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Starting down Ingleby Incline
Starting down Ingleby Incline

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Route No. 195 - Wednesday 13 September 2006
Clay Bank, Botton Head, Ingleby Incline
Greenhow Plantation - circuit 12km
Cleveland Hills, North York Moors

Map: OS Explorer OL26 North York Moors Western area at 1:25000
Route Map on 'Landranger' base from OS Open Space service
Open this route in Google Earth


The Cleveland Way climbing up from Clay Bank
The Cleveland Way climbing up from Clay Bank

We started walking just after 10.00am and followed the Cleveland Way up the climb to the trig point above Botton Head at the highest place on the North York Moors at 454m.

This morning three of us met at the car park at the top of Clay Bank at the head of Bilsdale in the North York Moors, map ref. NZ 572036.

The Cleveland Way climbing up from Clay Bank
The Cleveland Way climbing up from Clay Bank

Looking down to Clay Bank from the Cleveland Way
Looking down to Clay Bank from the Cleveland Way
The Cleveland Way heading for the trig point at the top of the moor
The Cleveland Way heading for the trig point at the top of the moor

The four ladies from Devon who were walking the Coast to Coast route
The four ladies from Devon who were walking the Coast to Coast route

A grouse posing for the camera
A grouse posing for the camera

On the way up we caught up a group of four very pleasant ladies from Devon who were walking Wainwright's Coast to Coast route.

The "Face Stone" by the Cleveland Way at map ref. NZ 599015
The "Face Stone" by the Cleveland Way at map ref. NZ 599015

About 1km beyond the trig point at map ref. NZ 604015 we turned off the Cleveland Way on to a rough track across the moor to join the route of the old ironstone railway at map ref. NZ 608020. We followed the bed of the railway for a few hundred metres to the top of Ingleby Incline at map ref. NZ 609025. The incline was a death defying contraption. The railway track was laid down a very steep gradient about 1.5km long and drops about 300m.

Following the railway bed to the top of Ingleby Incline
Following the railway bed to the top of Ingleby Incline

There were two sets of wagons connected by a steel cable around a large pulley wheel at the top. One set of wagons was loaded with iron ore at the top and this set off down the slope hauling the empty set of wagons up from the bottom there was a passing place with two sets of rails in the middle of the slope. I don't know how the braking system worked but there were accidents on the incline at least one fatal - I must borrow my friend's book on the ironstone railway.

The bottom of Ingleby Incline meets the forest road
The bottom of Ingleby Incline meets the forest road where we turned left to follow the road

At the bottom of the incline we turned left to walk along the stone forest road along the edge of the woods. About 400m along the road we came to a very old oak tree at the side of the road. The Woodland Trust, the Ancient Tree Forum and the Tree Register have all joined forces to carry out a national survey of ancient trees to put together a reliable database.

Our ancient oak
Our ancient oak

Anyone interested can report an ancient tree to the survey via their web site so I had come armed with a clipboard, pen, tape measure and gps gadget to record all the details they want. The tree turned out to have a girth of over 10m and I got very excited and thought the tree could be over 1000 years old. Later on when I thought about it again I had got my mental arithmetic all wrong and the tree is probably over 800 years old, but that's still quite impressive.

Our ancient oak
Our ancient oak

The idea is that each year the tree puts on another growth ring. In the case of oak these average about 2mm wide which is an extra 4mm on the tree's diameter or about 12mm on the tree's girth. So a tree with a 10m girth is about 800 years old.

The path climbing up from the forest road
The path climbing up from the forest road

We continued along the forest road for another few hundred metres to map ref. NZ 601026 where we turned left off the road to climb a steep track up almost to the top of the wood at map ref. NZ 601022. Here the track turned right to follow the contour round the hill side near the top of the wood for about 500m to the shaley landslip area of Botton Head.

The path below Botton Head
The path below Botton Head
Path winding its way through the woodland
Path winding its way through the woodland
Path winding its way through the woodland
Path winding its way through the woodland
Path winding its way through the woodland
Path winding its way through the woodland

Autumn fungus by the path
Autumn fungus by the path

We continued along this track for over 1km to map ref. NZ 586027 where everything changed. Up to this point we had been walking along a pretty woodland track with misty views through the trees to the north.

At this point we met the disruption caused by the forestry operations (no-one working today). Our pleasant woodland track was turned into a deeply rutted quagmire with a debris of branches underfoot making for very difficult walking conditions. These conditions persisted for most of the way back to the road at Clay Bank. When we were almost back we met a man on a mountain bike who was checking out the route for a party of school children at the weekend.

The woodland path churned up by the forestry operations
The woodland path churned up by the forestry operations

The woodland path churned up by the forestry operations
The woodland path churned up by the forestry operations

I think he will be looking for an alternative! The whole route had been about 12km and had taken us four and a half hours to walk including our lunch stop at the top of Ingleby Incline and our tree recording exploits. There was a cafe caravan in the car park when we got back so we sat down for a tea and a bacon roll before driving home. The low cloud and mist had not lifted all day but it had been very mild.

Viewpoint on the woodland track at map ref. NZ 579034
Viewpoint on the woodland track at map ref. NZ 579034
Looking north from Clay Bank car park towards Roseberry Topping and Captain Cook's Monument hidden in the mist
Looking north from Clay Bank car park towards Roseberry Topping and Captain Cook's Monument hidden in the mist