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Looking back to Hawnby Hill and Easterside Hill
Looking back to Hawnby Hill and Easterside Hill

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Route No 153 - Tuesday 24 August 2005
Moor Gate, Hawnby Moor, Harker Gates,
Hawnby - 11km.
North York Moors

Maps: OS Explorer OL26 North York Moors Western area at 1:25000
Route Map on 'Landranger' base from OS Open Space service

Track heading northwards from Moor Gate towards the Bilsdale Tv transmitter
Track heading northwards from Moor Gate towards the Bilsdale TV transmitter

It was a fine bright day and this morning my neighbour, Jim, and I drove to Moor Gate (map ref. SE 540917) about 2km north of Hawnby where on 20 June this year there was a devastating flash flood. At about 10 o'clock we set off along the track northwards towards the Bilsdale TV transmitter. The ling heather was in full bloom giving the whole landscape a rich purple sheen. After about 2km we reached map ref. SE 541937 where there is a path off to the left. We walked down the moor toward the corner of some woodland with a row of sunken grouse butts to our right. The path is not well defined and crosses some quite boggy areas. About half way down the side of the wood we turned left into the wood on a public footpath at map ref. SE 530936. There are many large wood ant nests and the floor of the woodland is full of ants so we found a broken stone wall to sit on for a break away from the attentions of the ants.

Wood ant hill
Wood ant hill
Wood ants about 10mm long
Wood ants about 10mm long

We followed the path through the woods to the road at map ref. SE 529928. Here we turned left to walk allong the road for about 200m to a path off to the right. There was a large notice informing us that the path was closed because of the flood damage. We decided to follow the path down to the river Rye at map ref. SE 529921 to see the damage for ourselves. The effect of the floods was unbelievable! The river normally flows between 100 to 300mm deep over a stoney bed. In the flood the level must have risen about 3m because the flood water had deposited sand banks on top of the banks of the stream at that level.

Flood debris on the river bank
Flood debris on the river bank

Steel footbridge deck buried in the stream bed
Steel footbridge deck buried in the stream bed

The heavy steel footbridge and its stone abutments had gone completely and there was debris from the bridge was visible about 50m downstream of its original site. There were whole trees strewn along the banks of the stream indicating the power of the flood. We managed to cross the stream on the large stones that were all that remained of the old ford that crossed the stream a few metres upstream of the footbridge site.

Sand banks deposited about 3m above the normal water level
Sand banks deposited about 3m above the normal water level
Flood debris on the river bank
Flood debris on the river bank

We followed the path across the field and up the hillside to the stile at map ref. SE 524921. Over the stile we followed the track almost to Harker Gates. We turned off the track on a path to our left at map ref. SE 526914. We followed the path down the hillside to the ford and footbridge at map ref. SE 530907. The footbridge was intact and there did not seem to bee much sign of the flood at all.

View from the track near Harker Gates
View from the track near Harker Gates

Over the footbridge we turned right through a gate and the scene changed. The next footbridge about 30m ahead had gone completely and there was tree debris strewn along the banks. We could not understand how the first footbridge had survived - maybe it had been repaired?

Flood debris by the River Rye
Flood debris by the River Rye

About a hundred mtres further on the stream joined the river Rye. The debris here was just the same as our first crossing of the Rye about 1.3km upstream. The flood water had deposited whole trees about 4m above the normal water level.

Flood debris brought down a small tributary
Flood debris brought down a small tributary
Stone bridge abutment dumped in the river Rye
Stone bridge abutment dumped in the river Rye

We followed the path north for about 150m along the bank of the river to the site of a substantial steel and stone footbridge. The bridge had gone. The stone abutment was on its side about 15m downstream of its original site, Again we managed to cross the river on the stoney bed and followed the path up the hillside to the edge of the wood at map ref. SE 533910.

Site of a substantial stone and steel footbridge over the River Rye
Site of a substantial stone and steel footbridge over the River Rye (stone abutment on the right)

Here we turned right to follow the path to the road on the edge of Hawnby at map ref. SE 540897. We walked into the village and stopped at the Hawnby Hotel for a coffee. From the pub we crossed the road to follow the path up Hawnby Hill to the summit at map ref. SE 540907 at 294m. We continued along the ridge and descended to Moor gate and back to our car. The whole route had been about 11km and had taken us 4 hours to walk including our stops.

View from the summit of Hawnby Hill
View from the summit of Hawnby Hill