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Newtondale, Cropton, Newton-on-Rawcliffe, Levisham and the surrounding area

This is one of my very favourite areas of Yorkshire - beautiful, varied and not heaving with visitors. So what area am I talking about? Basically it's the area North of Pickering, bounded in the South by the Pickering to Helmsley road (A170), in the East by the Whitby to Pickering road (A169), in the North by the top of the moors and in the West by Rosedale.

Most people pass it by on the main roads, and as it's not really on the road from anywhere or to anywhere it's relatively unspoilt. But as walking country goes, it just doesn't get any better.

Newtondale

Newtondale

Newtondale itself is a long meandering, nay a Gorge, carved out of the moors by Glacial meltwater about 10,000 years ago.

Today it' best known as the valley the North York Moors Railway runs in. Trains ply the gorge from Pickering, through Levisham, on to Goathland and Grosmont, and some even make it as far as Whitby.

There's a fantastic network of circular walks around the railway, and leaflets can be picked up at Pickering or Grosmont. But  most people just go from end end to t'other. And why not. A heritage railway where you get to travel a decent distance between places that are actually interesting , well that's quite something.

I once caught the steam train from Llangollen, and it was a pretty ride, but the far end was a station in the middle of nowhere. No walks, no nothing really. So like everyone else I spent 5 minutes in the place and caught the same train back.  

The NYMR is not like that, and if you take advantage of the "Day Rover" tickets it's good value too.

Cropton

Cropton village

One of the picture postcard villages in this area, Cropton has that typical linear well spaced out layout that seems to be the norm in these parts. Plenty of places doing B&B, but the great joy of the place is the New Inn. If one ignores the very pretty but thoroughly irritating website, it's a very good pub indeed.

Somehow it's managed to position itself as both a village pub and a tourist pub. They do excellent food, nice rooms (dogs welcome), sell maps and guidebooks, and have brilliant real ale from their very own brewery. No mere micro-brewery this, it's been going for twenty five years, operates from a purpose built building behind the pub, and produces beautiful beer.

I spent a lovely weekend at the New Inn not so long ago, and worked my way through about a half dozen of their own beers that were on sale in the pub. All different, all with something to offer, but at the end of the day, the original "Two Pints" won out as favourite.

Definitely a favourite pub that I'll happily make a detour to visit, and if you're passing, pop in and buy some bottled beer to take home.

Like most small villages, there isn't a shop or post office any longer.

Newton-on-Rawcliffe (Newton-upon-Rawcliffe)

Newton-on-rawcliffe, North Yorkshire

Call it either, even the locals don't seem to know which is the right name. This is an even prettier little village than Cropton, with a wonderful duck pond right in the middle of the village green.

Again, like Cropton, the village shop is long gone, but this is still a thriving community. There's a very nice playground for kids, and the whole vilage is laid out in that lovely spacious manner that is the trademark of the area.

Once again, the star of the show is the pub. The White Swan is a thriving very welcoming little pub, which again caters for both visitors and locals. There's a great beer garden round the back, but it's much nicer to sit out front watching the world go by.

White Swan Campsite, Newton-on-rawcliffe, North Yorkshire

Attached to the pub is a very long thin quiet campsite, the first half for caravans and motor homes, the second for tents. The shower block used to be, ermmm interesting, but it was completely rebuilt for the 2010 season, and is now just about the most luxurious I've ever seen on a campsite. And you don't have to put 50p in a meter anymore either! Definitely a gem of a campsite, ideal for young kids or as a base for walking or mountain biking. And it's fantastic to hear  the sound of the steam trains whistling in Newtondale Gorge below.

The second great feature of the pub is the location. Follow the public footpath through the pub yard and down the side of the campsite, then turn left at the bottom. After a few hundred yards there's a bench and you have fantastic views over Newtondale Gorge. It's directly above Levisham station, and you can watch the steam trains arrive and depart (20 past the hour). There's not too many pubs can boast a feature like that!

Beer is good (generally Sheep) and the food is generously portioned and cheap enough but a little pedestrian. In 2010 they were looking for a chef to develop the food side of the business, so it might be much improved by now. 

Levisham Station

Levisham Station, North Yorkshire

First stop on the North York Moors Railway from Pickering is Levisham Station. I don't know why it's called Levisham Station, because it's a lot closer to Newton-on-Rawcliffe than Levisham. It's a lovely walk to Levisham from the station, but the village is above the valley, and be warned,  it's one heck of a steep hill. There's a footpath to Newton as well, but that's even steeper.

The station itself is a delightful period piece, and in high season there's a very nice refreshment stall staffed by volunteers. Sandwiches, hot drinks, pies and suchlike are served. Makes a good lunch stop if you're walking or mountain biking.

The railway have marked out several circular walks around the stations, and you can get the leaflet from any of the stations. Or just get a map, there's so many obvious walks in this area it's unbelievable.

Levisham

Levisham , North Yorkshire

Well if Cropton was pretty and Newton-on-Rawcliffe prettier, Levisham exceeds them both and is prettier still. Laid out even more spaciously, and even less on the road to anywhere, this is as nice as it comes. 

Once again the heart of the village is the pub, The Horseshoe Inn. Right at the top of the main (only) street, this is an idyllic setting. And if you've walked or cycled up the hill from Lockton, you'll definitely be in need of a restorative pint or two.

There's a beer garden at the back, but again everyone sits out front. Food is good, slightly upmarket from the New Inn and the White Swan, and priced to reflect that. But it's still good value. They do accommodation - looks nice on the website (one dog friendly room) but I've never stayed.

There are two fairly short circular walks from the village. Both take about 2 hours, and both involve one helluva steep hill.

  • Down Limpsey Gate Lane at the side of the pub to Dundale Rigg. Left at Dundale Rigg across themoors and down the hill to Levisham Station, then back by the footpath to Levisham
  • Down Limpsey Gate Lane at the side of the pub to Dundale Rigg. Right at Dundale Rigg, down Dundale Griff and through the woods along Levisham Brow before joining the road and climbinmg back up to Levisham.

but never having stayed I've no ide

Cawthorne Roman Camp

Cawthorne Roman Camp, North Yorkshire

Now here's one not many people know about. Just off the road from Cropton to Newton-on-Rawcliffe is Cawthorne Roman Camp, one of the best Roman remains in Yorkshire.

This one was a military camp, sort of like a roman version of Aldershot. There's the remains of the barracks area, and the practice ground for drilling and weapons training. Obviously there's not too much left to look at, but the ditches are still very clear and the location is stunning - right on the edge of the escarpment overlooking Elleron Lake. Definitely a contender for best view in Yorkshire.

There's information boards around the site, but the official guide book is aimed at 10 year olds. Which is fine if you have (or are) a 10 year old, but not great otherwise. The book can be bought from the tourist information place in Pickering or the New Inn at Cropton. And what a good excuse to visit the New Inn.

Plenty of free parking in the woods adjoining the site, and good dog walking too. Though occasionally there are some sheep on the camp to keep the vegetation down.

But they've missed a trick. The camp is literally a few hundred yards from the Tabular Hills Walk - but there's no path connecting the two. All it would take is a stile in the fence near the viewpoint, but instead you have to walk round by the road to get from one to the other. A great shame.

Tabular Hills Walk

Levisham Station, North Yorkshire

A fairly new long distance path, initiated by the National Park Authority. It starts at Helmsley and traverses the bottom edge of the moors, reaching the coast at Scalby Mills near Scarborough. Haven't walked it myself, but it's on the to-do list.

Forty nine miles in length, it turns the Cleveland Way into a circle - well almost if you forget the Scarborough to Filey bit, which you shouldn't because it's a lovely part of the Cleveland Way.

It's worth remembering there are some pretty steep valleys between the hills, so though short I suspect it could be a bit of a killer. Using the moorsbus it could easily be done in stages, or if doing it in one go, there's youth hostels at Helmsley, Scalby Mills and Lockton.  The picture is of Levisham Station from the top of Newton Bank.

Wheeldale Roman Road

Wheeldale Roman Road, North Yorkshire

In the middle of nowhere is Wheeldale Roman Road. Or there's a short section of it anyway, the rest having been pillaged for building stone over the course of centuries.

Originally it went from Cawthorne camp to Lease Rigg (just outside Grosmont), and from there probably to the coast.

To find it is easy. Turn down the side of the station at Pickering and drive in a straight line. After about seven or eight miles you emerge onto the moors proper, and the road is just above Wheeldale Bridge. If you keep going you'll soon see Whitby in the distance, and will have discovered that there's a great way to avoid the A169 Pickering to Whitby road.

There's plenty of parking and it's a great picnic spot, so  certainly worth getting out of the car to spend a few minutes pondering this wonder of Roman Engineering. 

 

Wildlife

Slightly blurred picture of a Roe Deer near Newton-on-rawcliffe, North Yorkshire

Just how much do you want. This area is absolutely crawling with wildlife.

The forests and woods are full of deer, and you'll see them at forest clearings or cereal fields on the edges of forests at dusk. If you walk through mixed woodlands without talking too much you'll probably put some up.  Certainly seen Roe and Fallow Deer and I think Red, but it was only a fleeting glimpse so it might just be wishful thinking.

The whole area is teeming with birds, but you won't see too many Birds of Prey over the moors. Can't have them interfering with the Grouse shooting, now can we. But you can see Nightjars (in felled forest areas at dusk), Woodpeckers, Curlew, Dippers, Red Grouse and plenty more interesting stuff.

Badgers - plenty of them about. If you want to see them close up, don't miss the excellent Badger watching near Stape. Can't recommend that highly enough!

Adders - plenty about, but you're most unlikely to see one. If you do, don't disturb it, and certainly don't try and pick it up.

Cropton Forest

Keldy Cabins, Cropton Forest, North Yorkshire

The largest forest in Yorkshire, Cropton is owned by the Forestry Commission. Plenty of room for walking, mountain biking, bird watching or whatever else.

There's only a few official mountain bike trails in the forest, but there's miles and miles of forest roads to explore. It's important to remember that forests aren't covered by the Countryside & Rights of Way Act (CROW), so you don't actually have any legal right to be in the forests except on public footpaths/bridleways and permissive rights of way.

But fortunately the Forestry Commission have an open access policy in Cropton, so you can happily walk or cycle anywhere.

Remember, the Forestry Commission exists to grow trees, so don't get in the way of any commercial logging.

Campsites

camping at the White Swan, Newton-on-Rawcliffe North Yorkshire

The White Swan at Newton-on-Rawcliffe (previously mentioned)

  • Cropton - field next to the New Inn - no contact details.
  • Keldy Cabins - not camping, but cabins with outdoor hot tubs - how good is that!
  • Rawcliff Top - this campsite is a mile North of Newton-on-Rawcliffe at the Junction of the road to Cropton. Was closed for a while but reopened in 2010. Takes tourers and tents, but I don't know the contact details for it. Useful if the White Swan's booked up though.
  • Spiers House - a big Forestry Commission site deep in Cropton Forest

If you know of any more, please mention them in the comments.

Ryedale Show

Ryedale Show

I love agricultural shows - and for my money Ryedale Show is the best in Yorkshire.

The Great Yorkshire at Harrogate is the biggest, and by far the poshest,  but that comes with enormous queues, tickets at around twenty quid, a ban on dogs and a setting wonderfully enhanced by Harrogate's urban sprawl.

The Ryedale Show isn't like that at all. It's a local show for one of the very best Agricultural areas in Yorkshire. It used to move around but has now settled in a natural amphitheatre near Kirkbymoorside. And I may be wrong, but I think it's the second biggest show in Yorkshire.

Anyway, it's cheap to get in, has lots of exhibition rings and a fantastic selection of stalls and exhibitor tents.

Plenty of people bring picnics, but with so many food stalls selling great home-made food, I wouldn't bother.

The only things that let it down for me were that none of the local breweries were there. I could have murdered a pint to go with my pork pie, but the only beer tent was packed out and the beer didn't look good enough to queue for. That apart, a superb day out.

Generally held in late july, don't miss it.

Walks

Walking, North Yorkshire

Here's three to start with.

Pictures of Newtondale, Cropton, Levisham, Wheeldale, Newton-on-Rawcliffe and the rest

Comments (1)
Thank you for the information. It is very useful for a group of us visiting the White Swan in September
posted by Pete Whyte 25/06/2011 10:53:28
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