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The mist swirling around the rocky sides of Horness Griff
The mist swirling around the rocky sides of Horness Griff

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Route No. 166 - Wednesday 1 February 2006
Hole of Horcum: Pigtrough,
Hawdale & Honess Griffs- 10km
North York Moors . . .

Maps: OS Explorer OL27 North York Moors Eastern area at 1:25000
Route Map on 'Landranger' base from OS Open Space service

Walking down into the Hole of Horcum from the hairpin bend on the Whitby road
Walking into the Hole of Horcum from the hairpin bend on the Whitby road

We followed the path beside the main Whitby road round to the hairpin bend at map ref. SE 849940 and took the path down through the frosty heather into the Hole of Horcum. We could only see about 70m and I soon pulled my hat down over my ears as the frost started to nip them.

Thick white mist everywhere this morning and after a slow frustrating drive I met a friend of mine at the Hole of Horcum car park (map ref. SE 852936) just before 10am. We didn't really have a plan for today but we decided to have a rather silly "Boys Own Adventure" day and explore some narrow rocky valleys off Dundale Griff that are now available to walk under the new "right to roam".

Ruined farm house at Low Horcum
Ruined farm house at Low Horcum

The start of our walk up the bed of Dundale Griff
The start of our walk up the bed of Dundale Griff

We walked upstream to map ref. SE 836918 where Pigtrough Griff joins Dundale Griff. From here we followed Pigtrough Griff upstream. The sides of the valley became steeper and there were several small rocky waterfalls (with no water in today) that we had to scramble up. It's a fascinating place with the dead trees left where they fell and the accumulated debris washed down when the stream is in spate. It's all eerily quiet and completely isolated from the open moor above.

We continued through the Hole of Horcum past the ruined farm house at Low Horcum and made our way to the bottom of Dundale Griff at map ref. SE 838917. Here we left the path and dropped down into the bed of the watercourse. These streams are normally dry and only flow when there is rain on the moor, but they rise very quickly so these steep rocky little valleys are no place to be if there is any rain forecast.

Pigtrough Griff coming into Dundale Griff from our right
Pigtrough Griff coming into Dundale Griff from our right

Fallen trees in Pigtrough Griff
Fallen trees in Pigtrough Griff
The rocky valley of Pigtrough Griff quickly became deeper
The rocky valley of Pigtrough Griff quickly became deeper

Almost at the top of Pigtrough Griff
Almost at the top of Pigtrough Griff

From here we intended to follow the little valley, Hawdale Griff, down to our right for about 1km. There was some water flowing in this valley and the rocks had a treacherous coating of algae. The waterfalls were higher and it quickly became apparent that walking in the stream bed was well beyond the capabilities of two over-sixties so we made our way to a point where the valley side was climbable and scrambled up to a little path running along the edge of the valley just below the level of the moor. We followed this path to the confluence of the streams at map ref. SE 836925.

After a quite tiring scramble we emerged from Pigtrough Griff on to the open moor beside a square iron age settlement protected by a ditch and mound, and a few hundred metres further on we came to a bridleway on a stoney track across the moor at map ref. SE 829922. We walked along the track for about 1.5km to Seavy Pond at map ref. SE 833934.

Moorland grasses topped with frost
Moorland grasses topped with frost

The beginning of Hawdale Griff
The beginning of Hawdale Griff

Frost on the heather by the tack back to the Whitby road
Frost on the heather by the tack back to the Whitby road

The path back to the Hole of Horcum car park
The path back to the Hole of Horcum car park

After a short break we set off upstream again, this time following Horness Griff. After about 350m we came to a rocky waterfall over 4m high and we climbed up the valley side to a narrow path running along the left-hand side of the valley near the top of the slope. There were numerous low branches to negotiate but we slowly made our way along the valley for about 1.3km until we rejoined the bridleway at map ref. SE 836937. Here we turned on to the track and followed it back to the hairpin bend on the Whitby road and retraced our steps back to the Hole of Horcum car park. The mist was as thick as ever as I changed my boots for some comfortable shoes ready to drive home. It had been an interesting day, a bit different from our usual walks and much more strenuous. The whole route had been 10km and had taken us about 4 hours to walk and scramble including our breaks.

The steep rocky sides of Horness Griff
The steep rocky sides of Horness Griff