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Looking north along the Hambleton Drove Road (Cleveland way)
Looking North along the Hambleton Drove Road (Cleveland Way)

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Route No. 175 - Thursday 20 April 2006
Silton Woods, Oak Dale, Hambleton Drove Road, Kepwick circuit - 15.7km
Cleveland Hills, 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 though Silton Woods
Track though Silton Woods

About 400m from the car park there is a well walked broad path off the track to the left heading straight up the hillside (this path is not shown on my map), We turned on to this path and climbed straight up to the top of the ridge at map ref. SE 460946. It was a pleasant spring day but quite hazy in the distance. The normal view across the the Yorkshire Dales was obscured by a thick bank of cloud lying on the ground over to the west.

This morning my neighbour, Jim, and I drove to the Forestry Commission car park in Silton Woods at map ref. SE 467937, a few kilometers off the A19 north of Thirsk. It's not far from home and we began walking at about 9.30am. We took the forest track that crosses the stream next to the car park and then follows the stream roughly northwards.

Path up the hillside in Silton Woods
Path up the hillside in Silton Woods

Looking west into the haze from the ridge at the top of Silton Woods
Looking west into the haze from the ridge at the top of Silton Woods

The path through the woods above Thimbleby heading for Oak Dale
The path through the woods above Thimbleby heading for Oak Dale

We were at a junction of five tracks (not all shown on the map!). We continued straight on along a track that headed steeply down hill for about 150m to meet a public footpath running round the contour of the hill. At the footpath we turned right to follow the path northwards for about 1.5km to Oak Dale. There are two reservoirs in Oak Dale and the path drops down a steep bank into the dale between the two reservoirs at map ref. SE 468963. The Cleveland Way passes down this dale and when we reached it we turned right to floow the Cleveland Way up the valley, passing the Upper Oakdale reservoir on our right. It's quite a steep climb out of Oak Dale to the car park at map ref. SE 479959.

Looking towards Osmotherly from the path above Oak Dale
Looking towards Osmotherly from the path above Oak Dale

Upper Oak Dale reservoir
Upper Oak Dale reservoir

Upper Oak Dale reservoir
Upper Oak Dale reservoir
Upper Oak Dale reservoir
Upper Oak Dale reservoir

Just before we reached the road we sat on a large rock to look at the view and have a drink and a sandwich. It was very pleasant sitting in the quiet gazing into the distance and we had quite a long break there! From the car park we continued on the Cleveland Way, climbing up the side of Black Hambleton and continuing round the edge of the escarpment for about 3km to map ref. SE 489914, where a narrow lane climbs up from Kepwick. This part of the Cleveland Way is known as the Hambleton Drove Road and is the old route taken by cattle drovers taking animals south to feed the towns people. There are the remains, just heaps of stones and bumps in the ground, of an old drovers inn, called Limekiln House, beside the track.

Cleveland Way climbing up the side of Black Hambleton
Cleveland Way climbing up the side of Black Hambleton

Cleveland Way climbing up the side of Black Hambleton
Cleveland Way climbing up the side of Black Hambleton
A millipede making its way over a rock
A millipede making its way over a rock
Hazy view from the Cleveland way
Hazy view from the Cleveland way looking south west from Black Hambleton

We sat on the bank at the start of the lane for another break and to look at the view before we turned right to walk down the tarmac lane for about 2km to Kepwick. At the road junction in Kepwick, map ref. SE 470909, we turned right and walked along the road for about another kilometer to map ref. SE 465919. Here we turned right off the road to follow a path across the fields.

The lane from the drove road down to Kepwick
The lane from the drove road down to Kepwick

Timber stack on the lane to Kepwick

Above: Timber stack on the lane to Kepwick
Right: Entrance to Kepwick Hall

Entrance to Kepwick Hall

Kepwick village
Kepwick village

Some of them were so young that they were still left culed up in the long grass whilst the mother was away grazing. The cows were not happy about our presence.

There were some cattle in the field and it soon became clear that there was a large herd of cows spread over several interconnected fields and each cow had a very young calf.

Cow and calf keeping an eye on us
Cow and calf keeping an eye on us

Cow and calf keeping an eye on us
Cow and calf keeping an eye on us

Fortunately there was a small pedestrian gate a few metres along the fence which we moved to fairly quickly and things calmed down again. However up ahead we still had two more fields to cross with many more wary mothers and calves.

They adopted that warning stance with their heads held up high and ears pricked. As we reached the far side of the first field a cow with its calf was approaching the gate from the other side. It decided that we could be dangerous and made a threat charge towards us.

Cow and calf keeping an eye on us
Cow with calves keeping an eye on us

Spring lambs resting
Spring lambs resting
With so many calves lying in the grass it was impossible to tell if we were walking between a calf and its mother and we were certainly getting a lot of attention. We climbed the fence into the next field and crossed that to reach a lane at map ref. SE 465925, about 150m from the path we should have been on. It had been the most worrying time I have had with cattle, much more dangerous than the frisky beef stores that we often encounter. We walked along the lane to rejoin the path and continue across the fields (sheep and arrable this time) to the road at map ref. SE 465933. At the road we turned right and walked back to the car park where we had started. The whole route had been just under 16km and had taken us five and a half hours to walk including our two long stops and our encounter with the maternal cows.