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The track along the bottom of Newtondale heading for Newtondale Halt on the North York Moors Railway

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Route No. 491 - Tuesday 16 October 2012
Hole-of-Horcum, Saltergate, Needle Point,
Newton Dale Halt, circuit - 11km
North York Moors . . .

Route map from Ordnance Survey Open Space service.

Map: OS Explorer OL27 North York Moors Eastern area


Looking across the Hole-of-Horcum from the road near the Saltergate car park
Looking across the Hole-of-Horcum from the road near the Saltergate car park

Our turning off the road into the wood
Our turning off the road into the wood

It was raining when we parked there but looking south we could see the edge of the heavy dark clouds and brightness beyond. From the car park (it's 'pay & display' now - £2 all day) we walked about 250m along the road towards Saltergate and took a public footpath into the wood on the right hand side of the road.

The weather forecast for today showed a band of persistent rain moving away northwards during the morning so my mate, Jim, and I drove to the Saltergate car park at map ref. SE852937 on the Pickering to Whitby road (A169) overlooking the Hole-of-Horcum.

Entering the wood on Saltergate Bank
Entering the wood on Saltergate Bank

Path in the wood down Saltergate Bank
Path in the wood down Saltergate Bank

Start of the access road to Glebe farm
Start of the access road to Glebe farm

Path over the moor to the valley of Havern Beck
Path over the moor to the valley of Havern Beck

We crossed the road at map ref. SE851943 and followed the public footpath past the farm buildings of Glebe Farm and the farm house that seems to be used as a holiday cottage. From Glebe Farm the path crossed the moor above the valley of Havern Beck to a kissing gate at map ref. SE845949.

We followed this pleasant path down the bank for about 200m to the road near the Saltergate Inn. The old inn is a sorry sight now. Some repairs had been started and then left unfinished and the site is fenced off.

Reaching the road at the bottom of Saltergate Bank
Reaching the road at the bottom of Saltergate Bank

Passing the farm buildings at Glebe Farm
Passing the farm buildings at Glebe Farm

Path down into the valley of Havern Beck
Path down into the valley of Havern Beck

Looking across the wooded valley of Havern Beck
Looking across the wooded valley of Havern Beck

Descending into the valley of Havern Beck
Descending into the valley of Havern Beck

Stile into the conifer plantation
Stile into the conifer plantation

Leaving the conifer plantation near the railway
Leaving the conifer plantation near the railway

The path comes out of the plantation to cross a patch of very marshy land to a level crossing over the North York Moors steam railway. We crossed the railway and climbed up to the forestry commission access road running along Newtondale.

From the gate the path drops down the steep side of the Havern Beck valley. It's a very pretty path with views down the wooded valley and into Newtondale, but parts of the descent are very slippy. At the bottom of the slope the path goes through a conifer plantation away from the beck.

Descending into the valley of Havern Beck
Descending into the valley of Havern Beck

Path through the conifer plantation
Path through the conifer plantation

Level crossing over the NYM steam railway
Level crossing over the NYM steam railway

The NYM steam railway seen from the level crossing
The NYM steam railway seen from the level crossing

Very steep & slippery start to the climb
Very steep & slippery start to the climb

The start of the climb was very steep & slippery and after about 50m we came to a path coming up the slope from a point about 20m further along the access road. That's the way we should have come! There used to be a pinnacle of rock at Needle Point but it collapsed, I think about 25 years ago but I haven't found any reference to it.

At this stone access road, map ref. SE842952, we turned left to walk along the access road for about 150m. Here we turned right off the access road to begin a steep climb up to Needle Point.

Forestry Commission access road along Newtondale
Forestry Commission access road along Newtondale

Path climbing up to Needle Point
Path climbing up to Needle Point

Overgrown old path contouring round to the spring
Overgrown old path contouring round to the spring

There are some old steps here but they have been damaged by a fallen tree. at the bottom of these steps there is a wooden fence and a wooden slat pathway to Newtondale Spring. The water is iron rich and has left an orange deposit. You can still see that a small stone plunge pool had been built but it is almost all silted up now. Apparently there was a failed attempt in the Victorian era to make this a spa destination reached via the station at Newtondale Halt.

At the foot of Needle Point where the pinnacle used to be, there is an indistinct path off to the left. There are in fact some steps up the bank but quite overgrown with coarse grass. This old path contours round the hillside for about 100m to a rock fall that occurred about 12 years ago. There is a way across the rock fall but it needs care to cross safely. Then the old path continues and after another 50m it drops quite steeply down the bank.

Old path contouring round to the spring
Old path contouring round to the spring

Iron rich water in Newtondale Spring
Iron rich water in Newtondale Spring

Scramble back up the damaged steps from the spring
Scramble back up the damaged steps from the spring

Climbing up to Needle Point
Climbing up to Needle Point

Steam engine hidden by it's steam!
Steam engine hidden by it's steam!

It was still raining and the distant brightness to the south beyond the edge of the dark clouds was still where it had been when we set off from Saltergate. We sat on the seat for our lunch with a little shelter from the overhanging trees. A steam train came up the valley but I could only manage a poor photo through the foliage of some steam apparently hauling a train of coaches.

From the spring we retraced our steps to the path below Needle Point and from there we continued our climb up the hillside to a path that follows the edge of Killing Nab Scar. At the top of the climb we turned left to follow the path along the edge of Killing Nab Scar and after less than 100m we came to a seat above Needle Point with a good view out through the trees across Newtondale.

Returning from the spring to the path to Needle Point
Returning from the spring to the path to Needle Point

Climbing up to Needle Point
Climbing up to Needle Point

The seat for our wet lunch stop
The seat for our wet lunch stop

Path around the edge of Killing Nab Scar
Path around the edge of Killing Nab Scar after our lunch break

Looking across Newtondale from Killing Nab Scar
Looking across Newtondale from Killing Nab Scar

Path around the edge of Killing Nab Scar
Path around the edge of Killing Nab Scar

Looking down Newtondale from Killing Nab Scar
Looking down Newtondale from Killing Nab Scar

We certainly did not see it at it's best today in the rain and low cloud. After about 1.5km we came to a junction in the path at map ref. SE827951.

After our lunch we continued around Killing Nab Scar. There are lovely views from the cliff edge across newtondale all the way along this path.

Looking down into Newtondale from Killing Nab Scar
Looking down into Newtondale from Killing Nab Scar

Our left turn down into Newtondale
Our very sharp left turn down into Newtondale

Newtondale from a rock platform on Killing Nab Scar
Newtondale from a rock platform on Killing Nab Scar

Descending into Newtondale
Descending into Newtondale

Forestry Commission access road along Newtondale
Forestry Commission access road along Newtondale

Railway underpass next to Newtondale Halt
Railway underpass next to Newtondale Halt

We followed the track towards the station but we climbed a stile to go through an underpass next to the station onto a path between the railway line and the beck. The water level in the beck was quite high after all the rain and we followed the path beside the beck for about 300m to a footbridge on our right over the beck.

Here we made a very sharp left turn to follow a path steeply down the valley side. In the rain it was very slippery in places. At the bottom we reached a forestry commission stone access road along the valley floor. We turned left to follow this access road for about 550m to a turning on the right to the station at Newtondale Halt at map ref. SE834949.

Very slippery descent into Newtondale
Very slippery descent into Newtondale

The turning to Newtondale Halt
The turning to Newtondale Halt

Path between the beck and the railway
Path between the beck and the railway line

Steep climb from the beck up to Hudson's Cross
Steep climb from the beck up to Hudson's Cross

Hudson's Cross at the top of our climb
Hudson's Cross at the top of our climb

There are great views across Newtondale from this path and at the top we reached a moorland plateau at Hudson's Cross where we turned right to follow a path around the edge of the cliffs of Huggitt's Scar over looking Newtondale. There is no specific public right of way here it is simply a well walked route over open access land.

(By now the rain was upsetting my camera and all the photos have a fuzzy patch of condensation in the middle)

We crossed the bridge and began a steep climb up the valley side. In places it's so steep that wooden stairs have been fixed there. There is a stream by the path and torrents of muddy water were cascading down the hillside.

Nearing the top of the climb up to the moor
Nearing the top of the climb up to the moor

Looking back up Newtondale from Hudson's Cross
Looking back up Newtondale from Hudson's Cross

Looking across Newtondale from the climb up to Hudson's Cross
Looking across Newtondale from the climb up to Hudson's Cross

Moorland path along the top of Huggitt's Scar
Moorland path along the top of Huggitt's Scar

About 150m from the moorland public footpath
About 150m from the moorland public footpath

After another 250m we came to a public footpath at map ref. SE832938. Here we turned left to follow the public footpath on the moorland plateau around the foot of a small escarpment on our right.

We continued along this path to a path coming up the valley side from the private farm land in the valley bottom at Kidstye Farm. We followed the path away from the valley edge.

The path from Kidstye Farm
The path from Kidstye Farm

Public footpath around the foot of a small escarpment
Public footpath around the foot of a small escarpment

Sheep sitting out the rain
Sheep sitting out the rain

Highland cattle by the path
Highland cattle by the path

Heading back to the car park by the road
Heading back to the car park by the road

At the road, map ref. SE849940, we climbed the stile and walked up the path beside the road back to the car park and the end of our walk. The whole route had been a little over 10km and it had taken us over four and a half hours to walk. As we reached the car park the rain had eased and at last the rain clouds were moving away.

There were cattle tracks along the muddy path and shortly before we reached the road above Saltergate we came to a small herd of highland cattle that graze this moorland to help conserve the moorland and prevent to grow of scrub.

Public footpath heading back to Saltergate
Public footpath heading back to Saltergate

Public footpath heading back to Saltergate
Public footpath heading back to Saltergate

Twisted Scot's Pine tree by the road
Twisted Scot's Pine tree by the road

The highland cattle had found the most sheltered corner to wait for the rain to stop
The highland cattle had found the most sheltered corner to wait for the rain to stop

The Hole-of-Horcum from the road on Saltergate Bank
The Hole-of-Horcum from the road on Saltergate Bank

Background Notes:
This walk is a circular route of 11km, about 7 miles, from the Saltergate car park on the A169 Pickering to Whitby road. Since my last visit here the car park has sprouted a couple of 'Pay & Display' machines. That's progress I suppose. We had a very wet day when we did this walk almost 2 months ago, but I really enjoyed it. The scenery is wonderful and there's plenty of interest along the way. We set off along the road down Saltergate Bank and took a path off on the right down through the woods to the front of the Saltergate Inn. It's a sorry sight now, near derelict with some renovation work left unfinished. We crossed the road and followed a path past Glebe Farm and out to Pifelhead End. Here we follow a very pretty but steep path down the rocky valley side of Havern Beck and already there was a lovely view out along this little side valley into Newtondale. The path leads over a level crossing on the North York Moors Railway. A few hundred metres beyond the railway we begin a steep climb up through the woods towards Needle Point. About halfway up the climb we reach Needle Eye. There's a path off to the left here up a bank at the foot of a rocky outcrop where the needle rock stood before its collapse some years ago. This path is easy to miss and there is no longer a sign, but it's the route to Newtondale Spring. The spring is about 250 meteres from the main path across an old rock fall. In places the old path is still there but it's eroded and not maintained. There's an old timber viewing platform at the spring where the outline of the plunge pool, built in the 1600's, can still be seen, but it's now silted up. The mineral water of the spring has been used as a cure all since Roman times and probably earlier, but in recent times it never really took off as a spa despite Victorian attempts to promote it using the nearby railway. There's a good information board at the spring about its history. From the spring we retrace our steps to the main path and continue the climb up to Needle Point. We follow a path around the edge of a cliff called Killing Nab Scar with really great views out from the woodland on the valley rim across Newtondale and along the valley. There's the added attraction of steam trains passing below on their way between Pickering and Grosmont on the North York Moors Railway. The path along Killing Nab Scar brings us to a stream in a little valley called Hut Slack down the side of the main Newtondale valley and here we follow a steep rather slippery path down Hut Slack to a forest access road along the bottom of Newtondale. We follow the forest road to Newtondale Halt on the North York Moors Railway. There are some seats and a little shelter on the platform where you can have lunch if the weather is poor. But beware that this is a request stop so don't do anything that will persuade the train driver to stop!! We cross under the railway and walk along side Newtondale Beck to a side stream flowing down a narrow gulley from the moorland plateau above. We follow a path climbing steeply up this gulley up steps in the hillside and a timber staircase in a couple of places, past a rocky out crop near the top at Hudson's Cross. At the top we walk along the cliff edge called Huggitt's Scar, again with lovely views across and along Newtondale. This part of the walk is on a path across open access land, not a specific right of way so dogs are not permitted here. We join a path heading back across the moorland plateau and follow this back to Saltergate Bank. There is a herd of Highland Cattle roaming free on this part of the moor. They thrive on the coarse vegetation here and help to maintain the land as open moor and prevent the growth of bushy scrub. From Saltergate Bank we follow the path beside the road with a great view across the Hole-of-Horcum, back to the car park and the end of our walk.

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