North York Moors CAM


Thursday 25th January 2001

Weather: Mainly sunny - a lovely day

Today's walk: Danby Moors Centre - Commondale - Danby Low Moor

( 9 miles )


Today's walk starts at the North York Moors centre at Danby Lodge (Grid Ref: 716 084)

Formerly a shooting lodge, the Moors Centre was created and opened to the public in 1976.
The Centre not only provides tourist information but there are also tea rooms, a gift shop, a book section,
leaflets with local walks, educational facilities and a display of crafts and traditions from the North York Moors
There's also a large grassy picnic area in the grounds - it's well worth a visit


. . .

There are many fine walks that begin at Danby Lodge . . .


. . . today we start by going through the gate across the road behind the Centre and into a small wood

Heading steadily uphill in a northerly direction we are soon rewarded
with this lovely view down into the meadow on the right

The path continues along the hillside but we soon leave it on our left through a gate onto the moor
and after following a good track in a westerly direction for a few hundred yards . . .


. . . we get our first glimpse of the village rooftops of Danby in the foreground
with Ainthorpe further on (centre left) and Castleton on the hill in the very far distance


On arriving at the crossroads near the Duke of Wellington pub in Danby
go straight across and after about 50 yards turn right up the track which passes by Hollin Top Farm

Follow the track round to the left and then through a gate and at a junction of paths, go through the gate on your left
and follow a walled lane in a south westerly direction and then at an angle to your right towards a birch wood


Here's the view south-west to Danby Low Moor ( a different one to that we visit later ) in the mid-distance
and beyond into Danby Dale with Castleton Rigg on the horizon


. . .

Soon you'll reach the woods of Danby Park - in medieval times an enclosed deer park for nearby Danby Castle -
I always find this a pleasant little wood to walk through in any season - by the way, this sheep wasn't with us . . .

On emerging from the wood follow the track past the farm at Park Nook and then near a seat above a tennis court
you'll come to the main road into Castleton two-thirds of the way up the steep bank

Turn right and climb the rest of the bank ( don't complain, wait until the day you have to start at the bottom )


At the top of the hill where the road turns sharp right, take the good track to your left and follow it downhill
enjoying lovely views north-west along Commondale with the Esk Valley railway line down in the bottom of the valley

I'd love to see the return of the steam trains along this line - just like the ones that run from Grosmont to Pickering
( Just look at this photo above and imagine it - I bet you'll agree with me . . .)


Soon you'll reach the stone buildings of Box Hall - I believe there are cottages here to rent for the holiday season


Continue along the track - here we take a look back across this lovely dale with Ainthorpe Rigg in the far distance


Today I enjoyed the company of two of my former workmates, Stan Lax and Jimmy Dunwell
- former refers to work - they've retired, I haven't!
( My day will come . . . )

Stan and Jim walk regularly together every Thursday - all being welI, I hope to join them more often when I can


. . .

Continue straight on, ignoring the turning left down to the tiny railway station
and soon you'll arrive at the village of Commondale

At one time, Commondale boasted an extensive brickworks which prospered for almost a century until the 1950's
Now it's a sleepy moorland village which relies heavily on passing tourists and walkers such as ourselves
The 'amenities' include a post office, tea rooms, toilets, telephone box and pub ( The Cleveland Inn )

I'm afraid to say we didn't boost the economy at all today - we sat on the seat above and enjoyed a packed lunch
- then we set off uphill on the path to the right of the tea-rooms


After a steady climb, part of it along a well-preserved stone trod, we turn and look back east towards Commondale
with Commondale Moor and North Ings Moor and Plantation beyond


. . .

The history behind these old trods, which you come across on many parts of the North York Moors is fascinating . . .

. . . built for travellers who have long since disappeared, they were constructed of stone slabs,
possibly laid as recently as the 18th Century for trains of packhorses, or by Quakers in the 18th and 19th Centuries,
or maybe even by monks as far back as the 12th Century

Often referred to as 'pannier tracks', their main purpose was to enable 'easier going' across the wet and peaty moorlands

If you want to know when the couple of trods we came across today were laid, my answer is "Sorry, I haven't a clue!"
What I can say is, "thank you" to whoever did put them in place - they certainly serve their purpose

There's an excellent booklet I can recommend with superb illustrations, published by the North York Moors National Park
and entitled 'Old Pannier Tracks' - it only costs 1.50 and is great value - I've bought it so it must be . . .


. . .

The stone trod brings us to the quiet road that leads to Commondale - we walk along it in the opposite direction
until we come to a set of 'crossroads' - three out of the four routes are surfaced, ours isn't - it's just straight on, wet and rough

In the photo ( above left ) we come across an ancient waymark stone with the word 'DANBY' clearly carved on it's face

I forgot earlier to introduce Jim's dog, Luke ( above right ) - he's lovely, but don't mislay anything - you'll never get it back!


Well, I can't explain this - to me it looks like some ancient 'iron-age' photographer's left his tripod behind . . .

. . . looking north from our track with the top of Freebrough Hill just peeping up on the left horizon
and in the very far distance a glimpse of the North Sea


About a mile further on, after negotiating a very wet and 'rugged' section of the track
we turn right at a 'public bridleway' sign and head south across Danby Low Moor

At first the path is poor, and the moor bleak, but soon it improves and we begin to enjoy some more great views

The OS map refers to this track as the 'Siss Cross Road' and soon we reach Siss Cross itself ( above, looking east )
- the original cross has been replaced by this stone waymarker - the base has since sunk deeply into the peaty ground


. . .

The grouse-shooting butts on this particular stretch of moor strongly resemble war bunkers!


Eventually the path reaches the surfaced road that leads to Danby - go straight across and follow the track
down to the right before meeting your outward route - turn left and go back the the way you came

Here's a lovely view ( above ) to finish with - looking south to Ainthorpe Rigg


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