North York Moors CAM


Saturday 13th January 2001

Weather: Sunny & glorious

Today's walk: Hole of Horcum - Skelton Tower

( 6 miles )


Hole of Horcum

The Hole of Horcum is a vast, 400ft deep natural hollow and measures of a mile across

It has been eroded over thousands of years by the action of springs,
although legend has it that it was created when a giant named Wade, who was in fact a Saxon chief,
grabbed a 'handful' of earth to throw at his wife, Bell - the soil missed its target
and landed to form the 800ft high hill of Blakey Topping which lies about a mile to the east


. . .

Today's walk starts at the Saltergate car park (Grid Ref: 853937) by the side of the A169 Whitby to Pickering road

Cross over the road to the path that runs along the top of the hollow - turn right and follow it until
you reach the ladder stile (above left) - cross the stile and follow the steep path down to the valley bottom

Levisham Beck, which runs along the base of the valley, is fed by several smaller streams that flow down the hillsides
- on the photograph (above right) you can just make out a hang-glider above the horizon
I met the 'pilot' back at the car park at the end of the walk - he told me he had managed to stay airborne
on the rising thermals for 2 hours before a bad landing ruined his day and also his camcorder!


After passing the disused ruins of Low Horcum Farm follow the field path along the side of the valley
ignoring the tracks leading into the woods on your left


Here we look back to the Hole of Horcum from the stile which we next cross . . .


. . . before following the narrow path alongside an old stone wall and crossing a little footbridge at this charming beauty spot

Shortly after, cross a little plank bridge over a tributary stream and then turn right along the footpath
signposted to Dundale Pond, and follow it gently uphill along the tree-lined Dundale Griff
( 'Griff' is a local name for a small, steep-sided valley - there's another close by, strangely named Pigtrough Griff )


At the top of the griff, ignore the path to the left and head straight on towards the signpost
which can just be seen on the horizon where . . .


. . . you come to a junction of tracks near Dundale Pond, today completely iced over

A nearby plaque reads: 'Dundale Pond - this small valley was given to the monks of Malton Priory in about 1230
as pasture for their sheep, cattle and horses. Dundale Pond was probably made by this time as a place for stock to drink'


From the pond follow the track ahead signposted 'Station' and when you reach a stone wall
bear off slightly right along a prominent track across the heather and on reaching the crest of the hill
you'll enjoy the above view and your first glimpse of a stone ruin in the far distance ( just left of the centre of the picture )

Follow the track downhill as it bears first right, then left before arriving at the ruins of . . .


. . . Skelton Tower


. . .

Skelton Tower was built as a shooting lodge in 1850 by the Rev Robert Skelton, Vicar of Levisham
Some say he wrote his sermons in there, others prefer to believe he enjoyed a quiet drink!


From the edge of the precipice just a few feet from Skelton Tower there is a magnificent view to the north of Newton Dale
The North York Moors Railway winds its way along the bottom of this steep-sided, heavily forested gorge
which was carved out by glacial meltwaters

When we arrived at this spot, the sheep in the photograph was enjoying a meal of the bright red berries off
the holly bush which is just catching the last rays of the sun as it begins to go down


. . .

From Skelton Tower follow the path to the right along the edge of the escarpment with Newton Dale far below on your left

Continue past an old quarry ( above right ) and the path soon merges with a broader track which more or less
follows the contour of the bottom of the hillside on your right for the next couple of miles or so


A look back south across the heather moor and Levisham Bottoms into the bright sunshine


About a mile from the end of the walk you get your first glimpse of Fylingdales Early Warning Radar Station
which can be just seen on the horizon towards the left of the photograph

A truncated pyramid, rather like a child's sand castle, has replaced the huge domes better known as the 'Golf Balls'


Continue along the track until it bears right and steeply uphill eventually reaching a stile and gate
near the ladder stile we crossed at the beginning of the walk

Looking north we see RAF Fylingdales, with just below it, Barr Farm ( sleeps 14 ) and on the right, Saltersgate Inn

The Inn was famous in the past for hosting smugglers and for being haunted.
It is reputed that in 1801 a customs man tried to arrest some smugglers and was clubbed to death by one of them
- his body was buried beneath the fire hearth and the fire was lit and has burned continuously for the last 200 years


Looking south from near the same spot to where we started, the sun is low in the sky over the Hole of Horcum

From here follow the same path we came down and back to the car park

This is a highly recommended walk, especially in fair weather



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