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Footbridge over Hodge Beck in Sleightholmedale
Footbridge over Hodge Beck in Sleightholmedale

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Route No. 442 - Monday 24 October 2011
Hodge Beck & Sleightholmedale circuit via
Rollgate Bank & Stonely Woods - 10km
North York Moors . . .

Route map from Ordnance Survey Open Space service.

Map: OS Explorer OL26 North York Moors Western area

An interesting exploration of this valley from Ray Brown


Signpost to our path at Sleightholme Cottages
Signpost to our path at Sleightholme Cottages

A yellow disc, a stile & a “Bull in Field” notice
A yellow disc, a stile & a “Bull in Field” notice . . .

Footbridge over Hodge Beck
Footbridge over Hodge Beck

Maintaining our same direction we descended then climbed through the territory shared by the insouciant bull and his harem towards the corner of Slades Wood where a path on the left of the wood led down to a footbridge over Hodge Beck. Once across the beck, we walked right alongside it to a way-marked stile into pasture and thence to a succession of two way-marked farm gates which directed us around the right side of West Sleightholmedale farm via a pedestrian gate and a narrow neck of woodland.

From Ray Brown - With the car parked at SE 658898 on the grass verge of Sleightholme Dale Road beyond Sleightholmedale Cottages at Aumery Park, we walked back to the first cottage where we turned right opposite a signpost. In 60 metres a farm gate gave access to pasture where we branched right towards the far corner, marked by a yellow disc, with a stile and a “Bull in Field” notice.

. . . the promised bull in the field
. . . the promised bull in the field

Path around the right side of West Sleightholmedale farm
Path around the right side of West Sleightholmedale farm

We did not follow the arrow left but went straight on
We did not follow the arrow left but went straight on

However we chose instead the alternative right-of-way which delivered us to the same point; this involved continuing ahead to the corner of the pasture and through a farm gate to SE 649900 where we turned left along the right side of a hedgerow to reach SE 647898.

Emerging through a farm gate into pasture, a waymark directed us hard left to follow a right-of-way running tightly around the back of the farm and leading eventually to SE 647898, the start of a climb through Wether Cote plantation.

Approaching Wether Cote plantation by our preferred right-of-way
Approaching Wether Cote plantation by our preferred right-of-way

Climbing through Wether Cote plantation
Climbing through Wether Cote plantation

Starting on the track along Aldergate Bank
Starting on the track along Aldergate Bank

Moorland at the trig point on Rollgate Bank
Moorland at the trig point on Rollgate Bank

During our walk the Sun’s rays made several failed attempts to penetrate our Tupperware skies and visibility remained poor. The track continued along the escarpment, occasionally via farm gates, first with arable land and later with moorland on the left, for some 1.5 km past the 298 metre triangulation point at SE 634907 and, shortly thereafter at a rather incongruous road sign, it descended down Rollgate Bank to SE 629912.

Following a steep climb through the plantation we emerged on to a relative plateau where we continued though pasture with the field boundary on our left until a vehicle track crossed our path. Here we turned right on to that track which after 150 metres reached and ran along the top of Aldergate Bank. This route exposed the fine panorama of Sleightholme Dale on our right but unfortunately the local weather over the moors differed from the accurately forecast sunshine enjoyed elsewhere in the region.

Sleightholme Dale in poor visibility
Sleightholme Dale in poor visibility

An incongruous traffic sign on the moor
An incongruous traffic sign on the moor

The track descending Rollgate Bank
The track descending Rollgate Bank

Turning point off the track to a footpath at SE629912
Turning point off the track to a footpath at SE629912

Track heading down from Otterhill Common
Track heading down from Otterhill Common

A discernable path ran through pasture immediately on the left of the forest and joined a track towards a farm gate. Beyond it and a second such gate, we swung left to enter woodland through a deer fence.

Here at a farm gate where the moorland ends we turned sharp right through about 140 degrees to pick up a right-of-way across alternating heather-free moorland and pasture towards SE 633910 before veering left downhill over Otterhill Common heading towards a band of woodland at SE 638913.

Heading downhill over Otterhill Common
Heading downhill over Otterhill Common

Entering woodland through a deer fence below Otterhill Common
Entering woodland through a deer fence below Otterhill Common

Dropping down through the forest towards Otterhills
Dropping down through the forest towards Otterhills

Approaching Otterhills farm
Approaching Otterhills farm

Bracket fungus on a birch tree
Bracket fungus on a birch tree

Initially the track went uphill, with a birch tree with bracket fungi on our left and then the fine property of Penny Holme on our right. In 100 metres the track, now surfaced, turned left and then right over Rudland Beck ford and footbridge.

Dropping down through the forest we soon reached a farm track which turned left in front of Otterhills farm and continued to a vehicle bridge over Hodge Beck. Here we kept right and followed the track.

Otterhills bridge over Hodge Beck
Otterhills bridge over Hodge Beck

Climbing steadily from Penny Holme with field boundaries on our right
Climbing steadily from Penny Holme with field boundaries on our right

Signed path at Rudland beck ford just beyond Penny Holme
Signed path at Rudland beck ford just beyond Penny Holme

Veering right to a farm gate leading into woodland
Veering right to a farm gate leading into woodland

Bridleway towards Sleightholme Dale Road
Bridleway towards Sleightholme Dale Road

The woodland path veered left at a notice warning that trespassers would not be forgiven, and took the right-of-way around the left side of the property known as Stonely Woods. Next we turned right on to the access track for that house and after 280 metres at a left bend found a bridleway on the right. This wound its way gently downhill for some 2 kilometres to the Sleightholme Dale Road with our parked car some 440 metres to the left. Total ascent/descent of 927 feet - Ray Brown

Once across the beck we immediately veered left on to a signposted vestigial path running steeply uphill through moorland and scrub before reaching a stile into the first of a succession of four pastures. Having climbed steadily in the same general direction with field boundaries on our right, we arrived at a group of trees in the fourth pasture where we veered right to a farm gate leading into woodland. Looking back we contemplated the Aldergate Bank escarpment we had traversed earlier in our walk.

Looking back to Aldergate Bank escarpment
Looking back to Aldergate Bank escarpment

Bridleway towards Sleightholme Dale Road
Bridleway towards Sleightholme Dale Road