A gorgeous Stroll With Stu tour – but watch out for ‘the bull’

Chop Gate and Upper Bilsdale
Chop Gate and Upper Bilsdale

This seven-mile route by A Stroll With Stu, can, if you are not arthritically challenged, be joined with a stroll to Tripsdale two months ago, to form a gorgeous 14-mile tour of Upper Bilsdale.

As with The Tripsdale walk, start at the southern end of Chop Gate and turn right ahead of the fence and gate, beyond the toilet block (I take you to all the nicest places). Look out for a stile in the corner and cross it into a field alongside the beck.

The Buck Inn at Chop Gate

The Buck Inn at Chop Gate

After another stile, curl right then cross a minor road to go straight on with the field boundary on your left.

Despite a Saharan drought, you will encounter a Louisiana swamp at a gate (if you see a guy with a checked shirt strumming a banjo, do a runner), but you can skirt past it by climbing an old metal gate 10 yards up the slope.

Edge left to go through a gate after the sloppy bit, then diagonally right across the next field, heading towards another gate at the highest point of the field. Since the OS map route seems to have been erased with a bucket of green Tippex, go up to the farm then left down its access track to the road.

Turn right on the road and 500 yards later, enter Westcote Farm on your left. The path is behind and to the right of the barn ahead of you and runs alongside a B&B.

Chop Gate map

Chop Gate map

To the amusement of the guests, I was confronted by a large and menacing young bull. Well, it could have been a cow, but it sounds more macho if I big it up a little.

This pesky beast wasn’t put off by my weight advantage, nor by some rather pathetic arm waving and several bursts of what I intended to be aggressive and confident growling noises, but which came out sounding like Larry Grayson hailing a taxi.

Fortunately though, the next stile was nearby and I cleared it like a gazelle, just seconds before it was clattered into by my new friend who saw me off with a deafening “Moooooo!!!” and a jet of steam from its nose. Now don’t worry because (sadly) it will probably be seagull food by now (alternatively, carry on 500 yards down the road to a farm track on your left, rejoining me at the next hazard).

Cross the next field diagonally left, (to meet the alternative farm track) and search for a hidden gap stile in the undergrowth, 10 yards up from the field corner. Beyond this, follow the path straight on over a couple of stiles and eventually to a metalled track.

A colourful flower basket at the Buck Inn

A colourful flower basket at the Buck Inn

Go downhill and, after crossing a stream, a sign points you onto a path on your right.

This overgrown route – beautifully alive with Meadow Brown butterflies, Wrens and Swallows – leads into ever deeper bracken.

Persevere, even though Dr Livingstone would have turned round and gone back to Scotland to look for a job in an office.

Emerge through a gate onto a clearer path which brings you to Mill Lane and follow this left then uphill for a mile until you reach a farm with scrumptious views back down Raisdale (checking carefully for any signs of escaped cattle).

Cotton grass on the moors

Cotton grass on the moors

After a gate, go right to a stile, then head left uphill onto open moorland.

Near some crags on your right, a signpost invites you to deviate from the clear track onto a thin path across the moor to a gate in the distance.

The gate, marked “no motorbikes” – despite terrain that would defy the Mars Rover – separates heather from heather and you need to bear right to rejoin the track which, frankly, you may as well have stayed on in the first place.

Follow this wide track, in the general direction of the TV transmitter, noting several square yards of discarded underlay (some people will go to extraordinary lengths if their wheely-bin is full).

In mid-summer here, the moors are covered in acres of cotton grass, their flowering heads swaying in the breeze and joining up to form a giant white duvet, before being eclipsed by purple heather in August.

After a mile, just as you think I’m going to invite you to climb the transmitter and switch Big Brother off, another wide sandy track goes off to your left and another mile later, a footpath takes you further left to a stone pillar.

A view of Raisdale

A view of Raisdale

The path then begins its increasingly steep descent down to Bilsdale, alongside a plantation.

At a rock outcrop, head towards a wall below the plantation, then diagonally left across stiles, down through a gully, and finally you will go through a gate to the Chop Gate car park where you started, and on up the road to the welcoming arms of the Buck Inn.

l You can buy copies of Stu’s book Rambling On and On, from the Whitby Gazette office, for £12.99.