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Path in Riccal Dale leading to a footbridge over the River Riccal and up to Hasty Bank Farm
Path in Riccal Dale leading to a footbridge over the River Riccal and up to Hasty Bank Farm

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Route No. 562 - Monday 25 August 2014
Pockley, Riccal Dale,
Hasty Bank Farm circuit - 10km
North York Moors . . .

Route map from Ordnance Survey Open Space service.

Map: OS Explorer OL26 North York Moors Western area


Our parking spot on the edge of Pockley where the walk began along the track to the left
Our parking spot on the edge of Pockley where the walk began along the track to the left

The farm track was a bit wet after the overnight rain
The farm track was a bit wet after the overnight rain

The path led into a wood at the corner of the field
The path led into a wood at the corner of the field

We followed this path for about 500m to the end of the farm access track and then continued along the footpath down the edge of a field for another 200m to the edge of some woodland.

Pockley is a village on a no-through road off the A170 about 2km east of Helmsley. Just south of the village there is a little parking area on the road side at map ref. SE634854. Next to this parking area is a public footpath off the road following a farm access track between the fields.

The track ended & the path continued along the field edge
The track ended & the path continued along the field edge

Path through the woods into Riccal Dale
Path through the woods into Riccal Dale

Path down into Riccal Dale
Path down into Riccal Dale

Footbridge over the dry bed of the River Riccal
Footbridge over the dry bed of the River Riccal

I say river channel because the river flows underground here and the bed is dry except after heavy rain. We followed the path across the rather over grown clearing to a footbridge over the river channel and followed the path up the bank opposite to a forest access track at map ref. SE631847.

The woodland is the start of the wooded valley of Riccal Dale. At the entrance to the wood the path was quite overgrown, a common problem in the late summer, but we pushed our way through and within a few metres the path was clear. We followed the path down a steep gully through the trees to a clearing by the river channel.

Overgrown clearing in the valley bottom
Overgrown clearing in the valley bottom

Path up the bank from the footbridge
Path up the bank from the footbridge

The forest access track along Riccal Dale
The forest access track along Riccal Dale

The River Riccal disappears underground within just a few metres
The River Riccal disappears underground within just a few metres

River Riccal goes underground at the top of the photo
River Riccal goes underground at the top of the photo

About 1.5km further on we came to some pheasant rearing pens, now open to allow the birds to forage freely in the woods. There seemed to be hundreds of birds and they are still dependant on the many grain feeders set up along the forest access tracks. We continued to follow the track gradually climbing up the valley.

At the track we turned right and followed the track up the valley. A few hundred metres after we joined this track we came to the place where the river goes underground. It is quite a substantial fast flowing beck and within the space of about 30m the flow disappears and the river bed is dry, yet there are no obvious fissures - the beck just disappears.

Forest access track along Riccal Dale
Forest access track along Riccal Dale

A few of the many pheasant poults being reared for the shooting season (Oct 1 - Feb 1)
A few of the many pheasant poults being reared for the shooting season (Oct 1 - Feb 1)

Shooter hut taken over by the pheasants just now
Shooter hut taken over by the pheasants just now

A scarecrow style forester by the track
A scarecrow style forester by the track

Wood ants' nest on a bank by the track
Wood ants' nest on a bank by the track

Here we turned right off the track to follow a path down the bank towards the River Riccal. After just a few metres there is a solid timber seat set up as a memorial to Joe Cowton who was a gamekeeper for the Duncombe Park Estate for half a century. It's a very pleasant spot and we sat there for our lunch break.

As we continued up the valley we passed a scarecrow-type figure of a forestry worker by the track. Almost 4km from the point where we first joined the track up the valley we reached a footpath crossing the track at map ref. SE623880.

Continuing along the forest access track up Riccal Dale
Continuing along the forest access track up Riccal Dale

Still following the forest access track up Riccal Dale
Still following the forest access track up Riccal Dale

Turning off the forest track down to the River Riccal
Our turning off the forest track to the River Riccal

Our lunch stop at Joe Cowton's memorial seat
Our lunch stop at Joe Cowton's memorial seat

Footpath down to the River Riccal
Footpath down to the River Riccal

River Riccal seen from the footbridge
River Riccal seen from the footbridge

Passing the dilapidated buildings below Hasy Bank Farm
Passing the dilapidated buildings below Hasty Bank Farm

A white pony followed us closely as we crossed field. It seemed likely that other walkers had foolishly fed the animal in the past and it was quite persistent. About 100m above the farm we joined a track at map ref. SE625884 climbing up the valley side through the woods.

I was reluctant to leave this comfortable seat in such a pretty place but eventually we continued along the footpath through the trees and down to a footbridge over the River Riccal at map ref. SE624882. From the footbridge we climbed up the path across a field and past the dilapidated farm buildings of Hasty Bank Farm.

Footbridge over the River Riccal
Footbridge over the River Riccal

Path from the footbridge up to Hasty Bank Farm
Path from the footbridge up to Hasty Bank Farm

We left the persistant white pony behind at the field gate
We left the persistent white pony behind at the field gate

Track up through the woods above Hasty Bank Farm
Track up through the woods above Hasty Bank Farm

Two riders passed us on the track through the wood
Two riders passed us on the track through the wood

As we approached the sign we could see another track running along the top of the wooded valley side and we turned right to follow this track following the top edge of the valley.

As we plodded slowly up the slope two horse riders passed us quite carefully as the lead horse was young and frisky. At the top of the slope the track doubled back on itself and there was a finger post on the bend.

Track up through the woods above Hasty Bank Farm
Track up through the woods above Hasty Bank Farm

Finger post at the top of the climb thrpough the wood
Finger post at the top of the climb through the wood

We turned right at the finger post to follow this track along the top edge of the wood
We turned right at the finger post to follow this track along the top edge of the wood

One of many pheasant feeders spaced out along the track
One of many pheasant feeders spaced out along the track

Turning off the track to the path by the wall on the wood edge
Turning off the track to the path by the wall on the wood edge

Continuing on the path along the top edge of the wood
Continuing on the path along the top edge of the wood

We crossed this farm track and continued up a bank on the other side and along the side of the wall at the edge of the wood for another 500m to the edge of the wood at map ref. SE625866.

After about 800m where the track bend to the right we kept straight on along a narrow footpath next to the wall at the edge of the wood. After about 400m the path dropped down a bank to cross a track coming from our right to a gate into a field at the edge of the wood.

Continuing on the track along the top edge of the wood
Continuing on the track along the top edge of the wood

Path by the wall along the top edge of the wood
Path by the wall along the top edge of the wood

Crossing a farm access track at the edge of the wood
Crossing a farm access track at the edge of the wood

Stile into a very overgrown corner of a field
Stile into a very overgrown corner of a field

Path around the edge of the field
Path around the edge of the field

Here we found a well walked path along the join of the grassland and bracken. We followed this path to the bottom of the field and continued as the path bent round to our left to follow the bottom edge of the field next to a collapsed stone wall.

Here we crossed a stile into the overgrown corner of a field. The map shows the path going along the field boundary but the field edge was full of bracken over head height (& I'm 5ft 10ins) We pushed our way a bit further into the field and after less than 10m we came out of the bracken to the grassland.

Path between the tall bracken and the grassland
Path between the tall bracken and the grassland

Path along the field edge by a collapsed wall
Path along the field edge by a collapsed wall

Track going parallel to the eastern edge of the wood
Track going parallel to the eastern edge of the wood

Overgrown 'path' into the hawthorn thicket
Overgrown 'path' into the hawthorn thicket

Path through the hawthorn thicket
Path through the hawthorn thicket

This field had recently been cut to clear bracken, large docks and other large weeds and at the end of the field the path was very overgrown as it entered a hawthorn thicket. We pushed our way in and ducked under the prickly branches to make our way for about 400m to the edge of the thicket and into an open sloping field.

After almost 400m the path brought us to the boundary of another block of woodland and we joined a track running through the woodland parallel to its eastern edge. The track turned to our right and began to drop down the valley side. At the start of this bend we kept straight on taking us left off the track along the top edge of a field.

Route of the path off the track along the field edge
Route of the path off the track along the field edge

Path through the hawthorn thicket
Path through the hawthorn thicket

Gate out of the hawthorn thicket
Gate out of the hawthorn thicket

Route across the grassland towards Pockley
Route across the grassland towards Pockley

Joining the wide grassy farm track back to Pockley
Joining the wide grassy farm track back to Pockley

Thatched cottage where we reached the road in Pockley
Thatched cottage where we reached the road in Pockley

At the road we came out opposite one of the thatched cottages in Pockley and turned right to walk along the road for about 200m back to the little parking area on the right hand side of the road and the end of the walk. It had been a dull cloudy day and just as we finished the forecast rain started but did not come to much until later in the evening.

We followed the path across this grassland for about 200m past a large heap of newly excavated stone pieces to a finger post at map ref. SE629856. We turned left here to walk along a wide, grassy, walled farm access track. After about 500m this track led us to the road on the edge of Pockley village at map ref. SE634856.

Newly excavated stone by the path to Pockley
Newly excavated stone by the path to Pockley

The wide grassy farm track back to Pockley
The wide grassy farm track back to Pockley

The road out of Pockley  to our parking spot
The road out of Pockley to our parking spot

Returning to our parking spot on the road out of Pockley at the end of our walk
Returning to our parking spot on the road out of Pockley at the end of our walk

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