Walk No.6 Goathland, Littlebeck, Whinstone ridge circuit - 16km

Route map from Ordnance Survey Open Space service.

This description gives enough information to find the intended route of the walk on a suitable map. When used with the map the description should help you to find the route and enjoy the things of interest along the way. For this walk I suggest that you use the Ordnance Survey Outdoor Leisure Map 27 which covers the North York Moors, Eastern Area at a scale of 1 :25000. The route finding is a bit tricky in places on this walk so you will need to be confident of your map reading. Please do not try to find your way without a proper map.

The walk is a circular route of about 16 km. and should take about 5 hours of steady walking plus any stops you make along the way. There are a few climbs out of the valleys and in some places you will need to pick your way through the muddy bits. You will need strong footwear (preferably walking boots) and the usual safety precautions for this outdoor activity.

My description of the route starts at map reference NZ 833013.This is the car park in the village of Goathland near the top of the hill that leads up from the railway station. From the southern end of the car park turn left down the road towards the station. After 200 m. on the bend in the road take the narrow road to the left down a steep hill and across the bridge over the river to the station itself. Cross the railway through the wooden pedestrian gate. Once across the railway turn left and follow the path climbing up next to the wall. As you reach the top of the slope in about 350 m. there is a good view along the railway to the north and the few houses around the ford in the little valley ahead.

Follow the path down to the ford but do not cross the river. At the ford turn right along a stoney track up the valley. There is a stream on the left of the track and after 150 m. the track crosses the stream and climbs up the valley side with the stream dropping away to the right. After another 250 m. the path turns left and continues to climb for another 150 m. where the track again turns left. The next part is rather messy. The area of moor ahead is criss-crossed with paths and sheep tracks. The point to aim for is map ref. NZ 836032 where the public footpath crosses an unfenced minor road. There is a finger post footpath sign here which can be seen from a good distance away. Once you have identified the route on your map it's not too hard to find your way across the moor to this minor road, just keep heading north for about 600 m.

At the road go straight across on the farm road towards Arundel Hill. Stay on the farm road to Greenlands Farm. Here the path by-passes the farm to the east and drops down a steep field of rough sheep pasture to a stream. Cross the stream and follow the path beside the field wall up the hill for about 350 m. where the wall bends left and the path follows it for another 500 m. to a minor road. Cross the road and follow the track north east along Lowthers Crag. There are quite good views along the Esk valley on this part of the walk. After about 400 m. the track steps to the left a few yards (if you go straight on you will end up in the old quarry bottom). About 100 m. beyond the quarry area look out for two small heaps of stones (they're almost too small to qualify as cairns).

The two heaps of stones are in the heather on the right hand side of the track. They mark the start of a bridle way, but it's quite hard to spot. At the beginning it looks like a rather insignificant sheep track. The first 50 m. or so climb up through the heather away from the track almost at right angles. If you simply follow the trodden path you will find that you are heading for the trig point on Black Brow. This path does in fact continue on to meet the A 169 at map ref. NZ 862048 which is the right place, however this is not a public footpath although it does seem to be quite well used. The public right of way follows the bridle way and this is quite hard to find at the beginning. Let's recap from the track and the two small heaps of stones. At the stones turn right off the track onto a narrow trodden path through the heather. After about 50 m. the heather has been cleared by burning it off last year and the ground has almost no vegetation, only the whitened dead twigs of the old heather. In this area the bridle way bears away to the left following the contour around the end of the hill (heading generally south east towards the A169). There is a good view from here across to Whitby and you can see Whitby Abbey on the cliff top. If you make your own way around the end of the hill at this level you should spot the bridle way after about another 300 m. as it develops into a well defined track through the heather. It's in the area where all the vegetation has been burnt off that it's so hard to spot the bridle way track.

When you reach the A169 at map ref. NZ 862048 cross the main road to a farm track opposite. There is a stile next to the field gate across the track. Follow this track down the hill for about 1 km. where it becomes a narrow tarmac lane between high banks. After another 300 m. the lane meet a minor road on a sharp bend continue straight on, joining the road and heading down the hill to Littlebeck. In Littlebeck the road turns though a hairpin bend to the left at a ford across the stream. As the road climbs up on the other side of the stream it turns through a second hairpin bend to the right and then almost at once another sharp bend to the left. Just as this third bend starts there is a public footpath off to the right of the road following the stream.

Follow the path up-stream for about 1 km. through lovely wild deciduous woodland to "The Hermitage" high up the valley side. This is a chamber hollowed out of the solid rock. The date 1769 is carved in the rock above the doorway, but I do not know if any hermit ever lived there! Just past the Hermitage the path forks. The left hand fork continues to climb slowly and the right hand fork begins to drop quickly down to the stream. Take the right hand path for about 350 m. to a wooden foot bridge. Cross the bridge and in another 50 m. there is a second bridge on the right. Cross this second bridge and follow the path up the valley side for 600 m. to Leas Head Farm.

The path comes out of the woods beside the farm into the field in front of the farm buildings. Cross this field diagonally to join the bridle way on a track called Leas Head Road on the map. After about 1 km. the track leaves the fields behind and begins to cross the moor. There is a little valley to the left with the edge of the conifer plantations on the other side of the valley. After 800 m. the map shows another bridle way crossing our track at right angles. It may not seem to be quite like that on the ground. Keep your eye on the edge of the plantation to the left. The track on the ground bends to the left and our route follows it to the left just clipping the western end of the plantation and then climbing up the moor to the track that runs along Whinstone Ridge. The Whinstone ridge is a block of hard volcanic rock that has intruded into a fault in the sedementary rocks. The volcanic rock (the whinstone) is about 25 m. wide and runs across the moor for 8 or 9 km. to the river Esk. The rock was quarried in the early part of the century for road stone, hence the apearance of a mini-rift valley running along the ridge.

Turn right along Whinstone ridge for about 500m to the A169. Cross the A169 and follow Whinstone ridge for another 400 m. to a minor road 'T'-junction. Continue in the direction of Whinstone ridge across the juction and down the unfenced minor road for 1.2 km. to a track on the left. Turn left onto this track and follow the track around the moor for 2.3 km back to Goathland Station. Cross the railway at the station and take the road up the hill from the station back to the car park where the route began.
I hope you enjoy this walk so much that you'll want to try another one as soon as you can.

Happy wandering! Frank