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Looking over Littlebeck from the village hall car park
Looking over Littlebeck from the road at the village hall car park

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Route No 186 - Wednesday 19 July 2006
Littlebeck, The Hermitage, Maybeck, Falling Foss circuit - 7km
North York Moors

(Waymarked route with a white arrow on a red background)
Map: OS Explorer OL27 North York Moors Eastern area at 1:25000
Route Map on 'Landranger' base from OS Open Space service


The forecasters had billed today as the hottest day on record so we decided to go for a well shaded woodland walk with a nice stream - Littlebeck to Maybeck seemed just right.

3-wheel sports car on the hill into Littlebeck
3-wheel sports car on the hill into Littlebeck.
Is it an old Morgan?

Path from Littlebeck towards The Hermitage
Path from Littlebeck towards The Hermitage

We set off early, before 8.30am, and got to the car park at the village hall in Littlebeck (map ref.NZ 880050) at about 9.30 It's about 3km SE of Sleights and about 10km south of Whitby.

We set off down the hill from the village hall for about 200m to a sharp steep bend where we took the foopath off to the left signposted as part of the Coast to Coast route. At once we were out of the heat of the sun and into dappled shade and cool air under the trees - It was very pleasant indeed.

The path just above the little beck with a jumble of fallen trees
The path just above the Little Beck with a jumble of fallen trees - an all too rare natural deciduous woodland (well sensitively managed anyway)

Slender trees reaching up the valley side to the light

After about 500m we came to a cave hollowed out of the shale. The path climbed up over the little knoll above the cave and after another 500m and a short climb we reached The Hermitage.

Path through the leafy shade above Little Beck
Path through the leafy shade above Little Beck

The Hermitage is a cave carved out of solid rock with the initials GC and the date 1790 over the doorway. I don't think anyone lived there. I think it's just a folly - somewhere cool and sheltered to sit on a walk through the woods.

Left: Slender trees reaching up the valley side to the light

The Hermitage - a cave carved out of the solid rock
The Hermitage - a cave carved out of the solid rock

After the Hermitage the path forks and we followed the waymarked route to the right down the valley side to the beck which we crossed on a wooden footbridge. There was another footbridge ahead over Parsley Beck coming in from the right but we walked along the right hand bank of May Beck. (Little Beck starts at the confluence of Parsley & May Becks).

Lovely shady path through the woods heading for Falling Foss
Lovely shady path through the woods heading for Falling Foss

After about 400m we come to a stoney track which crossed May Beck about 150m above Falling Foss waterfall. There was a pretty pool here and a shady bank to sit on so we had a break for a drink and to listen to the beck trickling along its way. After our break we walked back up the track to rejoin the waymarked route off to the left of the track.

May Beck about 150m above Falling Foss
May Beck about 150m above Falling Foss

Path towards May Beck from Falling Foss
Path towards May Beck from Falling Foss

We continued along the path for another 1km to the Falling Foss car park where a council worker dressed in the full safety gear of boots, overalls, helmet, goggles and gloves was strimming the grass verges in the full midday sun in the open car park on the hottest day on record.

It was just over 1km to the May Beck car park. We continued on the waymarked trail to cross the beck and follow the path back down the opposite bank. We found anothe shady spot on the bank of the beck for another break.

Fallen beech tree on the way back to the Hermitage
Fallen beech tree on the way back to the Hermitage

Path back to Littlebeck from the Hermitage
Path back to Littlebeck from the Hermitage

The whole route had been about 7km and had taken us almost 3hours including our two breaks for a long cold drink. We drove back into Sleights and had a coffee and a bacon roll in the little cafe opposite the car park.

From Falling Foss the path led us up the hillside back to the Hermitage and from there we retraced our footsteps back to the road at Littlebeck village and then up the hill to the village hall car park.

Grass hopper on a fence post next to our car
Grass hopper on a fence post next to our car