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Looking North up Bilsdale from the path up tp Flat Howe
Looking North up Bilsdale from the path up to Flat Howe

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Route No. 357 - Wednesday 13 August 2010
Chop Gate, Flat Howe, Cock Howe circuit - 8km
Bilsdale,
North York Moors . . .

Route map from Ordnance Survey Open Space service.

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


Start of the path by Bilsdale Beck
Start of the path by Bilsdale Beck

There is little sign of a path across the moor at Flat Howe and it's a compass bearing trek through the heather for about a kilometer. On the plus side of things the scenery in Bilsdale is just lovely and the heather is in full bloom, so it's well worth the effort. We left the car park via the bridge over Raisdale Beck and once across the beck we turned left over a stile to follow the public footpath downstream along the beck.

Today Jim & I drove to Chop Gate in Bilsdale where there is a free public car park, with toilets, at the village hall on the southern edge of the village at map ref. SE559993. Bilsdale is one of my favourite areas and it's a long time since we walked here. We had planned a short route but it does include a steep climb up to Flat Howe using an old path that is heavily overgrown and difficult to follow.

Path by Bilsdale Beck
Path by Bilsdale Beck

Path through the woodland by Bilsdale Beck
Path through the woodland by Bilsdale Beck

The path up to Orterley Farm
The path up to Orterley Farm

We continued through the farm following a public bridleway to Crookleith Farms.

The first 700m is through pretty woodland by the beck, then the path climbs up to Orterley Farm.

The path up to Orterley Farm
The path up to Orterley Farm

Path through the woodland by Bilsdale Beck
Path through the woodland by Bilsdale Beck

Jacobs sheep at Orterley Farm
Jacobs sheep at Orterley Farm

We walked about 30m along the access road then turned right over a stile and a wooden footbridge over the beck.

We continued through the farm following a public bridleway to Crookleith Farms. At the farm access road, map ref. SE560978, we turned left.

Old plough at Orterley farm
Old plough at Orterley Farm

Access road at Crookleith farms
Stile and wooden footbridge off the access road at Crookleith Farms

Our route climbing up from Crookleith farms
Our route climbing up from Crookleith Farms

We went through the gate into some rough pasture where there were sheep grazing the hillside. We climbed up across this rough pasture land to another gate at map ref. SE 55960 97065. It was clear that this old iron gate did not open and there was a makeshift stile consisting of concrete building blocks on either side of the gate. Over this stile we had left the farm land behind and were on a steep hillside covered in tall bracken.

Once across the beck the path led us across a field to a track just south of the farm. From there we followed the path climbing up the hillside. Both the field before the farm and the field south of the farm had cattle with young calves, but neither herd reacted to us and we continued on our way up the hillside. Our first objective was a field gate at map ref. SE 55990 97271 (this is the full map ref. from my gps gadget). I've show our path by the white dots on the next few photos.

Start of the sunken track hidden beneath the bracken
Start of the sunken track hidden beneath the bracken

The path follows this depression up the hill side
The path follows this depression up the hillside

The small cairn on a flat rock
The small cairn on a flat rock

As we approached the top of the steepest part of the hillside there was a small cairn on a flat rock at map ref. SE 55726 96782 but the cairn was not very prominent. About 100m higher up the hillside there was a larger rock at map ref. SE 55686 96761 which provides a reasonable landmark.

For much of the way it was shoulder or head high. The path is an old sunken track which should be easy to follow but it was difficult to see over the tall bracken. I logged two more points with my gps gadget on the way up the hillside at SE 55977 96829 and at SE 55866 96772.

The path past the small cairn and 'landmark' rock
The path past the small cairn and 'landmark' rock

The path follows this depression up the hill side
The path follows this depression up the hillside

The path follows this depression up the hill side
The path follows this depression up the hillside

Approximate route passing Flat Howe
Approximate route passing Flat Howe

From there it's a matter of a compass bearing passing close to Flat Howe. I used 249 degrees magnetic to bring us to the track at map ref. SE547963. It's a rough bit of walking across the heather moor.

The sunken track gradually peters out and at map ref. SE 55639 96742 it is only a shallow depression in the ground. From there, there is little sign of a path.

The path follows this depression up the hill side
The path follows this depression up the hillside

A green tiger beetle
A green tiger beetle

Shower clouds gathering as we had our lunch
Shower clouds gathering as we had our lunch

Looking back from the track to the Bilsdale mast
Looking back from the track to the Bilsdale mast

The heather was in full bloom
The heather was in full bloom

As we sat having our lunch the dark shower clouds were building and after our break we put on our waterproofs before setting off again. There were intermittent bursts of rain from then on until we returned to the car. We continued along the track to Cock Howe at map ref. SE542983.

At the track we turned right to walk along the track for about 1.5km past Miley Howe to the cairn at map ref. SE544977. We found a couple of flat rocks at the foot of the cairn to sit on for our lunch break. It was very pleasant in the middle of the heather moor. The weather had been good for walking with sunny spells and shower clouds but no rain.

Boundary stone by the track
Boundary stone by the track

A red tailed bumble bee
A red tailed bumble bee

Following the track to Cock Howe
Following the track to Cock Howe

Path down to Chop Gate from Cock Howe
Path down to Chop Gate from Cock Howe

Path down to Chop Gate from Cock Howe
Path down to Chop Gate from Cock Howe

From there the path took us down the steepest part of the hill with great views of the head of Bilsdale.

At Cock Howe, we turned right to follow the path down across the moor to the edge of a conifer plantation.

Start of the path down from Cock Howe
Start of the path down from Cock Howe

Looking back up the hill towards Cock Howe
Looking back up the hill towards Cock Howe

Path down to Chop Gate from Cock Howe
Path down to Chop Gate from Cock Howe

Almost back at the village hall car park
Almost back at the village hall car park

We both have knee troubles and our climb up to Flat Howe was taken at a very steady pace indeed.

After a long descent we crossed Raisdale Beck and returned to the car park. The whole walk had been about 8km and it had taken us four hours including our lunch break.

The bridge over Raisdale Beck at the car park
The bridge over Raisdale Beck at the car park