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Raincliffe Woods between Scarborough and Forge Valley
Raincliffe Woods between Scarborough and Forge Valley

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Route No. 338 - Wednesday 5 May 2010
Forge Valley, R.Derwent, Wrench Green,
Hackness, Sea Cut, Raincliffe Woods circuit - 11km
North York Moors . . .

Route map from Ordnance Survey Open Space service.

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


Entrance to The Old Man's Mouth car park
Entrance to The Old Man's Mouth car park


Kingcups on the riverside
Kingcups on the riverside

Wild garlic in the woods
Wild garlic in the woods

From the car park we crossed the footbridge over the river to the boardwalk on the far bank. At the boardwalk we turned right to walk along the boardwalk for about 300m to the edge of the wood.

This morning my friend, Jim, and I drove to Forge Valley and parked at a little car park by the River Derwent called "Old Man's Mouth" at map ref. SE983873 off the East Ayton to Hackness road up the valley.

Leaving the car park for the footbridge
Leaving the car park for the footbridge


The boardwalk beside the River Derwent
The boardwalk beside the River Derwent

Wood anemonies by the path
Wood anemones by the path

Large untidy nests of a small heronry
Large untidy nests of a small heronry

These are a heronry and to confirm it a heron flew off as we approached. We followed the path across the fields to the sluices at the start of the Sea Cut. This is a man made watercourse used as an overflow to the River Derwent, taking high flows from the river directly to the sea at Scalby on the Northern edge of Scarborough.

Here the path on the map goes straight across a field which today had a herd of cattle and some young calves grazing. There is a well used path around the edge of the field that rejoins the public footpath route a few hundred metres further on. The diverted path took us past several huge nests in the tree tops.

Path heading upstream towards the sluices
Path heading upstream towards the sluices

The sluice gates controlling the flow down the River Derwent
The sluice gates controlling the flow down the River Derwent

A stream crossing follwed by an awkward stile
A stream crossing followed by an awkward stile

Anglers' ladder into the river
Anglers' ladder into the river

Farm access track towards Cockrah House
Farm access track towards Cockrah House

The public footpath does continue across the field but there is also a public footpath along the farm access road and it's much easier walking. We followed the farm access road for almost 600m to the start of the public road at Cockrah House farm.

We continued around the flood bank past the sluices and then along the path above the river for about 500m from the sluices. Here just after crossing a small stream and an awkward stile we turned directly up the hillside for about 70m to join a farm access road.

Farm access track towards Cockrah House
Farm access track towards Cockrah House

Nearing the road bridge over the River Derwent
Nearing the road bridge over the River Derwent

Approaching Cockrah House farm along a farm access track
Approaching Cockrah House farm along a farm access track

River Derwent from the road bridge
River Derwent from the road bridge

Path by the River Derwent
Path by the River Derwent

Bluebells by the path
Bluebells by the path

Nearing the footbridge over the River Derwent
Nearing the footbridge over the River Derwent

At the bridge we turned left off the road on to a footpath along the Western river bank. We walked along the river bank for about 350m to a footbridge over the river at map ref. SE967896. Here we crossed the footbridge to the road.

We continued along the road to the edge of the hamlet of Wrench Green, and at the road junction at map ref. SE965892, we turned right and followed the road for about 200m down to the bridge over the River Derwent.

Looking back to the road bridge from the riverside path
Looking back to the road bridge from the riverside path

Forget-me-nots by the path
Forget-me-nots by the path

Blossom on the riverside
Blossom on the riverside

River Derwent from the footbridge
River Derwent from the footbridge

Looking up the valley from the path above Hackness
Looking up the valley from the path above Hackness

Stile into the woods
Stile into the woods

Hackness Hall below the path
Hackness Hall below the path

Path starting to descend from the wood
Path starting to descend from the wood

We passed above Hackness Hall with very pleasant views up the valley for about 1km until the path dropped back down the hillside to the road at map ref. SE975906.

We continued across the road to follow a path climbing up the hillside across a field to the edge of some woodland. We followed the path around the edge of the woodland.

Path along the edge of the woods
Path along the edge of the woods

Looking up the valley over Hackness Hall
Looking up the valley over Hackness Hall

Primroses by the path
Primroses by the path

Walking alongside the road near Hackness
Walking alongside the road near Hackness

Path up the garlic filled valley
Path up the garlic filled valley

Path up the garlic filled valley
Path up the garlic filled valley

Here we walked along the wide grassy area beside the road for about 150m. There we joined a public footpath continuing around the edge of the wood and then turned away from the road to follow the path entering a narrow little valley through the woods on our right. It was a very pretty climb up the valley, full of wild garlic. The scent of it filled the air as we followed the path to the top of the climb. Just beyond the edge of the wood we passed an old lime link on the right of the path

A fine sycamore tree on the roadside
A fine sycamore tree on the roadside

An old lime kiln at the top of the woods
An old lime kiln at the top of the woods

Approaching Suffield Ings farm
Approaching Suffield Ings farm

We continued past Suffield Ings farm and after about 200m we came to the edge of the woods above the Sea Cut. We followed the path down the steep hillside through the wood

Beyond the lime kiln we joined a farm access track and after about 500m we came to Suffield Ings farm, now a holiday cottage.

Bluebells by the path
Bluebells by the path

Path down through the wood beyond Suffield Ings farm
Path down through the wood beyond Suffield Ings farm

View out from the woods at our lunch stop
View out from the woods at our lunch stop

Leaving the wood after our lunch stop
Leaving the wood after our lunch stop

Machinery at Mowthorpe farm
Machinery at Mowthorpe farm

At the road we turned left to walk along the road for about 200m to the bridge over the Sea Cut. Here we tuned left off the road to follow the path along the Southern bank of the Sea Cut.

Near the bottom edge of the wood we found a little bank to sit on with a view out from the wood where we stopped for our lunch break. After our break we continued along the path down across the fields to the road at map ref. SE979883 near Mowthorpe Farm.

Heading for the road near Mowthorpe Farm
Heading for the road near Mowthorpe Farm

Path along the Sea Cut flood bank
Path along the Sea Cut flood bank

Leaving the Sea Cut for the path across the fields
Leaving the Sea Cut for the path across the fields

Path into Raincliffe Woods
Path into Raincliffe Woods

We continued along this track which turned left after about 250m and brought us out to the road at the edge of Raincliffe Woods. We crossed the road and followed a path in the woods running parallel to the road about 50m into the wood.

After about 800m we turned right away from the Sea Cut to follow a path down the embankment and over a narrow wooden footbridge into the fields. We followed the path across the fields for about 300m to turn right onto a bridleway along a farm access track.

Track to the road alongside Raincliffe Woods
Track to the road alongside Raincliffe Woods

Looking back to the fields from the road
Looking back to the fields from the road

Path through Raincliffe woods parallel to the road
Path through Raincliffe Woods parallel to the road

Path through Raincliffe Woods
Path through Raincliffe Woods

Dropping down to the road at the end of the walk
Dropping down to the road at the end of the walk

However from the car park near the road junction we took a path along a track climbing up the hillside and where the path forked we kept to the right hand fork contouring round the valley side. After about 500m from the car park there is a feint path off to the right straight down the steep wooded hillside beside a small watercourse. At the bottom of the slope the path emerges onto the road beside an opening that the stream flows though at the road side opposite the Old Man's Mouth car park and the end of the walk. But beware this path is very easy to miss and the simpler route around the road is much safer.

Where the path crosses paths and tracks coming down the hillside to the road it may not continue directly opposite the crossing but there was a well walked path all the way when we explored a little. After about 1.2km we came to a car park at map ref. SE985875 near a road junction. From here you can simply walk along the road to the junction and turn left to follow the road back to the Old Man's Mouth car park and the end of the walk.

Path through Raincliffe Woods
Path through Raincliffe Woods

Old Man's Mouth - stream through the wall
Old Man's Mouth - stream through the wall

Path through Raincliffe Woods contouring round the hillside near the end of the walk
Path through Raincliffe Woods contouring round the hillside near the end of the walk

Background Notes:
This walk starts in Forge Valley on the River Derwent almost 2 miles north of East Ayton near Scarborough. The name Forge Valley refers to the fact that in the 1400's there were forges in the valley that used locally produced charcoal to smelt iron ore that was also mined locally at that time. The woods here are a National Nature Reserve because this ancient native woodland spans changing habitats from the alder and willow wetland on the valley floor to the oak woods on the acidic soils around the valley rim, and so supports a huge variety of speces in this valley. Our walk is a circular route of 11km, just over 6 miles starting from a car park by the river Derwent, marked Old Man's Mouth. This is the name of an ancient holy well, a spring flowing through the wall on the opposite side of the road. The North York Moors are full of tales about the giant Wade and his wife Bell who are the Old Man and Old Wife so often refered to in names on the moors. From the car park we cross a footbridge over the river to a wheelchair friendly board walk along the river bank. The board walk goes south from here but we head north and after a after about 250m we come to the end of the board walk and follow a footpath across the fields. In a stand of trees along the edge of the field there is a small heronry with several large untidy herons nests in the tree tops. The path across the fields takes us past the wier and sluices at the start of the "Sea Cut". Before the last ice age this was the natural course of the River Derwent flowing straight out to sea at Scarborough. Towards the end of the ice age when this area was right on the edge of the receeding ice sheet, the sea was still covered by a deep ice sheet and the melt water inland had no route out to the sea and was forced to flow south. When the ice sheet finally melted the new channel for the River Derwent was already established taking the river on its present course away from the sea at Scarborough and south to join the River Ouse at Barmby around 40 miles inland. The sea cut was made as an overflow channel to alleviate flooding downstream. We continue across the fields to the hamlet of Wrench Green and follow the river bank towards Hackness. Our route takes us up the hillside to walk along the bottom edge of a wood overlooking Hackness and the little valleys leading to it. The most obvious feature of Hackness is Hackness Hall, a Georgean Mansion designed by John Carr, the celebrated York architect, in the late 1700's. The famous abbess of Whitby, St Hilda, founded a nunnery in Hackness in the late 600's but it was destroyed by Viking raiders less than 200 years later. Just to the east of Hackness we take a path up a wooded gulley to Suffield Ings farm passing a well preserved old lime kiln as the path emerges from the wood to a track across the fields. Suffield Ings farm is now a holiday cottage complex and beyond the farm we go through some pretty woodland called Hawthorn woods. As we come out of the woods there is a very nice view across the sea cut to Rainclife Woods and across the River Derwent valley. Our route takes us down the hillside past Mowthorpe farm to the Sea Cut that drains the River Derwent floodwater to the sea at Scalby. We follow the path along the southern side of the sea cut for a few hundred metres before turning away to follow a path across the fields to Raincliffe Woods. This wood has been forest for many hundreds of years and has survived because it was part of the Royal Hunting Forest of Pickering. This was a huge area kept for the king's pleasure since the Norman invasion. Our route follows a path along the edge of the woods back to the road by the river and the car park at the end of our walk.

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