Approaching the ruins of John Bond's Sheep House by May Beck
Approaching the ruins of John Bond's Sheep House by Blea Hill Beck

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Route No. 294 - Wednesday 27 May 2009
Whinstone Ridge, May Beck,
Falling Foss circuit - 13km
North York Moors. . .

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

Map: Ordnance Survey Explorer OL27 North York Moors Eastern area at 1:25000


The trench left by the excavation of the Whinstone ridge for roadstone, near the A169 Pickering to Whitby road
The trench left by the excavation of the Whinstone ridge for roadstone, near the A169 Pickering to Whitby road

The parking area is next to the Whinstone Ridge. This is a line of volcanic rock no more than 30m wide that runs for about 5km across the moor. Or at least it used to be, but the rock has been excavated for road stone many years ago leaving a trench, now reclaimed by the moorland vegitation.

The weather forcast for today was for rain, but better in the east of the country. We decided on a forest walk with lots of shelter, and drove out to a parking area off the A169, Pickering to Whitby road near Goathland at map ref.NZ852028. There was thick low grey cloud looking quite threatening but no rain so far.

track by the A169 by the Whinstone Ridge
Track by the A169 by the Whinstone Ridge

Boundary stones by the Whinstone Ridge
Boundary stones by the Whinstone Ridge

We came to a pair of boundary stones on a tumulus by the track. The taller of the two bore the inscription "Sneaton, Liberty, Assizes, 1784. I think this was the start of legal moves to establish the Goathland Parish Boundary, but I don't know why the boundary should have been in any doubt.

From the car park we set off heading south east on a track following the Whinstone Ridge across the A169 and going out towards Lilla Howe.

"Sneaton Liberty Assizes 1784"
"Sneaton Liberty Assizes 1784"

Birdsfoot trefoil by the path
Birdsfoot trefoil by the path

Heading for the fire break route into the forest
Heading for the fire break route into the forest

It joins a stone forest access road about 150m into the plantation. It's probably a few years since I was last here and the whole place has changed completely.

After about 1.5km we were alongside a large forest plantation with a wide firebreak at map ref. NZ869020. There is a well walked path through the fire break.

Track along the Whinstone Ridge with the forest on our left
Track along the Whinstone Ridge with the forest on our left

Our track through the forest - this was all mature trees last time I was here
Our track through the forest - this was all mature trees last time I was here
This whole vat area to the distant trees was was mature forest last time I was here
This whole vast area to the distant trees was was mature forest last time I was here

Cotton grass on a boggy patch
Cotton grass on a boggy patch

One of a group of four Swaledale tupps grazing in the forest
One of a group of four Swaledale tupps grazing in the forest

Here we turned right and continued along the forest road for another few hundred metres to a fork in the road at map ref. NZ884010. This time we took the left fork. Again we continued along the forest road for about 400m to map ref. NZ891009, where we turned left off the road on to a footpath.

A vast area of the forest has been felled and much of it replanted with some areas starting to regrow so it must be seven or eight years since I was here. We followed the forest road for about 1.5km to a 't'-junction at map ref. NZ884015.

Wild strawberries by the path
Wild strawberries by the path

Fire fighting pond by the forest track
Fire fighting pond by the forest track

Another area of forest that had been felled
Another area of forest that had been felled

The start of the path to John Bond's Sheep House
The start of the path to John Bond's Sheep House

Path crossing a forest road
Path crossing a forest road

The path crossed the road at an oblique angle and it took us a moment to spot the continuation of the path on the other side of the road. We followed the path to John Bond's Sheep House, a ruined shepherd's cottage beside Blea Hill Beck

Here for the first time we were amongst the trees. Up to this point the whole area had been felled. Still no rain despite the threatening sky.We followed the path across another stone forest road (not marked on our map)

Path to John Bond's Sheep House
Path to John Bond's Sheep House

John Bond's Sheep House
John Bonds Sheep House

Just to confirm we were at the right place
Just to confirm we were at the right place
Blea Hill Beck near John Bond's Sheep House
Blea Hill Beck near John Bonds Sheep House

Following Blea Hill Beck downstream
Following Blea Hill Beck downstream

We could now see a fine drizzle blowing across the trees but little of it seemed to reach us on our seat beneath the branches.

We followed a path by the beck donstream towards the May Beck car park. Afterabout 400m we came to a seat by the beck in a very pleasant clearing where we stopped for our lunch break.

Our lunch stop by Blea Hill Beck
Our lunch stop by Blea Hill Beck

Wood Sorrel by the beck
Wood Sorrel by the beck

Waterfall on Blea Hill Beck
Waterfall on Blea Hill Beck

We followed the path along the eastern bank of the beck to the bridge over the beck at Falling Foss.

After our break we continued to the May Beck car park where we took the path along the east bank of the beck.

Lunch by the beck
Lunch by the beck

The path from May Beck car park
The path from May Beck car park

Pond in the woods by May Beck
Pond in the woods by May Beck
Stitchwort by the path
Stitchwort by the path
Tadpoles in a puddle next to a pond
Tadpoles in a puddle next to a pond
May Beck upstream of Falling Foss
May Beck upstream of Falling Foss
Crossing the fields beyond Foss Farm
Crossing the fields beyond Foss Farm

Path through Foss Plantation
Path through Foss Plantation

We continued across the fields to the corner of the pond at map ref. NZ879031.

We crossed the bridge and walked up the hill along the track past Foss Farm.

Path through Foss Plantation
Path through Foss Plantation

A common lizard by the Path through Foss Plantation
A common lizard by the path through Foss Plantation
A common lizard by the Path through Foss Plantation
A common lizard by the path through Foss Plantation
Path through Foss Plantation
Path through Foss Plantation
Chickweed Wintergreen - a much prettier flower than the name suggests
Chickweed Wintergreen - a much prettier flower than the name suggests
We followed the public footpath up through Foss Plantation where we stopped to sit on a convenient tree stump for a coffee break. There was an unusual but very pretty flower next to the tree stump with small white seven pointed star flowers on a twiggy stem with small leaves shaped like those on an olive tree. I looked it up when we got home and found it was a Chickweed Wintergreen which apparently is common in Scotland, rare in Northern England and absent from the South of England. After our break and botanical discovery we continued along the path to join a forest road going westwards through the same huge area of felled forest that we encountered at the start of our walk.. We continued on the forest road about 1.3km to the firebreak we had used this morning at map NZ870021. Here we turned right off the forest road to retrace our steps along the Whinstone Ridge back to the car park. The whole route had been 13 km and had taken us four and a half hours including our stops. As usual we stopped in Helmsley for a coffee and toasted teacake dripping with butter at our favourite cafe to round off a good day inspite of the awful weather forecast.
Could this bus (circa 1960) be appearing in an episode of "Heartbeat"?
Could this bus (circa 1960), in the car park at the end of our walk, be appearing in an episode of "Heartbeat"?