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Looking across Bilsdale from the path up to Medd Crag from Seave Green
Looking across Bilsdale from the path up to Medd Crag from Seave Green

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Route No. 358 - Tuesday 17 August 2010
Chop Gate, Seave Green, Medd Crag,
Urra, Cold Moor circuit - 9km
Bilsdale
North York Moors . . .

Route map from Ordnance Survey Open Space service.

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


The road into Chop Gate in Bilsdale at the start of our walk
The road into Chop Gate in Bilsdale at the start of our walk

Leaving the road by Esp House
Leaving the road by Esp House

Texel tupps grazing by the path
Texel tupps grazing by the path

About 200m before we reached the road the path took us along the fence surrounding a large house that stands next to Bilsdale Beck. There was a labrador type dog in the garden which began aggressively to bark and run around inside the fence. Not uncommon behaviour and not normally a problem. As we continued past the house the dog ran down from the garden into the beck to go around the garden fence and appear up the bank all teeth and snarling, clearly intent on causing trouble. Shouts and brandished walking sticks (sorry! - trekking poles) kept it out of biting range and we continued to the road where at last this animal stayed and we left it behind. It is clearly a dangerous animal and I suspect that anyone with their own dog or with small children would be in some difficulty.

This morning, my neighbour, Jim, drove us to the village hall car park at Chop Gate in Bilsdale, map ref. SE559993. From the car park we crossed the main road (B1257). Just beyond the drive to ESP House we climbed over a stile into a field. We crossed the field to the far left hand corner where there is a stile at the bottom of a small bank. We climbed this stile and then another about 50m away to our left. This second stile took us into a small wood. To start with there was no obvious path but our route followed the fence along the western edge of the wood and soon there was a narrow but clear path leading to a stile at the end of the wood. Over the stile we followed a path across the fields roughly parallel to the B1257. We continued to a minor road at Seave Green, map ref. SE562002.

Entering the little wood behind Esp House
Entering the little wood behind ESP House

Looking across Bilsdale to Cock Howe
Looking across Bilsdale to Cock Howe

Looking across Bilsdale from the path to Seave Green
Looking across Bilsdale from the path to Seave Green

The road to Bilsdale Hall in Seave Green
The road to Bilsdale Hall in Seave Green

Path from Bilsdale Hall up to Medd Crag
Path from Bilsdale Hall up to Medd Crag

Here we turned right off the road to follow a path climbing up the hillside

We walked up the road for about 400m to Bilsdale Hall.

Leaving the road near Bilsdale hall
Leaving the road near Bilsdale Hall

Path from Bilsdale Hall up to Medd Crag
Path from Bilsdale Hall up to Medd Crag

Looking across Bilsdale from the path up to Medd Crag
Looking across Bilsdale from the path up to Medd Crag

This high quality wall could be the Bilsdale Estate enclosure boundary
This high quality wall could be the Bilsdale Estate enclosure boundary

Path along the line of the earthwork below Medd Crag
Path along the line of the earthwork below Medd Crag

We sat here for a break with lovely views over Bilsdale and out northwards to Roseberry Topping.

After about 1km we reached the earthworks below Medd Crag at map ref. NZ573009. Here we turned left to follow a path along the line of the earthwork for about 600m to map ref. NZ573016.

Path from Bilsdale Hall up to Medd Crag
Path from Bilsdale Hall up to Medd Crag

.This high quality wall could be the Bilsdale Estate enclosure boundary
This high quality wall could be the Bilsdale Estate enclosure boundary

 

Looking across Bilsdale to Hasty Bank and Cold Moor
Looking across Bilsdale to Hasty Bank and Cold Moor

Starting the descent to Urra
Starting the descent to Urra

Twisted tree trunk by the path
Twisted tree trunk by the path

The path follows a wall on the southern edge of the plantation. We walked down the steep slope to the road at map ref. NZ571017. We climbed down a ladder stile onto the road opposite "Maltkiln House".

After our break we set off straight down the steep slope. There was a sunken path to follow but it was completely overgrown with bracken. After about 150m we came to the edge of a plantation that had been completely felled.

The overgrown path down to Urra
The overgrown path down to Urra

Flowers on a Scots Pine, release clouds of pollen in the wind
Flowers on a Scots Pine, release clouds of pollen in the wind

Reaching the road at Maltkiln House
Reaching the road at Maltkiln House

Path across the fields from Urra
Path across the fields leaving Urra

Following a stream down from Urra
Following a stream down from Urra

Footbridge over Bilsdale Beck
Footbridge over Bilsdale Beck

The stream gradually drops away from the fields so that a steep bank develops along the edge of the fields. At around map ref. NZ567019 there is an indistinct path down the bank and from there the path follows the stream through a pretty wooded area with the fields up above at the top of the bank. I have recently recieved a report (23/07/11) that there are two fallen trees across the path here and the safest way to pass is to simply scramble through the fallen branches. Apparently there is a deep ditch on one side if you try to go around the fallen trees so beware. Where the stream joins Bilsdale Beck there is a footbridge over Bilsdale Beck and a path up some steps through the undergrowth to the road (B1257) at map ref. NZ564019.

Here we turned right to walk along the road through the scattered village of Urra. After about 200m we turned left off the road to follow a path through the entrance to a house and across some neatly cut grass to a stile. Over the stile was some rough ground between two farm buildings. We walked between the buildings and across a yard, then down a bank to a stile through the hedge into a field. There was no defined path in the field but we made our way straight down the slope past a pond on our right to a stile in the fence to the next field. From there we followed the edge of the field with a small overgrown stream on our left.

Bracken spraying helicopter over Urra Moor
Bracken spraying helicopter over Urra Moor

Harebells by the path
Harebells by the path

Following a stream down from Urra
Following a stream down from Urra

Bilsdale Beck just before we reached the road
Bilsdale Beck just before we reached the road

Leaving the road to climb up to Broadfield Farm
Leaving the road to climb up to Broadfield Farm

Large oak tree in the gulley near Broadfield Farm
Large oak tree in the gully near Broadfield Farm

Gate from the gulley to a field by the farm
Gate from the gully to a field by the farm

Through the gate we emerged into a field next to Broadfield Farm at map ref. NZ562019. We followed a path up the hillside along a field edge to the left of the farm.

At the road we turned right and walked along the road for about 50m. Here we climbed over a stile on the left hand side of the road through a hedge. There is a footpath marker at the stile but it's hard to spot amongst the dense summer undergrowth. Over the stile we were in a very pleasant wooded gully We followed the gully up hill for about 200m. Here there is a pedestrian gate at the top of the right hand bank of the gully

Following the gulley up to Broadfield farm
Following the gully up to Broadfield Farm

Large oak tree in the gulley near Broadfield Farm
Large oak tree in the gully near Broadfield Farm

Looking back across Bilsdale from Broadfield Farm
Looking back across Bilsdale from Broadfield Farm

Climbing up from Broadfield Farm
Climbing up from Broadfield Farm

Heather on the slopes of Cold Moor
Heather on the slopes of Cold Moor

We stayed on the track climbing up for a few hundred metres to a gate at map ref. NZ555020. Through the gate we turned left off the track and made our way over to a wall about 100m away. At the wall we turned uphill to follow the wall for about 100m to a point where the wall turned left. There was a strip almost 3m wide cut in the heather to provide access to a line of grouse shooting butts. This gave us some easy walking and the moor here is open access land so we followed this access path for about 250m to the path along the ridge of Cold Moor at map ref. NZ552019.

At the top of the field there was a gate into some rough shaley land. There was no defined path here but we made our way straight up the step slope full of rabbit holes in the soft shale. After about 100m we came to a track running around the hill across our route. We crossed the track to a steep overgrown path opposite and continued up the hill side. After about another 100m we came to a rough track at a fork in the track. We took the right hand fork going round the hillside before bending left and climbing up once more.

Broadfield Farm
Broadfield Farm

Steep overgrown path above Broadfield farm
Steep overgrown path above Broadfield Farm

Acess track along a line of shooting butts
Access track along a line of shooting butts

The Wainstones and roseberry topping seen from Cold Moor
The Wainstones and Roseberry Topping from Cold Moor

Heather on Cold Moor
Heather on Cold Moor

Starting to descend towards Chop Gate
Starting to descend towards Chop Gate

At map ref. NZ552016, where the track forks, we took the left hand fork and began to descend back towards Chop gate.

We sat on the bank by the path for another short break to admire the views. After our break we followed the path along the ridge.

Track along the ridge of Cold Moor
Track along the ridge of Cold Moor

Heather on Cold Moor
Heather on Cold Moor

A meadow brown butterfly with its wings closed
A meadow brown butterfly with its wings closed
Compare with gatekeeper seen on route 355

Looking down Bilsdale from Cold Moor
Looking down Bilsdale from Cold Moor

Gate from the moor
The gate from the moor

This part of the track was always very boggy indeed but the path has been improved and the stream is confined to a ditch to the left of the path and it's pleasant easy walking along the track.

At map ref. NZ555004 we came to a gate at the edge of the moor. We went through the gate onto a track between the fields.

Track between the fields back to Chop Gate
Track between the fields back to Chop Gate

Track between the fields back to Chop Gate
Track between the fields back to Chop Gate

Sunken track back into Chop Gate
Sunken track back into Chop Gate

The whole walk had been about 9km and it had taken us four hours to walk including our breaks and two very slow climbs from Bilsdale up to Urra Moor and up to Cold Moor. Wonderful views at any time of year but enhanced just now with the heather in full bloom.

The final 150m of the route is down a sunken track that emerges onto the road in Chop Gate from behind the chapel at map ref. SE559997. From there we walked along the road back to the village hall car park.

Sunken track back into Chop Gate
Sunken track back into Chop Gate

The free public car park at Chop Gate village hall
The free public car park at Chop Gate village hall

Background Notes:
This walk is a 9km, 5.5 miles, circuit in Bilsdale from the village of Chop Gate, but the dialect pronounciation "Chop Yat" is normally used. The scenery in Bilsdale is second to none and it's one of my favourite places to walk, with a huge variety of excellent routes to choose from. This area was settled and farmed by the Vikings and the place names often have Norse origins. Bilsdale itself is named after the Viking Bildr who once ruled the valley. Our walk starts from the village hall in Chop Yat where there is a good public car park. The walk needs careful navigation and there are some little used paths that could be overgrown. They need to be walked to keep the paths open. We follow a path across the fields following Bilsdale Beck upstream to Seave Green, a hamlet adjoining Chop Yat. We turn away from the beck here and climb up to Bilsdale Hall. The original hall was used by the monks of Kirkham Abbey until the abbey was destroyed in the 1530's. After that the lands passed through various hands to eventually become the property of Lord Feversham, and his Bilsdale estate was mostly sold off around the end of the second world war in the mid 1940's. It's just a short diversion of about 250m to the left from Bilsdale Hall to the church of St. Hilda. There has been a church on this site since Norman times and the original church was probably built by Guillaume Espec, the father of Walter Espec, the Lord of Helmsley who donated land for the founding of both Rievaulx and Kirkham Abbeys. From Bilsdale Hall we continue to climb up the valley side to pass through a rocky outcrop called Medd Crag on the valley rim and reach the open moor. Here we head northwards along a prehistoric earthwork known as Billy's Dyke. The name refers to William the Conqueror. After the Norman invasion of England, William's rule was not accepted in the north of the country so William brought an army north and carried out a brutal repression of all dissent, known as 'The Harrying of the North'. Returning from action in County Durham he became lost overnight in a snow storm on Urra Moor and was lucky to survive. From Billy's Dyke we turn west to follow an overgrown path down a steep gully to the village of Urra, originally a Viking settlement. From Urra we use a path across a house drive and between some farm buildings. It's another little walked path down the valley side and it gets prettier as we descend down the edge of the field by a stream to recross Bilsdale Beck next to the main road through Bilsdale. We cross the road and then turn off the road to walk up another little used path up a pretty wooded gulley to pass Broadfield Farm at the head of the gulley. From here the route continues up onto the ridge of Cold Moor. The path here is also hard to follow, but worth the effort. Throughout this walk the views across Bilsdale and out to the northern head of the valley are stunning with the array of peaks along the Cleveland Hills that overlook Teesside. Once on the ridge of Cold Moor we head back towards Chop Yat and again the descent from Cold Moor offers lovely views down Bilsdale. It's a great way to end this short tour of this amazing valley.

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