Tuesday 30th August 2005
Weather: Sunny & warm
Thornton-le-Dale - Ellerburn - Howl Dale
( 5½ miles )
Today's walk starts at one of the prettiest villages in Yorkshire - Thornton-le-Dale (situated on the A170, 2½ miles east of Pickering)
There's a large car
park (Grid Ref 835 829) near the village centre - from there walk
to the village green where you will see the
market cross (over 600 years old) and the wooden stocks (last used in 1874)
Go across the main road and turn right . . .
. . . soon passing this neat row of Almshouses (still occupied)
At a bridge turn left to follow the tarmac path towards the most photographed cottage in Yorkshire - Beck Isle Cottage.
Built in the 17th
Century with a cruck frame and thatched roof, it stands on the
banks of Thornton Beck
and photographs of it appear regularly on chocolate boxes, jigsaws and calendars.
Continue along the path then cross the stream over a wooden bridge and turn left down a narrow road . . .
. . . which leads to Thornton Mill which was originally a flour mill but since the 1960's has produced animal feeds.
Follow the footpath to the right of the mill and as you pass note the mill race to your left.
Continue along the streamside path keeping Thornton Beck to your left and head for some farm buildings
On reaching the buildings (Low Farm) turn left and cross the bridge towards the little Church of St Hilda.
The present church, shorn of its tower, is
early Norman, but contains a number of surviving Saxon and Danish
features from a previous stone building
- it was here in the early days of Christianity in the north, that the monks of Whitby Abbey established their first house of worship, built of wood.
It's difficult to
believe in these tranquil surroundings of Ellerburn farming
hamlet that it was once a thriving industrial centre with bleach
and paper mills and stone quarrying nearby - now Ellerburn has reverted to agriculture and is once more a peaceful, slumbering backwater.
passing to the left of the church and follow the track on the
right of a long, narrow field (Kirkdale Slack)
before entering woodland via a wooden gate (above right).
Follow the track
through the forest ignoring a fork to the right before emerging
onto a tarmac road (access road to Dalby Forest Drive)
- turn left and go along the narrow road then left again at a main road and follow this for about 600 yards.
The road eventually leads back to Thornton-le-Dale but leave it on the right (GR 838 846) to join a farm access track
Just after the
track bears right look for a footpath sign to the left - follow
the path along the edge of the field
with first a stone wall on your right then a hedge - the track bears right and downhill towards woodland . . .
. . . where today we passed a field of maize which reached about 2 metres in height
At the bottom of
the wood turn left and follow the wide vehicle track for the next
mile or so straight on along the valley bottom
- it can be very muddy after rain but in most places there are drier paths just to the side of the track.
This wooded valley
is Howl Dale, typical of the many 'howls' to be found on the
southern edge of the North York Moors,
long, narrow and dry (without stream) heavily wooded with both deciduous and evergreen trees.
At the end of the
valley, where the track forks, take the left hand path which
emerges from the woods at the edge of a field
- go straight along the right hand edge of the field towards Hagg House.
Turn left at the
farm access road, cross a cattle grid, then turn right (footpath
sign) and follow a narrow path up through the trees
- on emerging from the wood follow the edge of the field with a hedge on your left.
Cross a stile in a
hedge on your left near a clump of tall trees then follow the
path across three more fields (via stiles)
- the path bears slightly down to the right in the last field where you eventually reach the main road.
reaching the road, turn left and follow it back into the village
- near the car park there is a pond, a nice peaceful place to sit and rest after the walk.
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