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Stepping stones across Wheeldale Beck on the route of the Lyke Wake Walk
Stepping stones across Wheeldale Beck on the route of the Lyke Wake Walk

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Route No. 667 - Thursday 13 April 2017
Rutmoor Beck, Roman Road, Skivick Crag,
Wheeldale Beck stepping stones,
Cropton Forest, Keys Beck Rd circuit - 7km
North York Moors . . .

Route map from Ordnance Survey Open Space service.

Map: OS Explorer OL26 North York Moors Western area


Getting ready for our walk from the little parking area by Rutmoor Beck
Getting ready for our walk from the little parking area by Rutmoor Beck

Setting off up the road from our parking spot
Setting off up the road from our parking spot

The weather forecast was good and we set off from our parking spot heading northwards along the road. We followed the road up the hillside for about 250m and then turned right off the road to a gate and a stile leading to the start of a well preserved section of Roman Road.

This morning my friend, Jim, and I drove out from Pickering, through Stape, to the ford across Rutmoor Beck at map ref. SE 802 969 (it becomes Wheeldale Beck a little further downstream). Just across the ford we parked on the short grass on the right hand side of the road.

Turning off the road to walk along the Roman Road
Turning off the road to walk along the Roman Road

Information board at the Roman Road which may be Saxon (Wade's Causeway)
Information board at the Roman Road which may be Saxon (Wade's Causeway)

Walking along the Roman Road
Walking along the Roman Road

Cairn where the path to Skivick Crag turns off the Roman Road
Cairn where the path to Skivick Crag turns off the Roman Road

We crossed the stile and walked along the path next to the Roman Road for about 800m to map ref. SE 807 980. Here there is a small cairn to the right of the Roman Road where a public footpath heads off across the moorland for about 200m to Skivick Crag, a steep rocky slope above Wheeldale Beck.

There's an information board at the gate that informed us that the 'Roman Road' may not be Roman at all but could be Saxon. Locally it is called Wade's Causeway after the mythical Giant Wade, possibly a renowned Saxon chieftain.

A boggy bit where a stream crosses the Roman Road
A boggy bit where a stream crosses the Roman Road

Heading towards Skivick Crag from the Roman Road
Heading towards Skivick Crag from the Roman Road

Rock slab & plinth at Skivick Crag
Rock slab & plinth at Skivick Crag

Heading for Wheeldale Beck from Skivick Crag
Heading for Wheeldale Beck from Skivick Crag

Heading for Wheeldale Beck from Skivick Crag
Heading for Wheeldale Beck from Skivick Crag

The stepping stones are on the route of the Lyke Wake Walk, a very popular route in the 1970's from Osmotherley to Ravenscar and still walked by a few people.

At the top of the slope there is a large slab of rock on top of a smaller rock plinth. We continued along the path down the rocky slope to the stepping stones across Wheeldale Beck.

Heading for Wheeldale Beck from Skivick Crag
Heading for Wheeldale Beck from Skivick Crag

Approaching the stepping stones across Wheeldale Beck
Approaching the stepping stones across Wheeldale Beck

About to cross Wheeldale Beck on the stepping stones
About to cross Wheeldale Beck on the stepping stones

Following the Lyke Wake Walk route up from Wheeldale Beck
Following the Lyke Wake Walk route up from Wheeldale Beck

Nearing our turning right to cross Howl Moor
Nearing our turning right to cross Howl Moor

Making our way across Howl Moor to the Cropton Forest
Making our way across Howl Moor to the Cropton Forest

The path across Howl Moor is not well defined and we used a compass to keep a check on our direction. The approach to the stile is quite wet & boggy with a small stream, called Blawath Beck, in a deep channel to cross just before the stile. As we approached the stream there was a couple about 100m away who seemed to be looking for something which we assumed was the stile. It turned out that they were not looking for the stile, but were going to cross this arm of Cropton Forest to Stape and we all continued on our way. We crossed the stream, a bit awkward with my wonky knees, and then crossed the stile.

We crossed stepping stones and followed the route of the Lyke Wake Walk up the hillside. It's not a specific right of way but it is across open access land. The path is marked on the OS Explorer maps by a black dotted line. About 350m from the stepping stones at the top of the steep part of the hillside a public footpath crosses the Lyke Wake Walk route. The public footpath is coming from the road at Hunt House about 500m to the north. After crossing the Lyke Wake Walk path, the public footpath heads generally in a southwards direction across Howl Moor for about 1km to a stile over the fence at the edge of Cropton Forest at map ref. SE 815 973 and this is the route that we took.

Lyke Wake Walk path up towards Simon Howe
Lyke Wake Walk path up towards Simon Howe

Making our way across Howl Moor
Making our way across Howl Moor

Looking back to the stile from the moor into the forest
Looking back to the stile from the moor into the forest

Making our way through the trees towards the stony forest access road
Making our way through the trees towards the stony forest access road

Rutted track where many tadpoles lived in the muddy puddles
Rutted track where many tadpoles lived in the muddy puddles

Following the forest road to the first junction we passed
Following the forest road to the first junction we passed

I have no idea how the tadpoles survive to maturity in these shallow transient puddles. At the forest access road we turned left and walked along the access road. The forest access road was gradually climbing and after about 700m we passed a turning on our left that heads towards a ruined farmstead at Wardle Green. At this junction we kept straight ahead.

On our left there were young conifers and on our right the trees were quite mature. We followed a path along the edge of the mature trees for about 50m and came to a rough vehicle track that we followed for about 75m out to a stony forest access road. The puddles in the rutted vehicle track were full of well developed tadpoles.

Reaching the forest access road where we turned left
Reaching the forest access road where we turned left

A restricted by-way shown by the
A restricted by-way shown by the "plum" arrow

Following the forest road up Gale Hill & passing the turn on the left towards Wardle Green
Following the forest road up Gale Hill & passing the turn on the left towards Wardle Green

Forest road going over Gale Hill
Forest road going over Gale Hill

We kept to the right fork here to the lake
We kept to the right fork here to the lake

We followed the track up from the valley bottom to the top of Esp Rigg on the crown of a long left hand bend at map ref. SE 805 961. Here we kept to the right hand fork which took us down the hillside for about 400m to the next valley bottom where the stream had been dammed forming a pretty lake.

At each junction in the forest access tracks I checked that we took the road in the right direction with my compass, it's so easy to slip up navigating through the forest. We continued over Gale Hill where two forest access tracks crossed. From here we continued down the hillside for about 600m to the valley bottom.

Forest road going over Gale Hill
Forest road going over Gale Hill

The forest road going down towards the lake
The forest road going down towards the lake

We paused by the lake just to admire the view
We paused by the lake just to admire the view

Newly surfaced forest road going up from the lake
Newly surfaced forest road going up from the lake

Walking down the road to the for over Rutmoor Beck
Following Keys Beck Road towards Rutmoor Beck

Walking down Keys Beck Road to Rutmoor Beck
Walking down the road to the for over Rutmoor Beck

Just beyond the beck was our parking spot and the end of our walk. The whole route had been 7km and it had taken me a little over two and a half hours to walk with out any long stops except my usual series of too many photographs. On the way home we drove past the couple we had seen earlier sitting by the roadside in Stape.

From the lake we continued along the track which had very recently been resurfaced with rolled crushed stone. About 250m from the lake we came to the edge of the forest at Keys Beck Road. We turned right at the road and walked down the road for about 600m to the ford across Rutmoor Beck.

Leaving the forest at Keys Beck Road
Leaving the forest at Keys Beck Road

Following the road down towards Rutmoor Beck
Following the road down towards Rutmoor Beck

Rutmoor Beck next to our parking spot
Rutmoor Beck next to our parking spot

Crossing the ford over Rutmoor Beck at the end of our walk
Crossing the ford over Rutmoor Beck at the end of our walk

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