Friday 27th January 2006

Weather: Cloudy & overcast - low cloud/sleet/snow on the moor tops

Clay Bank - Urra Moor - Tripsdale (including the Ship Stone)

( 9 miles )



Today's walk begins at Clay Bank car park (Grid Ref. 572 036) - leave the car park and walk south-east alongside
the B1257 Stokesley to Helmsley road for 200 yards before turning left through a couple of gates onto the Cleveland Way.



Follow the path quite steeply up the hillside - half-way up, the view above is looking north
across the Cleveland Plain towards Teesside with Roseberry Topping prominent centre-right


The path eventually reaches Carr Ridge on Urra Moor (above looking back to Hasty Bank)
- ignore the path to the right near the CW sign after the second gate and go straight ahead


The clear track over Urra Moor is very easy to follow - today we were heading into drifting, low cloud



The trig point on Round Hill at Botton Howe (Grid Ref. 594 016), is situated on an ancient burial ground
- it is the highest point on the North York Moors, lying at a height of 1,490 feet (454m).


. .

Within a couple of hundred yards of each other, next to the track near Round Hill,
are two ancient standing stones - the Hand Stone and the Face Stone.



About a mile beyond Round Hill turn right along a wide sandy-coloured track heading south-east,
then at another junction of tracks bear right (west) and downhill crossing a stream - Hodge Beck (above left)

Just past the beck on the left there's a couple of huge, weathered boulders . . .


. . . known as the Badger Stone (don't ask me why but I can see scary faces....)


Follow the track onwards and gently upwards for a mile until reaching another junction.
Turn right passing a small and waterlogged sandstone quarry seen above - Cringle Moor & Cold Moor distant.


After another a mile or so there's another junction of these grouse-shooter's vehicle tracks (it's much like the A1 up here!)
- normally you'd turn right, but if you need a bit of shelter and comfort for a packed lunch, turn left as we did in today's sleet storm . . .


. . . and within 500 yards there are a couple of welcoming shooting huts just to the side of the track


Enjoy your refreshments in 'comfort' - please don't abuse the 'accommodation' and don't leave any litter behind.

*** A few months after I first put this walk and photograph on my website I had an email asking me 
"Who is the ghostly lady appearing at the window at the far end of the hut?"

Well, to be honest, I have no idea and hadn't even noticed myself - but there certainly does seem to be a ghostly image there!
On closer study, I must admit I can see a well-dressed Victorian/Edwardian lady in a hat carrying a basket of fruit maybe? Whoo-o-o!!!



And don't forget to close the door when you leave.

(By the way, while we were in there supping from our warm flasks, the sun came out - it was the best part of the day and we were indoors!)


Retrace your steps past the afore-mentioned track-junction, and head west towards the distant Cleveland Hills
- suddenly the track plunges downwards into the wild and wonderful valley of Tripsdale


I quote a few lines from a favourite book - 'The Walkers Guide to the Cleveland Hills' by Tom Scott Burns

'The ruins of an old dwelling can be seen above the ford in the valley, which is said to have been the home of an old cobbler.
Apparently he used to sell clogs, shoes and slippers outside the old Fox & Hounds Inn at Seave Green on Sundays
to the congregation as they came down from Urra Church.'


'A little further down the valley, below the rock face of Kay Nest,
is a large boulder known locally as the 'Ship Stone' from its likeness to the bow of a sailing vessel.'

To reach the 'Ship Stone you need to leave the track on the left, either at the 'cobbler's ruin', first crossing some marshy ground
or at the bottom of the valley, just before the ford across the stream, scrambling along a marshy, tree-rooted path
- either way, it's well worth the extra effort to appreciate its sheer size and to read a Latin inscription carved on its east side.



Another of my favourite little books is 'Rambles in Cleveland' by Michael Heavysides, first published in 1901 - he recalls from his youth:

'It is decided that only half of our party shall descend into the valley, and those who are going make for a certain point,
and reaching it find themselves opposite what they fondly imagine to be t'Ship Steean.
I am of the party, of course, but after we have pushed our way down a wilderness of bracken, heather, boulders and bilberries,
we find that this is not the boulder we are in search of.
We soon see the real one, however, still further away down the valley;
and at last, by carefully zig-zagging downward, reach the object of our search.
We walk around it, mount to its summit, and take its measurements, which are as follows:-
Height 17 feet 6 inches, Width 20 feet, Length 61 feet;

and, assuming that the part hidden underground will counter-balance a falling away in thickness, it is estimated to weigh 1,500 tons!'


'The Latin inscrition, supposed to be the work of a schoolmaster named John Hart, who at one time resided in the dale,
is clearly borne out by the translation, and is as follows:-


which, translated into English, runs thus:-

All things are full of the Creator.
John Hart, a man of Bilsdale.

Oh, how I'd love to have been with them that hot, sunny afternoon in Tripsdale over 100 years ago - well, maybe just for one day . . .


I first visited Tripsdale about 10 years ago - it was midsummer and I will never forget it.
In contrast to the wild, heathery moorland on the hill tops, in the valley below it was greenery everywhere (unlike today).
There was deep bracken, shrubbery and trees in full leaf - it was almost like visiting the set of 'The Lost World'
- go there in mid/late summer and see for yourself.

Michael Heavysides describes it best over 100 years ago . . .

'The scene before us is wild and grand, and the sun is still lighting up the valley.
Large lichen-covered boulders rolled down centuries ago, have their summits and sides partly covered with heather, in full bloom.
Not a blade of grass is to be seen in the valley, as the bracken, heather and bilberries carpet it o'er.
Here and there trees are growing in such strange positions that we ask ourselves how they found roothold.'


Back to the walk - continue on and climb the steep track from Tripsdale Beck -
on reaching yet another junction of tracks, turn right (north) along the clear 'highway'


The photo above is looking south-west across Bilsdale as yet another shower of sleet disappears down the valley


Another view west across Bilsdale towards the village of Chop Gate


Leave the wide track at Grid Ref 573 009 and follow a somrtimes wet and boggy path north, keeping just above an old stone wall
- soon, the distinctive silhouette of Roseberry Topping comes into view straight ahead.


There are excellent views from here north-west over the farming hamlet of Urra
towards the Wainstones on Hasty Bank (centre right) and Cold Moor (centre left) with Raisdale in between.


The B1257 Helmsley to Stokesley road can be seen in the centre of the photograph passing through a small 'nick'
in the landscape where the meltwaters of a huge glacier, which once formed the Cleveland Plain millions of years ago,
eventually flowed over with great force to form the valley of Bilsdale.

From here, continue to the Cleveland Way signpost seen earlier on the walk at the western edge of Urra Moor,
then turn left and downhill back to the start of the walk at Clay Bank car park.

location map


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