Thursday 15th August 2002

Weather: Sunny and warm

( and the purple heather's in full bloom...! )


Today's Walk: Goathland - Lilla Cross - Eller Beck

( 10 miles - Moderate )


 

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Today's superb walk begins from the railway station (Grid Ref. 837 013) at Goathland,
the moorland village known as 'Aidensfield' in the popular TV series 'Heartbeat'.

If you're lucky enough to be there at the right time you might catch sight of one of the steam trains
of the
North Yorkshire Moors Railway

 

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It's worth spending a while looking round the old station which has been so well restored
that it looks like little has changed since it was first built.

Cross the footbridge and leave the station platform via the white gate (above right) climbing steeply straight up ahead
- at first it's a bit of a scramble but the path soon levels out.

 

Pause for a breather at the top and admire the 'aerial' view of the station and the village beyond.

A track to the right will lead you to the road leading out of Goathland which is eventually where you want to be
- however, I chose to go straight on ahead along a grassy track between bracken and heather...

 

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...to capture this view back to the village and beyond from an old reservoir (looking south-west).

John Skinn kindly e-mailed me to explain the origin of the reservoir -

"It is associated with the whinstone quarries which are situated about a mile further north. The track above
the station was once a horse-drawn tramway which leads to a drift mine entrance at Grid Ref. 840 027.
This ran underground to the Whinstone Dyke. If you go there today water is pouring from the drift.
Originally this water was channelled along the tramway to the ponds and these reservoirs were used
to power a Pelton wheel in Goathland station yard which drove a crusher for the whinstone."

 

The price paid for visiting the reservoir is to try to navigate your way across a mile of rough moorland
to reach this footpath sign (Grid Ref. 847 018) by the side of the minor road I mentioned earlier.

There is a footpath marked on the OS map but I couldn't find it - it was just a matter of aiming roughly east
trudging through knee-high heather and marshy ground until eventually (and thankfully!) emerging onto the road.

From here continue on uphill along the wide grassy verge by the roadside until reaching a car parking area
opposite a road junction at Grid Ref. 852 028.

 

At the car park, turn right along a good track (above - looking back) passing some old whinstone quarries.

The Whinstone Ridge runs in an almost perfect south-east to north-west straight line across the entire country
from North Yorkshire to the west coast of Scotland - it was formed by volcanic action 58 million years ago when
lava forced its way through a narrow fissure to the earth's surface. Whinstone (or basalt) is a very hard, grey stone
and was quarried for use as road making material or moulded into cobbles - often seen in market squares.

 

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After a gate the track emerges onto the very busy A169 road which runs from Sleights to Pickering.

Carefully cross the road and go through another gate onto the moorland track (above left), still following
the line of the Whinstone Ridge. You soon arrive at these two standing stones by the left hand side of the track.
I imagine they are waymarkers from an ancient York to Whitby road - there were some words and dates carved
on them but very hard to decipher - from what I could read it said "YORK ASSIZES" so make what you like of that!

Continue straight on for another mile or so ignoring a track that curves away to the right
- just keep aiming for the forest ahead.

 

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You are now on Sneaton High Moor and soon arrive at another standing stone - York Cross (Grid Ref. 878 015)

It consists of a sturdy shaft sitting in an 18 inch square base. Not much is known as to the history of the cross,
though it is most likely linked to the fact that it also lies near a number of old tracks which led to Whitby, one of which
came from York - hence the name York Cross. As with the other two standing stones, this is pure speculation.

 

The track leaves the open moor and enters Newton House Plantation.

 

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Turn right at the first forestry track (Grid Ref. 884 013) and follow the wide track ahead bearing right at the next junction
- it was near here where we saw a young adder (above right) slowly slithering across our path.

 

The adder is Britain's only venomous snake and uses venom for catching prey, usually small mammals and lizards.
Adult adders are usually up to 66 cms long. Background colouration is a light shade of grey or brown with
a black zigzag marking along the length of the back. They are quite timid animals and usually move away quickly
when disturbed, but will bite in defence if trodden upon or handled.

If bitten, medical assistance should be sought, but adder bites are very rarely fatal to humans.

Adders are apparently quite common on the North York Moors and are mostly seen basking in warm sunshine
but I've only ever seen half a dozen or so during all my walks .

 

The wide track leads you pleasantly on and out of the forest back onto Sneaton High Moor...

 

...from where there's a clear view south-west towards Fylingdales Early Warning Radar Station

 

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At a junction of tracks (Grid Ref. 886 993) turn left soon arriving at a standing stone on Louven Howe
close by an Ordnance Survey trig point.

Continue along the track past the stone to the signpost (above right) at a junction of paths and turn right...

 

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...soon arriving at one of the most ancient and finest examples of all the crosses on the North York Moors - Lilla Cross.

Lilla Cross is situated only about a mile north-east of the Fylingdales Early Warning Radar Station on Lilla Rigg,
the two structures, within sight of each other, providing a massive contrast to the history of these moors.

The cross marks the grave of Lilla, chief minister to King Edwin of Northumbria - in 625 AD he saved the life of Edwin
by throwing himself between the king and an assassin receiving fatal wounds from a poisoned dagger. The Bronze Age
round barrow, which allegedly contained his remains and on which the cross stands is known as Lilla Howe.
However, excavation work carried out in the 1920's found evidence of pieces of ornate jewellery dated 200 - 250
years later than Lilla's death, so it is unlikely that this was his final resting place.

A plaque by the side of Lilla Howe reads . . .

LILLA CROSS

ERECTED ABOUT AD 625 OVER THE REPUTED GRAVE OF LILLA, AN OFFICER OF THE COURT OF EDWIN,
KING OF NORTHUMBRIA, WHO DIED SAVING THE LIFE OF THE KING. BELIEVED TO BE THE OLDEST
CHRISTIAN MEMORIAL IN THE NORTH OF ENGLAND. ORIGINALLY ERECTED ON MOORS BETWEEN PICKERING
AND ROBIN HOOD'S BAY, RE-SET IN 1933 BY THE NORTH RIDING COUNTY COUNCIL, REMOVED IN 1952
BY ROYAL ENGINEERS TO AVOID DESTRUCTION FROM GUNFIRE ON ARTILLERY RANGES.

LILLA CROSS WAS RE-SET HERE IN 1962 BY 508 FIELD SQUADRON ROYAL ENGINEERS TERRITORIAL ARMY
OF HORDEN, CO DURHAM IN CONJUNCTION WITH THE WHITBY RURAL DISTRICT COUNCIL

The view south-east from the cairn next to Lilla Cross towards Harwood Dale and Langdale and Broxa Forest.

 

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From Lilla Cross a rough path leads west and slightly downhill to a gate (above left). Go through the gate, follow the track
and after a couple of hundred yards or so look for a pile of stones (Grid Ref. 883 986) just to the right of the track.

Leave the track at the pile of stones and follow a narrow path through the heather still heading roughly east (above right)
- this poor and sometimes very wet and boggy path is difficult to follow at times. If you keep about 50 yards to the right
of a line of white posts you won't go far wrong - beware, if you stray too far left you're on Ministry of Defence land!

This path is part of the arduous and infamous Lyke Wake Walk.

 

Although difficult to follow, the path leads gently downhill getting closer to the little valley to the right
- at Grid Ref. 869 985 you should arrive near the above sheepfold...

 

...from where there are excellent views across to Fylingdales Radar Station
- it looks like a giant sand castle to me!

 

Eventually, the path gets drier and better and reaches the road bridge over Eller Beck.

Turn right at the road and cross the bridge walking uphill along the grass verge to a road junction at Grid Ref. 856 986.
Turn left at the junction, cross a cattle grid and follow the edge of the minor road for about the next of a mile.

 

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After crossing another bridge over a stream (still Eller Beck) and passing beneath a stone railway bridge,
turn right at the old railway house (above left) through a gate marked 'Sadler House'.

Follow this good track which is the original route of the old railway, the new line being down to your right.

 

A North Yorkshire Moors steam train conveniently passed by at this point, packed with passengers
- the driver kindly gave us a 'toot' of his whistle creating a little puff of steam.

These old, beautifully restored steam trains are so much more romantic than the modern diesel and
electric trains we see on our main lines - and are probably more reliable!

Looking south-east, Fylingdales Radar Station can still clearly be seen on the horizon.

The old trackbed continues straight on for about a further mile, emerging beside the Goathland Hotel
from where the road leads left to the village centre car parks or right to the railway station.

 

location map



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