Friday 6th May 2005

Weather: Sunny & pleasant


Littlebeck - Falling Foss - May Beck - John Cross

( 7 miles )


 

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Today's walk starts at the picturesque hamlet of Littlebeck (Grid. Ref. 880 049), 6 miles south of Whitby.
( Park near the village hall )

Go downhill then turn left at the above footpath sign to go through the gate and follow the woodland path keeping left of the beck

 

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The path can be quite muddy and very slippery after rain
- follow it for about a mile, steadily climbing until reaching a huge, hollowed-out boulder (GR 886 041)

 

It's called 'The Hermitage' and is thought to have been hewn out of a single rock in 1790 (inscribed above the doorway)
reputedly by a George Chubb whose initials are also carved above the door.

 

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Climb on top of the boulder to find two ' wishing chairs' also carved out of the rock
- it is said that if you make a wish in one you must then sit in the other to make the wish come true.

 

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Ignore a path down to the right and continue ahead and gently uphill past The Hermitage until the path forks
- follow the Coast to Coast path down to the right . . .

 

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. . . at this time of year the woodland floor is carpeted with spring flowers.

 

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As you descend the path you'll hear it, before you see it, a very pretty waterfall - Falling Foss (approx 30 feet high).

Falling Foss is partially hidden by foliage but can be quite spectacular after heavy rainfall -
to get a better view you need to be almost a mountaineer to scramble very carefully down a steep slope.

 

Just past Falling Foss is the currently derelict building of Midge Hall, a former keeper's cottage, then a museum.

(On the day of the walk the building was 'For Sale' - the shaded woodland setting is superb
though quite a bit of DIY will be required - I hope next time I pass it's been restored to its former glory!)

 

Continue ahead past Midge Hall and cross the beck via a wooden footbridge . . .

 

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. . . then 50 yards further on go across a stone road bridge, then turn right to follow the stream on the other side.

On a day like today this is a lovely woodland walk - continue ahead with the main stream on your right . . .

 

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. . . parts of the path are stepped amongst the tangled tree roots.

 

At Grid Ref 893 024 you arrive at the popular picnic and beauty spot of May Beck,
accessible via a narrow minor road which leads to the nearby car park

 

On a fine summer's day you'll find it crowded here with visitors - though is there any wonder?

Continue the walk ahead, crossing the road and keeping to the left of the left-hand stream (Blea Hill Beck) . . .

 

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. . . though further upstream a series of small stones and slabs criss-cross the beck.

The path is sheltered and very picturesque on this part of the walk.

 

About a mile beyond May Beck picnic spot the path approaches an old sheepfold . . .

 

. . . on the OS map it's referred to as John Bond's Sheep House

John Bond was a local shepherd - the stone-walled enclosures were used for sorting sheep at shearing times
and for collecting the flock prior to bringing the sheep down from the moor to the farm.

 

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Just past the sheep house cross a small wooden footbridge (seen above left - looking back)
then follow the path to the left along the eastern edge of the forest (Newton House Plantation).

At Grid Ref 898 016 cross a stile to the right onto a moorland track and follow this in a roughly northerly direction.

 

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At Grid Ref 901 021 the path reaches Cross Dyke running west to east on Sneaton Low Moor
Near here, a few yards to the left of the path, half-hidden amongst the deep heather are a couple of standing stones
- the larger one is known as Old Wife's Neck for obvious reasons!

 

Continue along the track (Old Robin Hood's Bay Road) in a north-easterly direction for another a mile to the signpost (above)
- from here is an excellent view of the North Sea at Robin Hood's Bay and Brow Moor to the right near Ravenscar

 

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At the signpost take the track to the left, walking in a westerly direction
- soon, near a gate, you come to the remains of
John Cross where the track joins the Old Salt or Fish Road from Saltersgate.

"Cemented into the socket is a two foot four inch broken boundary marker with 'C' inscribed on the south face
which marked the boundary of the Cholmley Estate. The initial 'C' refers to George Cholmley Esq., of Whitby Abbey,
his ancestor Sir Richard Cholmley the first Lord of Whitby was a descendent of Hugh Cholmondeley
whose family can be traced at least as far back as the Norman Conquest.
It is thought that the cross probably received its name from John de Steyngrave,
who was Abbot of Whitby from 1245 until 1258."

('An Illustrated Guide to the Crosses on the North Yorkshire Moors' - Elizabeth Ogilvie & Audrey Sleightholme)

 

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From John Cross go through the wooden gate and follow the farm track across the field
- it bears right and eventually reaches a surfaced road (the access road to May Beck picnic area) near some farm buildings.

Turn left down the road then on a bend look for a public footpath sign to the right
- cross the stile and follow the path down to a footbridge and go across the beck and uphill to the left.

 

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Follow the path and climb over a dry-stone wall stile into a wood - continue through the wood then along the top edge . . .

 

. . . with occasional panoramic views west across May Beck valley towards Newton House Plantation . . .

 

. . . and Sneaton High Moor

 

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At this time of year it's nice to see the young lambs playing - summer's almost here!

 

Continue to head north, with the field walls on your left passing Newton Farm - the path eventually reaches a surfaced road.

Turn left and walk down the road which leads back to Littlebeck and the starting point of the walk
- the road is very steep in parts and you'll be glad you're going downhill!

 

location map


 

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