An unenticing weather forecast made me chose a relatively short, straightforward walk today. It was windy and freezing cold and not at all like the first day of spring but, after a flurry of snow as I was leaving the car at the Newgate Bank car park, it stayed dry most of, if not quite all of, the day. It’s a lovely walk rouind the top of Rievaulx Moor and along Cowhouse Bank – where I came across no houses and no cows - with great views up to Bilsdale. After the Cowhouse Bank car park, Paddy Dillon recommends taking a path through the woods to pick up the public right of way on the other side of Carlton Bank Farm. Not a right of way but everyone uses it, he says. But there’s now a sign on the fence encouraging me to take a permissive path through the field, along the edge of the wood as far as the kissing gate in the first fence then right and south along the other side of the same fence all the way to the woods. So I did that.
Then it’s a rather fussier return route that starts out through fields and woods, passing Carlton Grange Farm and left on the road at High Baxton’s Farm. Then a couple more fields took me down into the upper reaches of Beck Dale which up here is a lovely murky den with a dry river bed, a place where you would be quite unsurprised to encounter a stegosaurus. I got slightly apprehensive soon after this on finding a notice on a tree, “WARNING MOTOR CYCLE EVENT IN PROGRESS CROSSING POINT AHEAD”, but my apprehension was much reduced a few step further on by another notice, “CAUTION MOTOR CYCLE EVENT 18th 19th OCTOBER.” I guess the motor cycle event people weren’t too fastidious about cleaning up after themselves. Here I was advised by Dillon that navigating the right of way west through these wood is a bit tricky. He’s is right. A little help is to be had from little bits of yellow tape wrapped round bits of tree of tree here and there to mark the way but whoever put them there has spaced them out enough to keep things sporting. Matters weren’t helped by an abundant of bright yellow arrow signs stuck to trees everywhere whose purpose I couldn’t quite guess but were certainly not in the business of marking the right of way. Most likely they’re another left-over from the same motor cycle event. It all got rather confusing and at more than one point I had to consult a compass. Eventually I found the place where the right of way does a sharp left down a track which is helpfully marked by a little yellow picture of a walker. Navigation got much easier hereafter but, just to keep things interesting it now started to snow. It kept snowing quite heavily as I made my way along the track through the rest of the woods and down past Oscar Park Farm to the B1257. The snow was starting to lie now so I made some haste for the last mile up the road slightly fearing the worst for the homeward driving conditions but, once I got back to my car and thawed out a little, all was well as I drove down the hill to Helmsley and back home to Sheffield. I wonder if doing the whole thing anticlockwise wouldn’t make for a more satisfying walk, getting the relatively dull mile of roadwalking over at the start and finishing up over the glorious high moorland.
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