IF you are wary of taking half of the moors home in the form of mud on your boots, this easy five-mile stroll around Little Fryupdale might just be for you.
I started by enjoying a pot of tea with a succulent piece of lemon and ginger cheesecake in the Woolly Sheep cafe at the Moors National Park Centre, Danby. While hand-feeding a few biscuit crumbs to a chaffinch and a thrush on an outside table, my attention was caught by an article in my newspaper, stating that the world’s mega-rich have apparently stashed £13trillion away in savings.
That’s a lot of ISAs, or an extremely large pig. In fact, if they spent the lot on my new book “Rambling on ... and on”, and spent a little of their measly existence idly standing them end on end, they’d be able to build 41 separate towers all stretching to the moon and still have enough left over to fill a couple of wardrobes.
Years ago, rich businessmen – Titus Salt for example – would enjoy their wealth, but also re-invest in new business ventures and decent facilities for their staff. It’s the very core of Capitalism’s “trickle down” effect.
Now though, the faceless billionaires might buy a yacht, a football team and several mistresses, but then lock the rest away in a spreadsheet. It’s like discovering a new plant that drips real ale from its leaves, produces limitless quantities of roast beef and Yorkshire pudding and a cure for all known diseases, then locking all the seeds away in a private shed.
Wealth has not only trickled up, it has been removed completely from society and locked away more or less forever, making the whole world a significantly poorer place.
With my blood rapidly boiling away, I set off across the grass and past the play area of the Visitor Centre on my left to cross a footbridge on the Esk.
Follow the path South as it crosses the railway, noting Network Rail’s wonderful new £½million (and the rest) bridge on your right, then through a gate to turn right on the road.
Drop down past Kadelands House, then at the top of the upslope head left on a gravel track.
At the end of the field, ignore a path heading left through a gate and instead head right alongside the fence.
Soon you climb a stile where you take the path left by a dead tree. Edge away from the fence on your left to cross a stile, then head up to another ladder stile to the left of Low Coombs Farm (the waymark on that last stile points further right and is a smidge skewiff).
The route now is effectively a straight line uphill.
Pass the farm on your right, then you’ll cross the farm track twice and then a minor road where you meet the moors on Danby Rigg.
Your wide track soon bears left, but you need to take a slightly narrower path straight on uphill. This meets another path coming up from Ainthorpe down to your right, and leads to a wooden gate.
Go through the gate and plod on uphill on a clear and eroded track up to the top of the rigg.
There are superb views behind you, but unless you’ve had a 360º swivel head installed, you’ll need to wait until you top the rigg for the equally impressive view of Little Fryupdale to quickly burst on the scene. Frankly, it’s gorgeous and well worth the uphill slog.
Pause a while, then carry straight on down a path leading diagonally down to the valley. Emerge at a road junction and take the road straight on across the dale.
Pass Stonebeck Gate Cottage then, after its namesake farm, turn left down a wide track and follow it for a mile or so.
Along here, the local animal population seemed to be having their own Olympics. two stoats were involved in Greco-Roman wrestling, a couple of hawks were taking part in the heats of an aerial head-pecking competition, a cow was clearly a gold medallist at staring out passing walkers, and I won a 100-yard-sprint against another cow which frankly should feel ashamed of its performance.
As the path goes left to Forester’s Lodge, head straight on through a gate. Now you just stay on the same level with the fence/wall always on your left for another mile, passing through a number of gates.
Eventually you begin to enter thin woodland and as this and the mass of foxgloves thicken, the path curves right until Crag Farm appears in the distance through the trees.
A wooden post sporting a fabulous collection of waymarks, signals where you need to turn sharp left through a couple of gates on to the farm track.
This leads over the river and down to the road where you should turn left and follow it for three-quarters of a mile back to the Visitor Centre.
Another scrummy slice of cake may well be in order – you have my permission – or for a lovely concoction made of malt and hops, carry on down the road to the Duke of Wellington.