white horse logo

Two of the Low Bridestones above Stain Dale in the Dalby Forest near the
Two of the Low Bridestones above Stain Dale in the Dalby Forest near the end of our walk

Menu:

National Parks

| 2001 walks | 2002 walks | 2003 walks | 2004 walks |
| 2005 walks | 2006 walks | 2007 walks | 2008 walks |
| 2009 walks | 2010 walks | 2011 walks | 2012 walks |
| Find a Route | A few Routes to print out |

Request a Route...

Route No. 419 - Wednesday 1 June 2011
Staindale Lake, Dargate Dikes,
Bridestones circuit - 7km
Dalby Forest, North York Moors . . .

Route map from Ordnance Survey Open Space service.

Map: OS Explorer OL27 North York Moors Eastern area


Stain Dale Lake at the start of our walk
Staindale Lake at the start of our walk

Path to the lake from the car park
Path to the lake from the car park

Canada goose family by the lake
Canada goose family by the lake

Large oak tree by Stain Dale lake
Large oak tree by Staindale lake

We continued into Stain Dale where we parked in the car park at map ref. SE878904, on the left of the drive just before the start of the Staindale Lake. From the car park we followed the path on the opposite side of the road to the dam at the start of the lake. We continued along the path by the lake to another car park at the far end of the lake. Along the way there are picnic tables on the lakeside. Just beyond this car park is a hairpin bend in the road and on the crown of the bend is a track leading away along the valley bottom in an easterly direction.

It was a beautiful sunny morning with clear skies and hot sunshine as my mate, Jim, and I drove out to the Dalby Forest Drive above Thornton-le-Dale on the southern edge of the North York Moors. There is a toll booth near the start of the drive and I was a bit surprised at the current charge of £7.00p nearly double the amount charged last time I was here a few years ago. Anyway we paid up and continued along the drive past the large visitor centre at Low Dalby.

Canada goose family by the lake
Canada goose family by the lake

Looking back to Staindale Lake
Looking back to Staindale Lake

Track up High Staindale
Track up High Staindale

Staindale Beck in High Staindale
Staindale Beck in High Staindale

The boardwalk at Dargate Dikes
The boardwalk at Dargate Dikes

After about 100m along the boardwalk we crossed another forest track and the boardwalk continued on the other side of the track. After a while the boardwalk became rather more rickety and here there was a path above the ditch on our right hand side which was much easier to walk. The path and boardwalk brought us to the Crosscliff view point at map ref. SE895914.

We followed this track along the valley bottom for about 900m. Here the track became a sunken path climbing quite steeply up the head of the valley. After another 400m the path crossed a forest track at map ref. SE894911. On the far side of this track the path became a substantial boardwalk lain on large logs in a deep ditch through the forest. This ditch seems to be part of the Dargate Dikes a Bronze Age system of earthworks.

Path climbing out of High Staindale
Path climbing out of High Staindale


The boardwalk at Dargate Dikes

The view from Crosscliff view point
The view from Crosscliff view point

Intrepid mountain biker starts the boardwalk at Crosscliff
Intrepid mountain biker starts the boardwalk at Crosscliff

Birdsfoot trefoil
Birdsfoot trefoil

Looking back along the moorland track
Looking back along the moorland track

After walking a little over 2km along the track to map ref. SE874923, we turned left off the track on to a path through the trees for about 100m to a moorland track on the far side of the belt of trees. At the moorland track we turned left again to walk in a southerly direction towards the Bridestones. We continued along the track for about 1km to map ref. SE876914, we turned right off the track to follow a narrow footpath across the moor for about 250m to the edge of a steep sided little valley.

We stood at the rail here for a few minutes just to look at the view over the valley of Crosscliff Beck towards Blakey Topping on our left and forest ahead. From the view point we headed in a northwesterly direction along the track above the alley to our right. We caught an occasional glimpse of Blakey Topping through the tree tops but it was all too leafy and lush to get a good view of this conical hill.

Heading NW from the view point
Heading NW from the view point

A glimps of Blakey Topping
A glimpse of Blakey Topping

The start of the path to the Bridestones
The start of the path to the Bridestones

Cobbled path to the Low Bridestones
Cobbled path to the Low Bridestones

Cobbled path to the Low Bridestones
Cobbled path to the Low Bridestones

If you take this path you will miss the bridestones altogether. We followed the path down the valley side as if we were going to cross to the High Bridestones, but after only about 30m we came to a cobbled path on our left which leads along the foot of the Low Bridestones.

The high Bridestones could be seen on the hill top across the valley and there was a path down the valley side leading to them. On our side of the valley is a path that runs along the top edge of the valley above the Low Bridestones.

The High Bridestones across the valley
The High Bridestones across the valley

Cobbled path to the Low Bridestones
Cobbled path to the Low Bridestones

The High Bridestones across the valley
The High Bridestones across the valley

The Low Bridestones seen along the ridge
The Low Bridestones seen along the ridge

The Low Bridestones
Some of the Low Bridestones

I believe that the large rocks were harder than the surrounding rock and were left as the ice retreated at the end of the last ice age. These rocks were then eroded into their odd shapes by windblown sand.

We followed this path past these large wind eroded rocks standing up above the surrounding ground.

The Low Bridestones
Some of the Low Bridestones

The Low Bridestones
One of the Bridestones

The Low Bridestones
Some of the Low Bridestones

Heading back to the forst from the Bridestones
Heading back to the forest from the Bridestones

The path descended quite steeply through the woodland to the fields in the bottom of Stain Dale.

We followed the cobbled path for about 500m to the end of the ridge where the path turned eastwards at the edge of the forest at map ref. SE874906.

Forest path back to Stain Dale
Forest path back to Stain Dale

Forest path back to Stain Dale
Forest path back to Stain Dale

Forest path back to Stain Dale
Forest path back to Stain Dale

We drove back into Thornton-le-Dale and called in a cafe there for some lunch. A very pleasant end to a very pleasant walk.

We followed the path across the fields back to the car park. Our whole walk had been 7km and it had taken us about two and a half hours to walk it.

Wild flowers by the path
Wild flowers by the path

Path across the fields back to the car park in Stain Dale
Path across the fields back to the car park in Stain Dale

Background Notes:
This walk is about 7km, that's a little over 4 miles from Staindale in the Dalby Forest, on the North York Moors. The access to the start of the walk is along the Dalby Forest Drive. This is a Forestry Commission toll road and when I did this walk recently I was shocked to find the toll is now £7 per car. It is a lovely area with plenty to do so I suppose it may not be too high a premium for a great day out. The Forest Drive passes the Dalby Forest Visitor centre with all the facilities you would expect including a cafe and restaurant. Also at the visitor centre is the Dalby Forest Observatory, owned by Scarborough Astronomical Society with a free open evening once a month on a Friday. There's a nice detail on the picnic tables here too. They have a metal rack fixed on one end where you can place your disposable barbeque tray without setting fire to the wooden picnic table. About 4km beyond the visitor centre is a car park just before the forest drive reaches Staindale Lake and this is where the walk begins. We follow the path along the lakeside and up Staindale where the track becomes a sunken track climbing up through the forest. Near the head of the valley the path becomes a substantial boardwalk. This is part of the Mountain Biking 'Black Route' through the forest. The boardwalk is in the bottom of a ditch that gets deeper as the route progresses, until it's about 1.5m deep. This ditch is on the outer western edge of a series of Bronze Age ditches and ramparts known as Dargate Dykes. These seem to have survived the forestry operations unscathed, so well done the Forestry Commission! There are three lines of ditches upto 2m deep and with their rampart banks the whole thing is over 30m wide. No one seems to know what they were used for except that they are a boundary of some kind, marking out & defending territory and containing livestock maybe? The boardwalk brings us to a viewpoint at Crosscliff Wood over looking the valley of Crosscliff Beck out to the wooded hillside of the Langdale Forest. Away to the left is the conical hill known as Blakey Topping which according to legend was formed by the hand full of earth thrown by the giant Wade at his wife. From the viewpoint we head westwards along a wide track. This track is a continuation of the track from the Hole-of-Horcum called the'Old Wife's Way' being the route supposedly taken by Wade's wife escaping from his angry outburst. From this track we head south along the edge of the moor to the Bridestones. These are a series of blocks or pillars of Jurassic sandstone along the two ridges either side of the valley of Bridestones Beck. The sandstone blocks have been erroded by wind blown sand into peculiar shapes, sometimes pockmarked with small hollows called honeycombing. There are similar patterns of errosion on the mid-jurassic sandstone at other places and on the cliffs at Elgol on the Island of Skye there is an area of honeycombing. There is a large area of Jurassic sandstone, the Navajo Sandstone, in a place called Glen Canyon running through Arizona, Colorado and Utah in the USA where the rock had been erroded into truly amazong shapes, but the North York Moors Bridestones are pretty good and well worth a visit. From the Bridestones we return to the Staindale car park down a very pleasant but fairly steep path back through the forest.
Top of Page