A Stroll with Stuart - Take a gamble on Great Fryupdale

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All of my walks are accessible by public transport, largely because I don’t own a car, but also because they usually end in a country pub where I can be found making a futile attempt to rehydrate with alcohol and salted nuts.

I also try to plan circular walks so that a) you can choose to use your own transport and b) to appease my sister who hasn’t seen the inside of a bus for 45 years. Well this time, tough. It’s a nine-mile linear walk down the length of Great Fryupdale.

You can get to the start point on Sundays by using the superb Moorsbus Network, and now that Northern trains have grudgingly admitted that winter is over, you can catch a Sunday train home from Lealholm.

Leave the M7 Moorsbus at a footpath crossroads a mile past the turn-off for Fryup on the road to Rosedale Abbey from Ralphs Cross. Head North on a distinct path through the heather. The path curves around the wonderfully named William Hill (Ladbrokes would just have been silly), providing a tenuous link for the title of this walk.

Occasionally an old stone trod emerges from the peat, but after half a mile it vanishes into a boggy area which will have you planting each footstep in a meticulous manner. As the stones reappear you can lift your head to see that a wonderful vista has crept up unnoticed – a spectacular view down the length of Great Fryupdale.

Any deluded fool suggesting that Fryupdale is somehow linked to greasy breakfasts, should be treated with compassion and generosity should you meet him along the way.

In common with the Scandinavian derivation of Lealholm, Danby, etc, Fryupdale owes it’s name to Viking invaders who, having alighted from the Moorsbus, were so impressed with the view that they named it after Freya – the Norse Goddess of beauty, love and destiny.

Drop down onto a wide crosspath and turn right. After 50 yards or so, turn left along a thin path behind a large cairn.

The path soon drops steeply and quite precipitously down to the valley floor, but before tackling it pause and take in arguably the most awesome view in the North York Moors.

The path heads North, curling left over a stream and up into bracken, before levelling out after a gate as a clear grassy track.

Half a mile later, pass through an unmarked wooden gate to the right of the main path. Bear left through the middle of the field and head left to keep a farm building on your right.

A wide track soon becomes a metalled road through Fryup Lodge and on for a mile to Applegarth Farm.

As the road turns sharp right through the farm buildings, go straight on along a wide track.

After passing through a second gate (a metal one), go almost immediately through another unmarked metal gate in the wall on your left.

You can see a footpath sign in the wall diagonally opposite, where you drop down onto a minor road and head right to the tiny Hamlet of Street.

The Dale is spectacularly beautiful, but the paths are hopelessly unmarked as if the recession had resulted in a world shortage of waymarks. Accordingly, I’m going to suggest that you now follow the road through Street and onwards for two miles to Wheat Bank Farm.

I followed a field path for a while, but a combination of tied up gates and unmarked stiles made for slow progress (and several unsavoury outbursts) on a long walk on a hot day. By all means drop down across the dale to route via Brook Side Farm if you wish (good luck with that), or take my tarmac alternative which is just as pretty and virtually traffic free. At the road junction in front of Wheat Bank Farm, turn left then quickly right down a track. After half a mile or so, fork right then quickly emerge into a field.

Drop diagonally right to the lowest part of the field and cross the River Esk on hamstring-tweaking stepping stones. Go up towards a wooden barn, then head left to the field corner, over a stile and on to the road. Turn left over the railway bridge, then 300 yards later take a stile on your right and head diagonally right.

Keep straight on through a series of stiles and gates and follow the direction of the waymarks (wahey!!) to the next stile which is always visible in the hedgerow opposite. Well, it is until you overtop High Park Farm. Just keep the fence on your right and the next stile is hidden in the corner of the field.

With the fence now on your left, drop steeply down to the woods, over a footbridge, sharp left at a stile and curve left and up to a further stile.

Head diagonally right in this field which is cruelly uphill at this stage, and with the fence on your right cross a final (honest) stile at a spaghetti junction of footpaths.

With wisps of smoke coming from my left knee, I took the path sharp right which soon curves left directly to Lealholm Station.

Cross the track through kissing gates at the end of the platform, then downhill into this vibrant village showcasing a cafe that epitomises the term “suntrap”, a lovely bakery, a popular garden centre and a lively riverside pub – The Board Inn (Superb food and ale served by busy hosts Karen and Alastair).

A band on the pub patio, kids paddling in the river, sun beating down. Fantastic.