Wednesday, 2 December 2009

CB-Walking: Lealholm Loops

Following last week's exciting jaunt to Barnard Castle, today's expeditions brought us back to our own local terrain: the North York Moors - where our walking activity centred around the Castleton area.

Unfortunately, as a result of the torrential rainfall today, only ten people turned out for walking activities. Consequently, the three official SRC walks were cancelled. However, three of us (PB, JJ and LM) decided to do a modified C-walk (which PB would have led had our events not been rained off).

The original route of the C-walk would have taken us from Brown Hill {NZ 671 117} (see picture below) to Lealholm via Castleton, Ainthorpe, Danby Lodge and Houlsyke. This would have involved a distance of about 9 miles. Bearing this in mind, we added 'something' at the front, a few of loops in the middle and a couple of loops at the end in order to convert our route into a B-walk. Our relatively late start precluded extending our distance to that of an A-walk.

Brown Hill
In order to facilitate our expedition we used two cars. We left one in the car park at Lealholm and the other in a small lay-by at Lockwood Beck (our new starting point) near the junction of Smeathorns Road and the A171 {NZ 674 139}. From this location we headed off (in pouring rain) in a southerly bearing along Smeathorns Road in the direction of Moorsholm Moor. After an uphill trek involving a climb of about 200 feet we arrived at the originally planned starting point for the C-walk near Brown Hill {NZ 671 117}. This initial trek along the road added about 1.4 miles onto what was to come later.

From the chevrons on the bend in Smeathorns Road, we continued our southerly trek over water-logged moorland to meet a minor road on Sand Hill at {NZ 668 107} - just east of Commondale. As we walked east along this road, some kindly, elderly gentleman stopped his car and asked us if we would like a lift anywere. We gracefully, gratefully and thankfully declined his offer and explained what great fun we were having. He must have thought we were crazy! We continued along the road for about 330 yards to find a westerly going public footpath at {NZ 670 106}. We followed this downhill to {NZ 668 102} and then turned left along a good track that took us on a south-easterly bearing to Moorside {NZ 671 100}.

We continued along the cart-track in a south-easterly direction. Our route now followed the railway track and Commondale Beck (both on our right and below us in the valley) until we reached Box Hall {NZ 677 092} and then the minor road at {NZ 681 087}. The original C-walk would now have gone down the road to Castleton station. However, at this point we introduced the first loop of the day. We crossed the road and followed a track up towards the disused quarries at {NZ 683 088} and then dropped down to Park Nook {NZ 685 086} - rejoining the road again at {NZ 684 085}.

Turning left, we passed under the railway bridge and crossed the River Esk using the road bridge. Judging by the volume of water flowing under the bridge, the river was obviously in spate as a result of all the rain that had fallen recently. We now followed the road uphill into the centre of Castleton where we took a short refreshment break for tea/coffee in Castleton Tea Rooms.

Leaving the tea rooms, we turned left and went downhill for about 140 yards and then, at the road junction, turned right and followed the road around towards Danby Low Moor. We did an anticlockwise half-circle around 'The Howe' in order to reach Howe Farm. From here we followed a public footpath in a south-easterly direction to meet a minor road at {NZ 699 075} - near the vicarage on Longlands Lane. Turning left, we went along the road for about 85 yards and then took a path (on our right) across the fields in order to reach the village of Ainthorpe.

We navigated our way through the village so as to find an easterly going track at {NZ 704 078} which we followed to a path junction at {NZ 712 078}. Turning left, we now headed north to reach a minor road (Easton Lane) and Kadelands House {NZ 711 079}. We followed Easton Lane in an easterly direction for about 260 yards and then turned left onto a north-easterly bearing in order to follow a public footpath. This took us across the railway track at {NZ 715 081} and the River Esk using a footbridge at {NZ 717 082}. At this point we undertook our second loop of the day - a diversion to The Moors Centre at Danby Lodge (see picture below). We were attracted to the Centre by the loud music that was being played there. As we found out when we got there, this was part of a Christmas Fair that was being held. We lingered here a while in order to sample the Christmas spirit.

Danby Lodge
Leaving Danby Lodge on a south-easterly bearing, we followed the road to {NZ 719 082} where we turned onto a footpath on our left. This took us across a water-logged field to Park House {NZ 722 081}. As we made our way through the farm buildings, we managed to find some shelter from the rain in an open barn within which we were able to take our long-overdue lunch stop.

From our lunch venue we followed the farm access track in an easterly direction to meet a minor road at {NZ 725 080}. We used this road to pass along Oakley Side in order to reach the small village of Houlsyke {NZ 737 080}. We passed through the village and continued along the road until we reached a path on our left at {NZ 740 078}. At this point we embarked on our third loop of the day. This loop took us to Lawns Farm {NZ 744 079} and Hole-i'-th'-Ellers {NZ 748 083}. From here we had intended to pass along the north- end of Park Wood. However when we got to the gate at {NZ 752 084}, we found the flooding at Park Head Beck was so great, we were not able to get across. This required us to re-route - via {NZ 751 085} - to a footbridge at {NZ 751 086}.

Once we had crossed the beck, we dropped down to Park Wood where we picked up the easterly going footpath at {NZ 753 084}. We now followed this to a path junction near Elm Ridge at {NZ 076 083} where we now joined the route of the original C-walk - which would have come along the south side of Park Wood on a path from {NZ 746 077}.

From the path junction we made our way downhill to the village of Lealholm {NZ 763 076} (see the picture below) where our expedition was to terminate. However, before finishing we decided to walk along the road from the car park area to the Shepherd's Purse and back. We then went over Lealholm Bridge (passing 'The Board Inn' on our right) in order to climb up to the road junction at {NZ 761 073}. We then returned to the car park in Lealholm. These were the final two loops of the day - and were needed in order to bring our mileage above 12 miles.

Although we were a little late setting off, and the weather was somewhat inclement, we had a great expedition to Lealholm today. Because of the heavy rainfall, we saw lots of 'watery scenes' that we would not have otherwise encountered. Indeed, as we approached Lealholm, the raging flood waters descending from the high-ground on the moors above Oakley Walls towards Park Wood were particularly spectacular and provided a challenge to our navigational skills.

Use the buttons below to see where we went, how we did and some of the sights we saw.




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