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Great Arden Moor from our starting point at the picnic site
Great Arden Moor from our starting point at the picnic site

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Route 171 - Wednesday 22 March 2006
Ellers Wood, Cow Ridge, Head House
Arnsgill Ridge, Wheat Beck - 12km
Cleveland Hills, North York Moors . . .

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

An old lime kiln next to Blow Gill
An old lime kiln next to Blow Gill
For over a week the weather has been very sombre but this morning was a lovely bright clear crisp day, perfect for walking. My neighbour, Jim, and I drove to a little picnic site and car park at map ref. SE 529928 on the road between Hawnby and Osmotherley in the Cleveland Hills on the western edge of the North York Moors. There we met two other friends and together we set off walking at about 10.15am. We walked along the road for a few hundres metres and then followed a track through the woodland on the right hand side of the road to the ruins of and old chapel at map ref SE 529936. At the ruin we turned down the hill to cross the beck, called Blow Gill. This whole area down through Hawnby and Helmsley was affected by serious flash floods about a year ago and the course of the beck has been been scoured out on a scale that seems out of keeping with the normal flow of this little moorland stream.
Looking across to the start of Cow Ridge from the ruined chapel
Looking across to the start of Cow Ridge from the ruined chapel

From the beck we climbed up the hill to the road and turned right to walk along the road for about 350m to a farm track on a bend at map ref. SE 526939.

The scoured out course of Blow Gill after the flash flood
The scoured out course of Blow Gill after the flash flood

An arrangement of small standing stones at Lane House
An arrangement of small standing stones at Lane house
Could they be the remains of stack-yard staddle-stones
as described in Bill Cowley's book about Snilesworth (ISBN 0 9518529 1 4)
(or is it just the base of an old hen house?)

We turned right off the road to follow the track up across the moor along Cow Ridge for over 3km to Head House at map ref. SE 534971. As we were walking along Cow Ridge an executive jet flew over us travelling from west to east very low, no more than a few hundred feet, and then banked north to fly up Bilsdale. We were puzzled as to where it could be heading so low over the moors.

Ewes and lambs in the spring sunshine
Ewes and lambs in the spring sunshine
Head House - an old farmstead now a shooting hut
Head House - an old farmstead now a shooting hut
Black Hambleton seen from Cow Ridge
Black Hambleton seen from Cow Ridge

Head House is an old farm stead that is now used as a shooting hut. The whole track along Cow Ridge has been surfaced with a soft sandy material excavated from a large pit part way along the ridge. The material is soft, not gritty and when wet it just turns to soft mud, making walking messy and uncomfortable.

Heading for Rye Farm down Arnsgill Ridge
Heading for Rye Farm down Arnsgill Ridge

Farm equipment store
Farm equipment store

From Head House we continued along the track heading roughly south west on Arnsgill Ridge for about 3km to the road at Low Cote Farm, map ref. SE 512947. We walked along the road, down the hill to Wheat Beck at map ref. SE 511944. Here we took the farm track to Lower Locker Farm and continued below the farm round the valley side for about 1.5km to Cow Wath at map ref. SE 524930.

Flood debris still in evidence along the River Rye
Flood debris still in evidence along the River Rye

Here we turned down the hill to cross the River Rye on a new footbridgeat map ref. SE 525930. It is one of many that are being rebuilt after the flash floods. From the footbridge we climbed up the hill to the road at map ref. SE 528931 and returned along the road to the picnic site where we had started.

Hens enjoying the spring sunshine
Hens enjoying the spring sunshine

Swaledale ewe and lamb - they have suvived the recent severe frosts but we saw many dead ewes  on today's walk
Swaledale ewe and lamb - they have suvived the recent severe frosts
but we saw many dead ewes on today's walk

The whole route had been about 12km and had taken us about 4 hours including a very pleasant stop on the moor in the sunshine for our sandwiches. On the way back we stopped at the post office store in Hawnby for our traditional cup of tea and a toasted tea cake. It was very nice little tea shop which we had not visited before but are likely to use again.

Looking down Ryedale from Lower Locker farm
Looking down Ryedale from Lower Locker farm
Ruined farmstead above the river Rye
Ruined farmstead above the river Rye
Bracket fungus on a birch tree by the path
Bracket fungus on a birch tree by the path
Waterfall on Blow Gill scoured out by the floods
Waterfall on Blow Gill scoured out by the floods
Blow Gill scoured clear by the floods
Blow Gill scoured clear by the floods