Thursday 12th September 2002

Weather: Damp & misty in the morning, glorious & sunny later in the afternoon

Today's Walk: Clay Bank - Bloworth Crossing - Bransdale - Tripsdale - Urra Moor

( 14 miles - Strenuous )


. .

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 gate onto the Cleveland Way.

Follow the path (paved in places) steeply up the hillside, passing through another couple of gates before emerging
onto Carr Ridge on Urra Moor - ignore the path to the right neat the CW sign after the second gate and go straight on.


The wide track over Urra Moor is very easy to follow - in weather like today's it can be very bleak up here.



Within a couple of hundred yards of each other, next to the track near Round Hill (Grid Ref. 594 016),
are two ancient standing stones - the Hand Stone and the Face Stone.

The trig point on Botton Howe, an ancient burial ground, situated about 50 yards north of the Hand Stone (above left),
is the highest point on the North York Moors, lying at a height of 1,490 feet (454m).



The path eventually reaches a disused railway trackbed at Grid Ref. 612 016 - turn right and follow the track
until it reaches a crossroads at Grid Ref. 616 015 - turn right again and head south-east along ancient Rudland Rigg.


. .

After about a mile, at Grid Ref. 626 999, look to the left for a large standing stone - the Cammon Stone (above left).

Half a mile further on on the right, at Grid Ref. 631 991, is another ancient moorland marker - Cockam (Cockan) Cross.

"Cockan Cross has a broken shaft standing on its medieval base, it is believed to be part of the original cross shaft
which has had directions carved on all four sides to be used as a waymarker:


The cross stands just off the ancient Rudland Rigg Road, which crosses one of the longest stretches of unhinhabited
moorland in North Yorkshire, and has probably been in use for over two thousand years."

('An Illustrated Guide to the North Yorkshire Moors - Elizabeth Ogilvie & Audrey Sleightholme)


A couple of hundred yards further on past Cockam Cross look for a small pile of stones on the right
- at this point follow a narrow track west through the heather until it widens into a clearer, stony track (above).


Just past the corner of the forest the views open out beyond the bracken to beautiful Bransdale
- even in this morning's poor visibility there was still something enchanting about its green fields
and small, red-tiled farms dotted about here and there.


Continue down the field path to a narrow road, then turn left for a hundred yards or so to Cow Sike Farm.
Climb over a stile in a wall to the right at Grid Ref. 625 981 then follow the path across a couple of fields
before reaching a gate which leads you down some steep, stone steps to the restored watermill buildings
of Bransdale Mill at Grid Ref. 621 979.


"The mill wall-ties display the initials 'W.S.' which stand for William Strickland, who rebuilt the mill in in 1842
after moving from Farndale. His son Emanuel (who became curate of Ingleby Greenhow for a short time)
carved a number of inscriptions on the mill buildings."

('The Walker's Guide to the Cleveland Hills' - Tom Scott Burns)


Looking back east towards the mill buildings from the old sundial.

From Bransdale Mill follow the field track south-west towards Colt House Farm. From the farm,
continue up a walled lane then bear slightly right before reaching a narrow, surfaced road.
Cross straight over and follow the steep path up the side of some old shale tips
and then continue on climbing the slope up through the heather.


It's quite a pull, so keep having a breather and turn to enjoy the views across Bransdale
- above looking back to Colt House Farm (marked as Bransdale Castle on older maps) from near the road.



The path through the heather is narrow in places but there are a number of small cairns marking the way.

Eventually the path meets a wide track (the medieval Thirkelsti road) near Stump Cross on Bransdale Ridge
at Grid Ref. 607 982, a good place to sit and rest and enjoy your packed lunch.

"Stump Cross has one of the largest bases of all the crosses, measuring two foot six inches square with a
broken shaft wedged into it. In 1829 the cross was called 'the cross with the hand' presumably because
the original shaft had a carved outstretched hand which many of the waymarkers on the moors had.
The cross stands on the medieval Thurkilsti track, one of four important roads crossing the moors from Helmsley.
A short distance from Stump Cross to the north-west, the Thurkilsti joins the Via Magna which in 1145AD
was called 'the great road coming from the Thurskilsti.'

('An Illustrated Guide to the Crosses on the North Yorkshire Moors' - Elizabeth Ogilvie & Audrey Sleightholme)


Leave Stump Cross and go left at a nearby track junction continuing in a north-east direction along a wide track.
After about of a mile you'll pass a couple of isolated wooden huts to your left on Slape Wath Moor
- these are used by grouse-shooting parties and provide walkers with welcome shelter if caught in a storm...

...which looked highly likely today looking south-west (above) at the threatening skies above Hagg House Moor.


Fortunately, the rain stayed away - about a mile further on, the track begins to descend into Tripsdale,
a green and secret little valley hidden away in the midst of these wild moors.

"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 and 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 rockface of Kay Nest - is a large boulder known locally as the 'Ship Stone',
from its likeness to the bow of a sailing vessel. A Latin inscription is carved on one of the sides as follows:


('A Walker's Guide to the Cleveland Hills' - Tom Scottt Burns)



The track climbs steeply up the other side where we had to make way for a couple of shepherds
driving their sheep down into the valley before upwards and onto the moor tops.


Here we look back to Tripsdale - soon the bracken will turn from green to golden before dying off in the winter.


Where the track reaches the crest of the ridge, a wonderful vista of Bilsdale opens up straight ahead.



At Grid Ref. 577 995, turn right and follow the wide track which follows the edge of the ridge…


…enjoying the superb views west across the valley towards the villages of Chop Gate and Seave Green.

Follow the track ahead to a T-junction where you turn left and downhill for a short way then turn right
just before a gate and follow a narrow path keeping more or less parallel with the drystone wall on the left
- this particular stretch of the walk can be particularly wet and boggy, even during periods of dry weather.


The underfoot conditions are worth putting up with for a short while, the rewards being even more
wonderful views across Bilsdale and down towards the tiny farming hamlet of Urra
and north-west across to Hasty Bank and the Cleveland Hills escarpment.

The path improves greatly once the marshy ground has been left behind as it winds its way
along the western edge of Urra Moor and down to a little gully then crossing over a pretty beck.

The path continues along to Carr Ridge…


…where you eventually arrive at the Cleveland Way signpost passed earlier, this time following its directions
left and downhill to retrace your steps of the first half-mile of the walk….


...enjoying glorious views north across the Cleveland Plain towards Roseberry Topping in the far distance.


Continue down to the road, turning right and back along to the car park at Clay Bank.
It's still worth pausing a few more minutes to enjoy the views before driving off back home.


location map

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