Well, that was one bad day at the office. Barely a peep for five and a half years, then two letters giving me a deserved slap on the wrist after I went haywire at Hawsker.
I have some feeble mitigation, but the truth is I was wrong and the letter writers were correct. Apologies all round. So, onwards and very literally upwards for this five-mile circular from Grosmont. Winter has been a very damp squib – especially for snow lovers – but it was hanging on in there as I set off up the steep hill heading away from the level crossing.
The wind was cold and a light sprinkling of snow survived in the shady bits, but there was also some genuine warmth in the sun encouraging snowdrops and daffodils to pop up and say hello.
Turn right at the first junction and climb even more steeply along the road signposted for Goathland and Pickering. This continues skywards, bearing right at another junction (keep on the Goathland Road), until – 200 yards after a left bend – you reach a concrete track going right to Fairhead Farm.
There are other paths to your right before this, so make sure you see the prominent “Fairhead Farm” sign.
Fabulous views of the Esk Valley are available by simply stopping and turning around, and they will grow lovelier and greener in the coming months.
You are about two miles from Grosmont, but could be 100 miles from anywhere - it’s a lovely spotStuart Bell
You deserve a rest anyway, as you’ve climbed nearly 400ft by this point, so pat yourself on the back as the track takes you straight through the farmyard and continues on a more generous gradient until you reach Moor Lane Farm. After the farm buildings, the path bears left to go through a gate, then sharp right alongside the wall in a grassy field.
Go straight on as that wall drops to your right, to go through a gate onto uncultivated moorland. Sharp right downhill by the wall now until you hop over Lythe Beck at the bottom, through a wooden gate, then right and left on the clear and pretty path up to bypass Greenlands Farm on your right.
The little secluded valley of Lythe Beck is really pretty and you could be forgiven for stopping for a picnic to see the wildlife scurrying around amongst the sheep, the trees and the very epitome of the English babbling brook.
You are about two miles from Grosmont, but could be 100 miles from anywhere.
It’s a lovely spot.
Lythe beck though would struggle up the hill past Aislaby to get anywhere near its namesake village above Sandsend, so I looked up its derivation on t’internet and found that Lythe is a word of Scandinavian origin meaning “the slope”.
It’s a wonder there aren’t hundreds of them round these parts. The track beyond Greenlands Farm is clear and happily horizontal.
Follow it for 10 minutes or so as it curls almost 180 degrees around Arundel Hill, before resuming a westerly direction at an old quarry.
The quarry is along the line of the Whinstone Ridge, an igneous dyke that was the central feature the last time I troubled a Gazette reader, when I incorrectly described its origin near Great Ayton. I blamed my Geology teacher at Middlesbrough High School at the time, though it was 1972 and it is possible that I was distracted by hormones, mini-skirts and beer.
So, with the pyramid of Fylingdales radar station clearly visible on the horizon, housing dozens of men wearing serious expressions as they stare at a satellite picture of North Korea, turn right as you reach a minor road. Descend slowly until, after a left hand bend, you reach a junction taking you very sharply right (“unsuitable for motor vehicles”).
This tiny lane – a permissive path, honest – takes you quickly through Morton Close, then snakes around for two miles, past Dale End and eventually adjacent to the North York Moors Rail Workshops. The clangs and bangs drifting through the trees indicate lots of men (some retired and working harder than they ever did at British Rail) preparing for months of steamy fun on the line to Pickering.
As you near Grosmont, a prominent signpost invites you to divert right onto a path through Doctor’s Wood (the alternative is a ford through the river). Five minutes on the path in the woods will see you emerge through a gate onto the roadside where you first started a couple of hours ago.
Grosmont has at least four cafes, a decent little co-op, the excellent little Crossing Club (usually only open for a variety of real ales in the evening), an art gallery and the much improved Station Tavern. I like what they’ve done to the place – it has had more than a lick of paint – and is a lovely spot to rest the knees before catching your train home.