So, you’ve resolved to lose some of that festive flab in the New Year? Well you could start with this lovely walk from Kildale to Castleton, taking in moor and dale and ending in the pub where you can blow that resolution apart in spectacular fashion.
It’s between eight and nine miles – depending on how much you shuffle from side to side – so the 08.50 train from Whitby gives you ample time for the walk as well as allowing a couple of hours in the Eskdale Inn for lunch, before catching the 14.51 train home. (This is also do-able from Middlesbrough by catching the 1028 train to Kildale and the 16.44 back)
Follow the road up from Kildale Station, past the gorgeous Glebe Cottage tearooms. They closed for a short time, but have reopened under new owners Alex and Kat, and remain one of the loveliest tearooms in the Esk Valley.
In fact, you could do worse than turning this page upside down and doing the whole walk in reverse so that you can end up refuelling in here. (Could take you some time if you walk backwards though).
Anyway, enough gibberish, turn left on the “main” road and after half a mile, turn right on a side road signed “Little Kildale” and follow it up the slope until it dissolves into a track.
Now listen, I forgot my Dictaphone, so can’t remember if it’s a gate or a stile, but follow the footpath sign past a farm at the top of the hill, then down a grassy slope to the prominent chimney of the long abandoned Warren Moor Mine.
This was an elaborate 19th Century enterprise designed to exploit ironstone deposits, but sadly it went quickly bust, eclipsing even the SSI Redcar Steelworks for dodgy financial planning.
Carry on to cross the beck (the infant River Leven), then up a rough track across Kildale Moor, and back down again towards Baysdale. Fifty yards before the first of three derelict buildings (with a prominent path heading away to your left) turn right, to drop down to a wall.
Follow this right, as it loops up and down, then after a long straight stretch with lovely views towards Baysdale Abbey, turn sharp left at a waymark across the wall, down a grassy slope to a footbridge.
Curl left, up to and past Low House Farm, and follow the track through trees to emerge onto Great Hograh Moor.
Ten uphill minutes later, when the track starts to bear sharply right (just as the trees in the ghyll to your left fizzle out) head left to cross the stream on a partially hidden old stone bridge.
There is a memorial bench here (dedicated to a William Simpson and a Carol Byrnes), where you can park yourself for a while and dig out some of the Christmas chocolates from the depths of your rucksack.
Those purple ones with the hazelnut inside are top dollar, and the toffee penny is right up there too. Orange and strawberry fondant centres are worth a slurp, but coffee creams need avoiding like the plague.
They are the work of the devil and are highly poisonous. Paths lead off left and right after the bridge, but in fact you need to go straight on up the slope (a good path soon becomes obvious), into exposed heather moorland. If you are doing this in January, you’ll wish you’d brought that ghastly bobble hat you got for Christmas instead of stuffing it in the back of the wardrobe with last years tartan socks.
Follow the path for two miles, crossing a minor road in the process. Presently, at a second road, go straight on again along a thin sheep-track and you’ll quickly meet a wide path coming down from your left.
That track soon drops down to meet a wall which you need to follow for some time as it snakes up and down above Lower Westerdale in general, and Dale View Farm in particular.
A sign points you steeply down a wooded slope, where you should turn left at the bottom to initially climb away from the wall, but promptly dropping down to a beckside path to finally drop onto the road adjacent to Dibble Bridge.
Turn right and drag yourself up the hill to the road junction, where you should turn left and follow the tarmac all the way down to the Eskdale Inn, which is handily situated just a minute from the railway station.
Now, if you don’t lob your muddy boots in a handy bin, my walks will appear on a monthly basis in the Whitby Gazette.
Occasionally I’ll get you lost in boggy fields, or up to your neck in bracken, but I’ll also guarantee fabulous scenery and a lovely country pub at the end.
And that sounds like a Happy New Year to me!