Walking: Dream tour of the North York Moors

The gentle plod up Ingleby Incline with the Cleveland Hills in background.
The gentle plod up Ingleby Incline with the Cleveland Hills in background.
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For peace and quiet, the isolated little community of Ingleby Greenhow, lying tightly-snug beneath the towering rim of the Cleveland Escarpment, would be hard to beat.

Here, tucked away from the rigours of modern-day life, is a tranquil haven of attractive cottages with flowering gardens, ancient church of weathered stone, a pub and a 16th-century manor house approached along one of the noblest lime avenues in the county.

The church of St Andrew – from where this adventurous journey begins – is a squat, higgledy-piggledy mixture of widely-differing styles from different ages. It has its origins in the early 12th century and, despite a hefty renovation in 1741, still retains a number of early-Norman features, including its chancel arch and north arcade.

Opposite the church is the start of the half-mile-long avenue of limes leading to Ingleby Manor which was built in the first half of the 16th century by the Eure family. Parts of the main house have now been converted into self-catering apartments. The Eures were established around Ingleby Greenhow by the late 13th century – Hugh de Eure is mentioned in a land grant of 1291.

After the Dissolution of the monasteries in the 1530s, William, Lord Eure, purchased lands at Ingleby Greenhow formerly owned by the nuns of nearby Baysdale Priory and the manor house then took shape. However, in 1608, Ralph, Lord Eure, had to sell off the manor house and estate to pay off his debts. The purchaser was Sir David Foulis, a Scottish courtier who arrived in England with the Scottish King James V1 when he took the English throne as James 1.

In the mid-1800s, the estate was inherited by Lady Mary Foulis who married the 2nd Baron De Lisle and Dudley whose father, Philip Sidney, the 1st Baron, a long-serving Tory MP, had been raised to the peerage in 1835. The estate stayed with the Barons De Lisle and Dudley until 1950 and they are remembered in the name of the village pub, the Dudley Arms.

The centrepiece of this tremendous circuit is the famous Ingleby Incline, a marvel of Victorian engineering, where iron-ore wagons from Rosedale were lowered down the western edge of the Cleveland Hills by a pulley system of steel cables.

The incline is a steady uphill plod of just under a mile, straight as a die, through impressive scenery. It is never steep, but it is naggingly constant and needs to be taken at snail’s pace. Our party, after engaging crawler gear, made it over the top in just under 30 minutes.

APPROACH and PARKING: Take the B1257 north from Helmsley to the head of Bilsdale, go over the summit of Clay Bank and turn first right on the minor road signposted Ingleby Greenhow. On arriving in village at the church, park in its vicinity. If full, continue to T-junction with main road and turn left and park by roadside near the Dudley Arms. Ingleby Greenhow can be approached on faster roads by taking the A172 to Stokesley.

THE WALK

INGLEBY GREENHOW and the INCLINE

8 miles. Allow: 3 ½ – 5 hours. Map: O/S OL26 North York Moors Western area

From wherever you park at Ingleby Greenhow, make your way to St Andrew’s Church which, strangely, has no name board. Enter churchyard and pass to left of church using the lefthand of two tarred paths to spot a footbridge ahead spanning the Ingleby Beck.

Cross footbridge, go past Church Plantation and immediately turn left (box-top sign), up steps, and then continue on narrow path between wood and wire fence. This leads to a stile – cross it and carry on along edge of wood (Ingleby Plantation) with Ingleby Moor ahead and the Cleveland Hills stretching away to your right.

At end of this section, cross a stile to your front right and go over the field in line of arrow, aiming to right of red-roof building and a clump of trees. On far side of field, cross a stile and continue by wooden fence on your left, go over the access drive when level with De Lisle Cottage, to a waymarked stile ahead to left of metal gate.

Go slightly right over next field (no path) and then adjust your aim to right of red-roof house when farm buildings come into view. Ahead, to your front left, is our destination – the diagonal line of the Ingleby Incline which takes a straight line to the rim of Ingleby Moor.

Cross a stile and continue along left edge of field towards the red-roof house. Just before the garden fence, go half right across the field corner to a stile. Now follow wooden fence on your left, past house, into access drive and turn right to enter a country lane and turn left. Now look left for a fine view of Roseberry Topping and Captain Cook’s monument.

Follow the traffic-free road for half a mile, past Woods Farm, to a split in the road at a sign for Bickleygate and, here, go off LEFT (box-top sign) down the drive for High Farm House, crossing a cattle grid, and sweeping left with the access road.

Just before access road dips down hill to pass through a gate, go off right (fingerpost) over cut grass to cross a stone stile. Descend through a wood to the Ingleby Beck and follow it rightwards and then turn left over footbridge.

Cross a stile and go a quarter right up the field, past fingerpost and a marker post with wire fence and then a ditch on your right. Ignore a concrete bridge over the ditch – keep straight on up left side of ditch (arrow), soon along a grass strip between hedge and ditch.

Cross a stile and go straight ahead with wire fence on your right and then, at field end, turn left along field edge to gain a footbridge on your right. Cross it and go half left (as per arrow) over the huge field (no path) aiming for the centre of the row of houses. As you cross the field, adjust your aim to just right of the second detached house from the left.

1: On entering dirt road at houses, turn right, soon through a gate, and stride out along a forest road, the line of the old Ingleby Incline-Battersby Junction railway. At a fork, take the left branch for the slow grind up Ingleby Incline.

The Rosedale ironstone railway was built in 1861 and ran for seven miles over high moorland from Rosedale in the east to the Ingleby Incline. On its way, it passed the lonely Lion Inn on Blakey Ridge before winding its way over rugged Farndale Moor, overlooking the daffodil valley.

The problem of how to get the ore wagons down the 750ft-high Greenhow Bank was solved by cutting a 1,640-yard-long diagonal incline and installing a one-inch diameter wire rope operating from a drum house at the incline’s summit.

Once safely down, the wagons went on to Battersby Junction, three miles to the north, to join the main line to Middlesbrough where hungry furnaces awaited. The railway closed in 1929 and the drum house – and its two adjacent workers’ cottages – were then pulled down.

Go over the top of the incline, along a cutting, to spot an immediate green metal gate on your left – don’t miss it! Turn left, past side of gate, and swing right with vehicle tracks to a squared, fenced-off area on your left within a few yards and then, just past this fenced-off area, go half left along a green track to strike the Cleveland Way.

Turn left and follow this magnificent highway over Ingleby Moor enjoying outstanding views straight ahead over the Teesside plain to industrial Middlesbrough. Just ahead is the prominent Bronze Age burial mound of Burton Howe which, when excavated, revealed several cremations and pottery shards. Soon, Roseberry Topping pops into view.

Follow the edge of the moor for two miles with, to your right, wild heather uplands stretching for miles towards Castleton and Danby and comprising Baysdale Moor and Westerdale Moor. Go past a packman’s stone guide post with 1757 date and then, low down on your left, another ancient stone waymark for “Green Lane”. To your right is the brown, shapeless mass of Tidy Brown Hill which also has a burial mound on its summit.

2: On arriving at 2-sided Cleveland Way fingerpost at a green metal gate, go straight ahead along vehicle track (no fingerpost for us!). Now begins a long descent to make up for the big effort on Ingleby Incline.

Follow the broad, stony track all the way with no deviations, eventually making a huge sweep to the left on the descent of Ingleby Bank. At bottom of track, go through gate and continue down the unmade road, ignoring a box-top sign on your left. Follow the unmade road to its end, go through gate, past farm on your left and then Bank Foot on your right.

After another 120 yards, turn left at box-top sign, through open gateway and go straight ahead with tall hedge on your right. After 100 yards, turn right through the hedge line and then turn left to continue with hedge now on your left. Cross a stile at 3-sided fingerpost, turn right for a few paces to the next fingerpost and turn left along fence.

At next fingerpost, turn right, not over the stile but through the bridle gate just beyond the fingerpost. Go straight across the field, past arrow on post and bits of old fencing and then, within 50 yards, spot the fingerpost by the fence along edge of trees on your left.

Go up this fence, alongside trees, through a bridle gate and straight on and follow the obvious path all the way into Ingleby Greenhow, emerging in a street. Turn left to the main road, cross it and turn left along pavement for 100 yards and then turn left again along the road for Great Broughton to regain the church – or go straight ahead towards the Dudley Arms if you have parked near there.

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