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Huge clear felled area
Huge clear felled area - unrecognisable, all my landmarks have gone!

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Route No 240 - Wednesday 26 March 2008
Cropton Forest, Wardle Green, Simon Howe,
Wheeldale Beck, Roman Road - 10 km
North York Moors . . .

Ordnance Survey route map on the Landranger series map base
View the route in Google Earth

Map: OS Explorer OL27 North York Moors Eastern area


Wheeldale Beck at the start of our walk
Wheeldale Beck at the start of our walk

Here we turned left off the road through a pedestrian gate on to a forest track at map ref. SE800963. We followed this track down hill into a small valley where the track crossed between two small lakes.

This morning we drove to the ford across Wheeldale Beck at map ref. SE 802970. We started walking at about 10 am south along the road by one edge of Cropton Forest for about 700m.

Entering Cropton Forest from the road
Entering Cropton Forest from the road

Small lake in Cropton Forest
Small lake in Cropton Forest

A pond in the Cropton Forest
A pond in the Cropton Forest

Today however my friend Jim wanted to try a different route so we took the track to the south. After a few hundred metres it turned westwards through a huge area of clear felling which meant that I did not recognise any of this part of the forest.

We continued through the forest along the wide stony tracks for over a kilometre to a junction at map ref. SE 812961. Here we would normally have taken the track to the north east and followed it through various twists and turns to Wardle Green.

A glimps of the hills over the tree tops
A glimpse of the hills over the tree tops

A snowy corner in the shade of the trees
A snowy corner in the shade of the trees

There was a jumble of animal tracks which gradually separated out into a fox walking (not running) along the left of the path and a rabbit walking (not running) along the right of the path.

We continued along this track to the edge of the forest at map ref. SE 821959. Part of the track was in the shade of the trees and was still covered in snow from the heavy fall a few days ago.

A forest road quite muddy after the recent felling operation
A forest road quite muddy after the recent felling operation

From the way the tracks were overlaid in the jumbled part I think the fox came along some time later than the rabbit.

Fox tracks in the snow - all four feet placed in a single straight line
Fox tracks in the snow - all four feet placed in a single straight line

Rabbit tracks in the snow - 2 back feet with the front two walking ahead
Rabbit tracks in the snow - 2 back feet with the front 2 walking ahead

Squirrels' dining table
Squirrels' dining table

Ruined farm at Wardle Green
Ruined farm at Wardle Green

The path to Wardle Green
The path to Wardle Green

Finger post on the moor near Simon Howe
Finger post on the moor near Simon Howe

From the edge of the forest we made our way down the hill through the gaps in the trees to our usual track at map ref. SE 821962. We turned right onto the track and then left after about 250m to reach the ruined farm at Wardle Green. Here we sat on a ruined wall for an early lunch break.

Dry stone wall forming a shelter for sheep on the exposed moor
Dry stone wall forming a shelter for sheep on the exposed moor

Simon Howe looking west
Simon Howe looking west

Wheeldale Lodge, a former youth hostel
Wheeldale Lodge, a former youth hostel

We exchanged a few pleasantries and then set off down the slope to Wheeldale Beck near Wheeldale Lodge which used to be a youth hostel. How is it that the YHA couldn't run a successful hostel in a lovely location like this teeming with walkers all year round?

After our break we followed the path out across the moor in a generally northerly direction to the cairn at Simon Howe. When we got there a couple, who had passed us whilst we were having our lunch, were seated on the rocks having their lunch.

Stepping stones over Wheeldale Beck
Stepping stones over Wheeldale Beck

The climb up from Wheeldale Beck to the Roman Road
The climb up from Wheeldale Beck to the Roman Road

The information board where the Roman Road meets the modern road suggests that the road may not be Roman!

We crossed the stepping stones over Wheeldale Beck and climbed the path up the valley side to the Roman Road above.

The climb up from Wheeldale Beck to the Roman Road
The climb up from Wheeldale Beck to the Roman Road

The climb up from Wheeldale Beck to the Roman Road
The climb up from Wheeldale Beck to the Roman Road

Then we returned to the car a couple of hundred metres down the road at the ford across Wheeldale Beck.

We walked beside the Roman Road back to the modern road at map ref. SE 803972.

Wheeldale Road (Roman Road?) or Wade's Causeway
Wheeldale Road (Roman Road?) or Wade's Causeway

Wheeldale Road (Roman Road?) or Wade's Causeway
Wheeldale Road (Roman Road?) or Wade's Causeway

As we approached the town I got a call on my mobile asking me to pick up my grand daughter from the nursery as she was not very well. So we had to skip the cafe stop, but I think Jim enjoyed our emergency dash home (he was driving) and by the following morning my grand daughter was fine and full of beans as usual.

The whole route had been about 10 km and had taken us three and a half hours to walk including our lunch stop. On the way back we planned to stop in a cafe in Helmsley for our usual coffee.

Returning to the car at the ford across Wheeldale Beck
Returning to the car at the ford across Wheeldale Beck

Background Notes:
This walk is on the North York Moors, at Wheeldale where the road from Pickering through Stape crosses a ford over Wheeldale Beck. It's a circular walk of 10km, about 6 miles, and we start out back along the road across the ford heading towards Stape for about 600m before turning left off the road onto a forest access track through the northern fringe of the Cropton Forest. We soon cross the little valley of Keys Beck where there is a small dam next to the track forming a pretty pond in an open area of the forest. We continue through the forest for about 2km to a ruined farmhouse at Wardle Green on the edge of the open heather moor. From Wardle Green we cross Blawath Beck and follow a path climbing up the moor to pass a semicircular stone sheep fold. This structure is shaped to provide shelter for the sheep no matter which direction the wind blows. We continue climbing northwards along Simon Howe Rigg to Simon Howe. This is a Bronze Age site which originally had a large cairn surrounded by a stone kerb with a line of five 1m high standing stones linking it to a smaller kerbed cairn to the north. The cairns have long since gone but the 10m diameter ring of kerb stones remain at Simon Howe with four of the line of standing stones, 2 laid flat, leading to the site of the smaller cairn. Unfortunately this Bronze Age monument lies directly on the route of the Lyke Wake Walk and a stone cairn to guide walkers has been built within the ring of kerb stones and a walkers stone shelter has been erected. It looks as though some of the kerb stones have been pulled up and built into this shelter. At Simon Howe we turn left to follow the Lyke Wake Walk route down the hillside to Wheeldale Beck. The Lyke Wake Walk was started in 1955 by a local farmer called Bill Cowley who died in 1994. It's a 40 miles challenge walk across the northern part of the North York Moors from Osmotherley to Ravenscar. The challenge is to complete the walk in under 24 hours and over the years many thousands of people have done just that. As we approach Wheeldale Beck, over to the right is Wheeldale Lodge that used to be a Youth Hostel. We cross the beck on a series of stepping stones and on the other side we leave the Lyke Wake Walk to climb diagonally up the steep hillside to the remains of a Roman Road crossing the moor. It's known locally as Wade's Causeway. The character, Wade, was based on a larger than life Saxon cheiftain who has been absorbed into a local mythology, but I don't think he had anything to do with the building of this road. It's thought that it's a Roman road that came from the Roman fort at Malton via the Roman Camps at Cawthorne and through Stape and Wheeldale Moor and out to the coast possibly to Whitby. The surface stones have all gone having been used in buildings in nearby villages, but the shape of the road and the road side drainage ditches, all conforming to a Roman pattern of road building, are clearly visible over a length of about 1km. We follow the Roman road down to the ford over Wheeldale Beck and the end of our walk.

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