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Wheeldale Moor, Goathland and Mallyan Spout - a circular walk across the North York Moors

Route Summary
Distance: About 8 miles (11k)
Difficulty: moderate in good weather
Start: Wheeldale Bridge (SE 803 972)
Finish: Wheeldale Bridge
Time: about four hours
Dogs: not bad - some parts sheep free

Wheeldale Bridge This is a lovely walk across one of the most beautiful parts of the North York Moors, with an optional extension to take in Goathland (aka Adensfield).

The start point for this walk is Wheeldale Bridge. To get there from Pickering, turn up the side of the railway station, and drive in a straight line through Newton-on-Rawcliffe and Stape. Wheeldale Bridge is at the bottom of a gradual hill where Cropton Forest ends and the moors start. There's also an information board telling you it's Wheeldale Bridge, so that makes it hard to miss. And there's tons of free parking all around. If you're coming from the North, use a map as it's easy to get on the wrong road.

From the bridge head North up the road for a very short way, and there's a signpost and information board, indicating a footpath going off to the right. As the information board so kindly points out, this is Wheeldale Roman Road (Wade's Causeway), which I always thought used to run from Cawthorn Camp to the coast. But according to the board, nobody's sure where it goes or if it was even Roman.

Wheeldale Roman Road, North Yorkshire Personally I'd have thought it was a no-brainer. You have a massive military camp at Cawthorn, a network of coastal watchtowers to defend and a road trending towards the coast. Wikipedia reckons it might have ended at Dunsley near Sandsend, which would make an awful lot of sense.

No doubt the archaeologists will make their minds up one day.

Anyhow, most of the road has gone nowadays, so this is the only visible stretch left. In most cases, a Roman Road is just a stright line on a map, but here you can actually see part of the road exposed, and the information board is a real help in understanding the construction.

It's the width of the road that impresses me. It must have been one hell of an engineering feat to construct it in this terrain.

Moving on, follow the course of the road and the footpath for about a thousand yards, and look out fot a footpath to the left. The footpath leads down the hillside through the crags to the stepping stones over Wheeldale Beck.

Wheeldale Beck - Stepping Stones Wheeldale Lodge Former Youth Hostel

Old Kit Bield Just over the stepping stones is Wheeldale Lodge, a former Youth Hostel. I stayed there  a couple of times in the 70's and 80's, but sadly the YHA flogged it off a few years ago in line with their policy of concentrating on school groups and car borne travellers.

Nowadays Wheeldale Lodge is owned by the Duchy of Cornwall as part of their shoot. And very nice they keep the moors too.

But if Chuck or Camilla ever read this, perhaps they'd care to explain why I didn't see a single bird of prey on this walk. Not saying it's down to them of course, but as major local landowner they should be taking the lead in sorting this out.

Garden at the Mallyan Spout Hotel Continuing up the hill, where the road bends at Hunt House, take the footpath to the right, that follows the contours of the moor round to bring you out above the Mallyan Spout Hotel. The path can be quite difficulto follow, and it's easy to end up on the wrong side of "Old Kit Bield" (a small pond), where a parallel path also brings you to the mallyan Spout Hotel.

I like The Mallyan Spout, it's a wonderful old Victorian country house hotel, which serves very good beer and has a lovely traditional English garden to sit out in. The food looks good too.

From here, take the path down the side of the hotel to visit Mallyan Spout Waterfall. This is a 70ft high fall in a leafy dell, but it's a very steep down and a very steep up again - so difficult for the less agile. The path back from the waterfall brings you out on the road just above the hotel.

You can then either head back on the return leg of the walk, or wander down the road into Goathland. The way into Goathland is straight down the rod - signposted from the junction. It used to be a really nice little village, but since 1992 it's been Aidensfield in the Heartbeat TV series. Nowadays the shops cash in by calling themselves Aidensfield this and that, and during the Summer months the place is full of coach trippers. The North York Moors Railway brings a fair few visitors too, so the place gets quite busy. Strangely, few of the trippers seem to venture outside the main part of the village, so Mallyan Spout remains fairly quiet and peaceful.

Mallyan Spout Waterfall West Beck near Mallyan Spout

Standing Stones at Simon Howe, Wheeldale The return leg of the walk, starts by going back up the hill, but then taking the path to the left of "Old Kit Bield" .

This leads right aross the middle of Wheeldale Moor, with fantastic views in all directions, including of RAF Fylingdales Ballistic Missile Early Warning Station. Nowadays it's a pyramid structure, but used to be three "golf balls", like the ones they still have at RAF Menwith Hill, near Harrogate.

Why we bother with the nicety of calling these places "RAF", when they're not I don't know. They are foreign military bases and we shouldn't pretend otherwise.

The path continues acrodd the top the moor to Simon Howe, where there's some interesting standing stones. From there the path heads across the moor and downhill to Cropton forest. Again it's easy to lose the path here, but there's several sheep tracks down the moor, and they all lead to the "cutout" in Cropton Forest.

Track through Cropton Forest

However you get across the moor, and it's access land anyway so it doesn't matter, the footpath reaches a clearing at the edge of Cropton Forest, and the path is well signposted.

Folow the footpath through the clearing and you'll hit a wide forest road running East to West. Turn right and follow the road heading West. Don't worry about rights of way, the Forestry Commission have an open access policy here so you can go wherever you like. And in just over a mile you hit the road opposite Wheeldale Bridge, back where we started.

If you have time on the way home, both the New Inn at Cropton and the White Swan at Newton-on-Rawcliffe serve excellent food and beer.

Pictures of Wheeldale and Mallyan Spout

Comments (1)
I echo the Author's thoughts on the scandalous 100% cull of birds of prey in this National Park, all for the grouse shooting industry's sake. This year in tramps all over Newtondale I have seen three buzzards, possibly two individuals, which have not been seen on subsequent trips but plenty of corpses rotting where they fell off their final, unfamiliar perch. Sparrowhawks too. It's the same wherever grouse are farmed, of which there are many thousands. I've seen wire snares out also, in the private woodlands of the region. Perhaps the landowners should be liable for the offences rather than their gamekeepers - they're only acting under tacit instructions. Wheeldale - Mallyan Spout walk description has the reader looking for a path left from the Roman Road - should be Right. Otherwise spot on. Oh, and it's much easier access to the Spout from the moors end, upstream.
posted by Phil T 28/09/2011 03:02:39
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