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Winter at the head of Bilsdale, North York Moors
Winter at the head of Bilsdale, North York Moors

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Route No. 60 - 5 January 2003
Chop Gate, Botton Head, Hasty Bank,
Cold Moor Bilsdale,
North York Moors . . .

Route map from Ordnance Survey Open Space service.

Map: OS Explorer OL26 North York Moors Western area. 1:25000


Threatening snow clouds as we left Chop Gate
Threatening snow clouds as we left Chop Gate

A welcome cup of tea in the shelter of a grouse butt
A welcome cup of tea in the shelter of a grouse butt

It's about 1.5km from the road in the valley bottom to the stone grouse shooters track on the edge of the moor. Usually there is a lovely view over Bilsdale but to-day the snow clouds were closing in and the scene was quite gloomy. At the track we turned left to head north following the track along the edge of the moor up the valley for almost 2km to Medd Cragg. Here we stopped in the shelter of a grouse butt for a drink and a sandwich.

This morning a friend and I drove to Chop Gate in Bilsdale and parked in the free carpark at the village hall at about 10.30. There was about 50mm of snow lying everywhere but the roads had been gritted and were fairly clear. There was a clear blue winter sky when we left home but the belt of snow cloud clinging to the coast was hanging around the head of Bilsdale - it's only a few miles to the sea at Teesmouth. We set off to climb up the east side of the valley on the path through William Beck Farm (always so neat and tidy).

Looking West across Bilsdale from the moorland track
Looking West across Bilsdale from the moorland track

Moorland track to Botton Head
Moorland track to Botton Head

Track down to the road at Clay Bank
Track down to the road at Clay Bank

Tough Swaledale sheep
Tough Swaledale sheep

Toboganing for all ages
Toboganing for all ages

From the trig point we took the Cleveland Way north west to the road at the top of Clay Bank. The Cleveland Way is paved over this section (very nicely done too) but in this weather the many feet had polished the snow into a treacherous icy skin on the cobbled steps making the Tobaggabing for all agesdescent very tricky. In the fields next to the road there were scores of poeple tobogganing on a series of slopes from a gentle toddler ride to a suicidal drop off the edge next to the woods - it looked like great fun.

Then we headed north east to keep on the stoney track towards Botton Head (Round Hill) the highest point on the moors at 454m (1488ft) above sea level. When we got there it was quite misty and cold but there was a hardy family all standing round the trig point to use it as a table for their lunch stop. 'Dad' claimed he had been bullied into stopping there, the teenage family continued glumly munching their sandwiches, determined that dad's little joke wasn't funny, and 'mum' just kept quiet.

Toboganing for all ages
Toboganing for all ages

Snow covered trees on the approach to Hasty Bank
Snow covered trees on the approach to Hasty Bank

Hardy rock climber on the Wain Stones
Hardy rock climber on the Wain Stones

The Wainstones in the ice & snow
The Wainstones in the ice & snow

We crossed the road and continued on the Cleveland Way up Hasty Bank and along the ridge to the Wain Stones where a few hardy, or is it foolhardy, souls were rock climbing!!!

The Wainstones in the ice & snow
The Wainstones in the ice & snow

Cold Moor Lane on the way back into Chop Gate
Cold Moor Lane on the way back into Chop Gate
After negotiating the icy slope descending from the Wain Stones we took the bridleway climbing diagonally up the side of Cold Moor the the ridge. We had been walking in mist for about half an hour but as we continued along Cold Moor we dropped out of the mist quite suddenly - within a few strides - and could see a horseshoe of white mist clinging to the ridge around the head of Bilsdale with blue sky and bands of darker cloud above. As we returned to Chop Gate down Cold Moor Lane the light was fading - it was about 3.30pm. The route was just over 15km and had taken us about 5 hours including two stops for refreshments. A good day to be out but very tiring in the icy conditions.