A Stroll with Stuart - Getting lost, so that you don’t have to

Lastingham
Lastingham

What a great headline, and highly appropriate for this circular walk among the gentle southern slopes of the North York Moors.

But more of that, later.

A left knee that fails to perform it’s primary function of bending in the middle, has kept me indoors for a while.

I therefore have to thank the succession of pompous and superior oafs on daytime TV for sending me hobbling out of the front door.

The BBC think people might enjoy the mock dilemma of someone scamming a free holiday in Australia while pretending they may emigrate.

After crying (with the assistance of an onion) when they see a video of granny even though they’ve only been away for three days, they end up deciding to stay in their six-bed bungalow in High Wycombe.

Or maybe we’d prefer some snobby food critic who, when confronted with a dish of duck breast on a bed of puy lentils and spinach, describes it with a snort of derision, as “the sort of thing you might knock up for supper if you don’t have much time”.

Yeah, right.

Not from my fridge you don’t.

Meanwhile, ITV has Jeremy Kyle.

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaagh!

Let me out!

Start at the pretty village of Sinnington, (served by the 128 bus with connections to Whitby at Scarborough or Pickering), head for the hills and cross the bridge over the River Seven.

Immediately turn right and follow a track alongside the river.

After half a mile or so the path heads left and starts climbing until you go through a gate on your right marked “path to Appleton”.

Follow the woodland trail with the river initially babbling away some distance below, then emerge through a gate into a field and follow the path as it curves left to a gate in the bushes ahead.

The route is now straight uphill through two gates into the village of Appleton-Le-Moors, but pause on the ascent to look back – through clouds of Red Admiral butterflies on my visit – across the fields to Ryedale.

Walk straight on through the village – which would have looked more attractive without the two million cars parked on the main road – and half a mile after the road turnoff for Cropton, take a signposted path through a field to your left.

Cross a stile 20 yards to your right in the next hedge boundary and continue heading west for five minutes until, after a small jigsaw of hedgerows, you turn right on a wide track eventually leading to the sleepy village of Spaunton.

Go right through the village and on reaching the road junction, turn left downhill to the gorgeous village of Lastingham.

If you have time, take a look at the 11th Century St Mary’s church.

The architecture, the windows and especially the crypt are fascinating whether or not you embrace religion.

And whoever you worship, I’m sure a donation wouldn’t come amiss.

Just opposite the church, is the superb Blacksmiths Arms.

Another donation here would see you rewarded with excellent real ale and food in one of the small rooms or in the lovely beer garden if you have your thermals on.

The walk back to Sinnington is prettier than the walk up, but if your lunch was too liquid, you could – like me – get so hopelessly lost that you will have to abandon ship half way through and come back the following week.

Eight miles in seven days is an average speed of 80 yards an hour.

That’s the pace of an arthritic tortoise and equates to the time required for a government minister’s brain to realise that he’s irretrievably snookered.

Don’t worry – I know where I went wrong.

Follow the road through the village, (pub on your left), and after it snakes right and then left again, head up a side-road to your right.

Curve left and uphill towards farm buildings and take a path signposted into woods on your right.

Follow this up and left to come out on the road.

Head left down the road for 200 yards, then through a gate on your left passing Oldfield pond.

Head diagonally right towards two trees, then through a metal gate to follow a field track keeping the fence on your left.

Turn right then left around the perimeter of the next field, then right along the top of an escarpment at Hagg Woods admiring the view across the valley to Cropton Banks.

Gradually descend through woods on carpets of beech nuts and pine needles – with a small feathered rug denoting a fox’s breakfast bowl – and turn right along Howldale Lane.

Follow this minor road to the right for almost a mile until, after it climbs right and up through trees, it heads off sharp right.

Instead, turn sharp left down a metalled road all the way to Appleton Mill Farm.

At the farm, go straight on through a gate (turning right requires webbed feet) and follow a path over a footbridge.

At the trees ahead, take the signposted path right to Sinnington, through a gate into the woods.

This path climbs up through the woods and reaches a crossroads of trails.

Head left and up to a path to turn right along Willey Flat Lane.

From here, it’s a mile or so back to Sinnington along a clear track, bearing left whenever you meet an alternative path.

For the record, I turned right at that crossroads in the woods, and literally and metaphorically went downhill from there.

There is an alternative route this way back to Sinnington, but I managed to end up on a 2-mile cul-de-sac to reach a river crossing which was so deep I couldn’t even see the bottom.

Like the man in Australia, I nearly cried.