STROLL WITH STU: Battling through the moorland snow


I love snow. I love looking it at floating gracefully down, I love the way it cloaks the trees and the buildings, I love the way it softens the contours and silences everything it touches and I love that muffled little “crump, crump” noise it makes under your boots.

You can maybe guess that I don’t own a car.

But I’m talking about proper snow, not that sloppy wet mush that we’ve had to put up with in recent years.

As a kid in the 1960s, snow was a regular event.

You were guaranteed several weeks of it every winter, but now it’s as rare as a bone in a Hadley’s haddock.

So, with reports of a thick and icy white duvet covering the North York Moors (rain in Redcar due to

being surrounded on all sides by chemical soup), I jumped on the train for a nice six-mile circular route

from Kildale Station.

Walk up the access road, and turn right at the Glebe Cottage Tearoom (more of which later) to head west through Kildale village.

After half a mile, turn left on a tiny road signed Baysdale Farm and Cleveland Way.

This is a long and steep climb on a road which is unlikely to have any traffic, and as you traipse up

the hillside, pause to look at the fabulous views emerging to your right and behind you towards Great Ayton and the vast expanse of the Tees Valley.

You will be puffing away like an old steam train, as this is a long and steady climb of over 500ft, but there is an excuse for a rest as the road takes a sharp turn to the right.

A plaque on an old gatepost on your left commemorates a World War 2 plane crash in which four men died in tragic circumstances.

It seems they got lost returning to RAF Leuchars after an operational flight over the North Sea in 1941, and crash landed high up on Warren Moor in stormy weather.

All four occupants, including an Australian pilot, survived the crash but died from a combination of their

injuries and exposure before rescue parties could reach them the following day.

It’s humbling stuff for you to contemplate, as you continue along the road with the source of the River Leven away to your left, eventually reaching the summit at a gate.

The snow was seriously deep now, drifting voluminously in the heather to render the footpath to Baysdale invisible. So, with an alternative in mind I left that for another, warmer, day and continued along the quiet road.

As the tarmac turns sharply left, the Cleveland Way goes straight on to skirt Battersby Moor.

Ignore both routes, and take a track ahead of the gate, curling back right towards the top of the woods

below, with Captain Cook’s Monument several miles ahead of you atop the hills on the opposite bank of the valley.

The snow had drifted deeply into this steep track too, though a single set of footprints showed that I

wasn’t the only one daft enough to be out walking in this weather.

It descends ever more steeply – I doubt a Chieftain Tank could negotiate an ascent – but after half a mile in the woods it becomes a very pleasant route called Coleston Banks, taking you a further half mile onto the road at Battersby village.

Immediately you need to take a gate on your right, then a stile into a large field.

Keep the hedge on your left to eventually turn sharp left after a stile to follow a brook on your right, before crossing it on a footbridge and going right over another stile to head for Low Farm.

One hundred yards after the farm, a stile takes you into a field which you need to cross obliquely to head

uphill to Park Farm and Kildale Camping Barn (why are these places always miles from the nearest

pub?), reached by a stile at the end of a stone wall.

Turn left then sharp right after the farm buildings to enter a field through a gate with a fingerpost.

Head diagonally uphill, through another gate then keep the next field boundary on your left, to finally cross a stile onto the road up which you climbed a couple of hours ago.

Head back through Kildale village and treat yourself to an hour or two in the Glebe Cottage tearoom.

It’s open every day except Thursday and is a gorgeous little place with lots of home-made fare, a wide variety of teas and coffee, scrumptious scones and as it is also licensed an unusual selection of beers, wines and even ouzo.

An absolute must visit to be honest, and I’ll be back in more temperate climes to do that walk to Baysdale.