical advice as the adder's bite is venomous

After crossing the stream, the path can be clearly seen winding its way up the hillside and we follow it for the next mile or so across the western flank of Skelderskew Moor steadily gaining height then levelling off - North Ings Farm comes into view in the beck valley down to our left and soon after . . . -

 

. . . we cross this wooden footbridge and turn right along the track leading up from the farm - just ahead is an old, green railway wagon containing a table and a few old chairs, utilized by grouse shooting parties - in a storm it would make a welcome shelter

 

Just past the railway truck, a short detour along a path to the left brings us to a memorial stone - Guardsmen Alf Cockerill and Robbie Leggott, both victims of World War I, spent their boyhood on these moors - as you can see, the memorial is still visited and tended in their respect

Return to the wide track and after continuing about another 50 yards or so look for a path striking off through the heather to your right - follow the path north as it winds it way through the heather and past a number of strewn boulders heading towards some grouse butts on the horizon

(It is at this point that I advise you to only do this walk in fine, clear weather - storms and poor visibility are common on these moors and the next couple of miles are very exposed and the path can sometimes become wet and indistinct - however, in good, dry weather this walk is superb and you can have the moors almost to yourself)

 

As we get nearer to the grouse butts, a small standing stone on a low mound comes into view ahead

 

A short detour off the path to our left brings us to the stone inscribed 'Hob on the Hill' (Grid Ref: 646 124)

'Hobs' or 'hobgoblins' figure prominently in local folklore - they are supposedly the ugly, mischevious cousins of elves and goblins who lived on the moors and in certain dales - they were thought to be helpful creatures, curing illness and protecting crops

In good, clear weather this is a good place to sit and relax for a while and enjoy the views all around

 

Here we look back south-west past 'Hob on the Hill' towards North Ings Plantation on Commondale Moor and to Kildale Moor on the distant horizon

 

Returning to our path we continue north for about of a mile following a dead straight line of ancient boundary stones, many inscribed with the initials and dates of previous landowners - we then negotiate a wet, marshy section until . . .

 

. . . we arrive at yet another prominent standing stone - Hob Cross

 

Near Hob Cross, we turn right and head east along another peaty track, wet in places, with a stone wall to our left, aiming for a line of telegraph poles ahead on the horizon

 

About of a mile along the track from Hob Cross we turn right and head south-east along this well exposed paved way - The Quakers' Causeway

There are many examples of stone trods and pannier tracks all over the North York Moors area but none better than this. Some were used by monks on their travels from one monastery to another - others carried teams of packhorses, walking in single file, carrying their burdens in baskets, slung over their backs, known as 'panniers'. This particular route is thought to have been used by the Quakers on their journey from their meeting house in Guisborough to the Quaker burial grounds in the Esk Valley

The stone slabs were painstakingly laid over many years across the wet, peaty ground providing an ideal surface for both man and horse to traverse the moors

 

The paved causeway stops after about a mile but we continue on a good track towards the main road between Lockwood Beck Reservoir and Castleton - here we look back north over High Moor to Stanghow Moor

 

20 yards after reaching the main road at a sharp bend (Grid Ref: 671 117), our path continues again off to the right heading south-west down towards a small plantation

 

The path continues along the top edge of the plantation until we reach this corner - turning half-right we continue across the grassy moor and then follow the steep, winding road down into Commondale where there is a small pub, The Cleveland Inn, and some tea rooms. Follow the road up the other side of the village and back to the starting point

 


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