Birthday walk with beautiful birds – and pub

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For the second stroll in succession, this column ends up in the pub at Danby. I will venture elsewhere next time, honest, but this walk was part of a day out on Easter Sunday with a rabble of friends, to celebrate my 60th birthday, and thus had to include the Duke of Wellington – my favourite Esk Valley Inn.

Another link to my last stroll occurred within 50 yards of the start at Castleton Station. I’d told youthat I’d never seen a Kingfisher in this country, but a vivid flash of blue caught my eye as this most

beautiful of birds flitted between the riverside bushes. Happy birthday to me.

Carry on up the road to the village to start this seven-miler along dale and rigg. Turn left, then take the second turning on the right ahead of an enclosed green. Ashfield Road becomes quiet Wandels Lane and continues for over a mile along Danby Dale to a T-junction. Go straight on over the field ahead to the church, left ahead of it and soon right through a gate down a grassy slope to another gate in the


The path drops steeply down to a footbridge, then through a field or two, to emerge over a stile back on the road along the valley. Follow this for another mile, absorbing the fabulous scenery, particularly vibrant at this time of year as the local fauna and flora puffs out its collective chest to get on with family matters after a long and cold winter.

Turn left at a tiny crossroads and climb up the hill to Botton Farm.

This is the site of the community that has been splashed all over the newspapers recently, as the people who run the show try to make significant changes to the status of the residential co-workers who care for the residents with learning difficulties and other special needs.

There has been much commentary on this in the Whitby Gazette and I don’t think I need to go into detail about the dispute in this column. I won’t sit on the fence though; I assumed it was all about money (whenever any corporate re-organisation takes place, you can usually trace it back to some bloke with a spreadsheet), but in this case it strikes me that it is really about control.

The managers, apparently unable to do radical things such as talking, motivating, setting and monitoring

standards / behaviours / processes, instead look around for an off-the-shelf solution in the form of employment and contract law.

I hope it works out for the residents who really have every right to maintain a way of life that has worked well for all concerned for many years.

Walk up past Botton Farm, right at the end of the track and left through a field towards Danby Rigg. Keep the fence on your left and go through a gate to the left of a wall. A signpost points you right and if the bracken is high, you can more easily reach the top that way.

However, we went left, but

quickly right again on a steep path that curled and climbed for what seemed like several miles to the top of the rigg.

Some people think that turning 60 means elasticated trousers, a compendium of drugs, involuntary noises when you stand up, candles costing more than the cake and a loyalty card from Greenwoods.

I am however, living proof that this is all nonsense. Don’t believe a word – all of these things happened to me when I was 49.

The rewards at the top are breathtaking views up and down dale and you can keep these in your sights by following the path back in the general direction of Danby, sticking to the track that hugs the left hand side of the ridge. (There are wider cross-paths right and left, so stay on the same level, with Danby Dale down to your left).

Overtop the hanging stone at Baker’s Nab (pop down to see if you have vertigo) and after two miles or so, a line of standing stones approaching from the right. Head for the last of these, but ignore a wide track that goes steeply down the Fellside. Instead, go straight on and soon you will see a signpost away to your right just as your path begins to fizzle out.

Make a bee-line for it, to join a well worn route dropping off the end of Ainthorpe Rigg, through a gate and down to the road. From here, it’s

straight on along the road down to the welcoming arms of Charlie in the Duke.

You’re probably keen to throw money in my direction for my 60th birthday, so just buy my book of North York Moors walks. Search Rambling On and On on Facebook for details. Ta!