Looking down Thorodale to Hawnby Hill and Easterside Hill
Looking down Thorodale to Hawnby Hill and Easterside Hill

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Route No. 297 - Sunday 14 June 2009
Hawnby Church, Thorodale,
Hambleton Drove Road circuit - 14.5km
North York Moors. . .

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

Map: Ordnance Survey Explorer OL26 North York Moors Western area at 1:25000


The village church at Hawnby
The village church at Hawnby

We started walking at about 10.30 am along the road towards the northern bit of Hawnby village. Hawnby consists of two clusters of houses around two 'T'-junctions.

Today was a hot sunny June day. My wife and I drove to the church at Hawnby, map ref. SE 537896, about 500m west of Hawnby village.

Coome Hill seen from a farm track on the edge of Hawnby
Coome Hill from a farm track on the edge of Hawnby

Leaving Hawnby along a farm track
Leaving Hawnby along a farm track

The church is about 500m west forming a triangle with the two bits of the village. We walked along the road for 300m to map ref. SE540897, where we came to a track on the left.

The northern bit of the village is about 400m north of the smaller southern bit. The pub is in the northern bit and the post office cum cafe is in the southern bit.

A group of noisy guinea fowl
A group of noisy guinea fowl

Sheep resting in the shade of a large sycamore tree
Sheep resting in the shade of a large sycamore tree

Entering the woodland above the River Rye
Entering the woodland above the River Rye

We followed the path through the woodland for about 300m to map ref. SE533910 where another path entered the wood through a gate.

This track took us across the fields for just over a kilometer to some woodland at map ref. SE534907.

Woodland above the River Rye
Woodland above the River Rye

Path through the woodland above the River Rye
Path through the woodland above the River Rye

Footbridge over the River Rye
Footbridge over the River Rye

But today we were basking in the summer sunshine. I love these summer days with the dappled sunlight playing on the woodland floor. From the wooden footbridge over the River Rye we continued along the west bank of the river through a pedestrian gate that led us out of the wood to the confluence with the River Rye, of the beck from Thorodale.

Here we turned left to continue through the wood down a steep bank to the River Rye. We followed the riverside path over a substantial wooden bridge across the river. This was one of many new bridges needed after a devastating flood of Sunday 19 June 2005 when more than 70mm of rain fell on the River Rye catchment in less than 3 hours. Two solid stone road bridges and many wooden footbridges were washed away and a great wave of debris, rocks gravel and trees, swept down the valley.

River Rye flowing gently through the woods
River Rye flowing gently through the woods
The dead trees are debris from the flood

Looking back across the River Rye to Hawnby Hill
Looking back across the River Rye to Hawnby Hill

Here we turned left to walk along the access road to Mount Pleasant Farm. About 10 years ago (maybe longer - the time just flies by) there was a great fire which completely destroyed all the farm buildings that were on the right of the path. Through the farm yard we turned left to follow an access road for about 200m to map ref. SE524909. Here we turned off the access road to go through the gate and follow a path along the edge of the field by a hedge.

The path led us by the beck from Thorodale across a field to a gate on to a track. At the track we turned right to cross the stream and follow the track uphill through a conifer plantation for about 300m to a gate into a field at map ref. SE529910. Through the gate there was a very nice view of Hawnby Hill across the valley to our right. At the edge of the field we came to a stile onto a farm access road.

Arden Hall below us in the woods
Arden Hall below us in the woods

Track across an open grassy area leading up Thorodale
Track across an open grassy area leading up Thorodale

Track through the woods climbing up Thorodale
Track through the woods climbing up Thorodale

After about 2km we came to a gate out of the wood to the open moor at map ref. SE502915. It was a long hot climb up through the woods and just through the gate to the moor we stopped to sit in the shade of an ash tree for our lunch.

We continued across the fields for about 500m to the edge of the woodland at map ref. SE519908. Here we joined a track first across an open grassy area and then up through the woods.

At last the gate from the woods to the moor at the head of Thorodale
At last the gate from the woods to the moor at the head of Thorodale

Lunch stop in the shade of an ash tree
Lunch stop in the shade of an ash tree

They didn't seem to have a proper map, just the newspaper cutting mounted in a plastic map case. It was quite comfortable sitting in the shade of the ash tree with our backs against the trunk, but we had to move on.

It was very pleasant with a view to our right up to the head of Thorodale. After a few minutes another couple passed us. They were walking a route from a local newspaper.

Looking up to the head of Thorodale
Looking up to the head of Thorodale

Track climbing to the moor top above Thorodale
Track climbing to the moor top above Thorodale

We crossed the ends of a couple of its little side valleys, and after about 1.5km across the moor we came to the Hambleton Drove Road at map ref. SE490922.

We turned right to follow a wide grassy path climbing up to the moor top. Near the top the path turned through a hairpin bend and skirted round the head of Thorodale.

Bumble bee feeding on wild thyme flowers
Male red tailed bumble bee feeding on wild thyme flowers - the female has no yellow band

Moorland path around the head of Thorodale
Moorland path around the head of Thorodale
A painted lady butterfly
A painted lady butterfly - migrants from Europe, very common this year
Small Copper butterfly - dozens of them on the track around the head of thorodale
Small Copper butterfly - dozens on the track around the head of Thorodale
The Hambleton Drove Road - the Cleveland Way goes along it
The Hambleton Drove Road - the Cleveland Way goes along it

Bumble bee feeding on a daisy
Male red tailed bumble bee feeding on a daisy - the female has no yellow band

After about 700m on the drove road we came to a gate on the right at map ref. SE489914, where a narrow dead end road (open to cars etc) comes up from Kepwick.

At the drove road we turned left to walk along the drove road with a magnificent view across the Vale of Mowbray to the Yorkshire Dales. There was a really clear view of the mouth of Wensleydale and Pen Hill beyond.

The lane from Kepwick meets the Hambleton Drove Road
The lane from Kepwick meets the Hambleton Drove Road

Track down to Arden Hall from the Drove Road
Track down to Arden Hall from the Drove Road

After about 3km descending from the moor we reached the entrance to Arden Hall at map ref. SE519904.

Opposite the gate we turned left to follow a track along the southern edge of Thorodale.

Track down to Arden Hall from the Drove Road
Track down to Arden Hall from the Drove Road

Water Aven by the road side
Water Aven by the road side

From the bridge we continued along the road back to the start of our walk. The whole route had been 14.5km and had taken us five hours to walk including our stops.

Here we joined the road which we followed around the northern side of Coome Hill to Church Bridge over the river Rye. This is one of the stone road bridges that was destroyed by the flood and had now been rebuilt.

The road from Arden Hall to Church Bridge
The road from Arden Hall to Church Bridge

An artist at work on Church Bridge over the River Rye
An artist at work on Church Bridge over the River Rye

Instead my wife was already thinking about the jobs to do when we got back and we had to stop at a garden centre to get a watering can rose so put some fertilizer on the lawn.

We consumed two and a half litres of water between the two of us on this scorching summer's day. We did not stop for a coffee and toasted tea cake on the way home.

The rebuilt Church Bridge over the River rye
The rebuilt Church Bridge over the River Rye

Looking across Dale Town to Hawnby Hill and Easterside Hill on our way home
Looking across Dale Town to Hawnby Hill and Easterside Hill on our way home

Background Notes:
This walk is a circular route of 9 miles, 14.5km, starting by the River Rye next to Hawnby church which dates from the late 1100's. Just over 6 years ago there was a serious flash flood here when a month's normal rainfall fell in only three hours. The powerful flood that tore down the valley washed away three stone road bridges and some footbridges, flattened the headstones in the churchyard and damaged riverside properties in Hawnby and downstream as far as Helmsley. It took a couple of years before the road bridges were fully repaired. The church, All Saints, has a stained glass window memorial to the dead of WW1, and more unusually, it has a poets corner with a collection of poetry books plus pens & paper for visitors to write their own verses and leave them in the folder provided labelled "Fresh Poems". From the church our route follows the road to the edge of the higher part of Hawnby called "Up-town Hawnby", the other part of the village being "Down-town Hawnby" by the road bridge over the River Rye. This split village came about as a result of the "The Hawnby Deamers". These were two local men who took a nap whilst working on the moor and had similar dreams that God was calling them to change their lives. They walked with a friend all the way to Newcastle to hear John Wesley preach and were converted to Methodism. This caused a scandal back in Hawnby and they and their families were evicted from their homes. They were able to resettle by the River Rye and the split in the village was made. Later in 1757, John Wesley came to visit this new Methodist community which had grown to around 50 people. Now-a-days this old rift has healed and the churches do work together here and celebrate an annual 'Hawnby Dreamers Day' From the edge of Hawnby our route follows a path across the fields to the woodland in the valley of Wheat Beck which was affected by the same flash flood as the River Rye. We cross the beck and climb up to Mount Pleasant farm. Along the way there is a lovely view across the valley to Hawnby Hill with its rocky ridge. From Mount Pleasant farm the walk passes above Arden Hall. The hall is on the site of an earlier nunnery and it was the family seat of the Tankard family until the end of the 1800's. We continue along a path through woodland climbing up Thorodale to emerge from the woodland into the head of Thorodale which I always feel is a rather atmospheric place with its steep sides enclosing a narrow valley with several branches off it. We climb up out of Thorodale and cross the head of a couple of the side valleys off Thorodale to join the Hambleton Drove Road by the ruins of Limekiln House. This was an old Drovers' Inn but there are only the grassed over foundations left now. It's strage to think that this empty track over the moors was once such a busy thoroughfare with thousands of cattle & sheep and even flocks of geese being driven from as far afield as Scotland to the markets of towns and cities further south. It is such an ancient route with archeological evidence that it was in use as long ago as the stone age. Looking west from the drove road there is an open view across the Vale of Mowbray all the way to the hills of the Yorkshire Dales. We soon leave the drove road to walk along a track following Thorodale back down to the entrance to Arden Hall, across the rebuilt stone road bridge over the river Rye and back to the church at the end of our walk.

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