Walking: A high-level route beyond compare

Along the Cleveland Way near High Barn.
Along the Cleveland Way near High Barn.
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What a stunning day out!

The North York Moors National Park is the only part of our county that runs the Yorkshire Dales close when it comes to grandeur of scenery, viewpoints and all-round ambience. Don’t miss this trip – the high-level cruise along the Hambleton Escarpment utilising the Cleveland Way is almost beyond parallel.

Boltby is one of the most attractive villages in the national park, a lovely, tranquil community of weathered stone cottages nestling below the dramatic outline of the Hambleton Escarpment. It can trace its history back to the Danish invaders who sailed up the Ouse in 867AD to capture York and then put down their roots throughout the region.

The Normans, two centuries later, recorded the village as Boltebi in Domesday Book of 1086. At that time, the Scandinavian lord, Sumarlithi, son of Karli, was dispossessed in favour of a powerful Norman baron, Hugh FitzBaldric, Sheriff of Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire, who placed the property in the hands of one of his followers, Girard, who took the surname de Boltby.

In the mid-13th century, Nicholas de Boltby, a veteran of the Welsh and Scottish wars, held the manor. Later in the same century, the heiress Eva de Boltby married the first of her three husbands, John de Walkyngham (died 1284) .

Eva married, secondly, Richard Knut of nearby Kepwick and, thirdly, William de Cantilupe (died 1309), Lord of the Manor of neighbouring Ravensthorpe. Fine effigies of Eva and her first husband are to be found at the 12th-century church at nearby Felixkirk.

The old Ravensthorpe manor house was replaced in the 18th century by a new house on a site half a mile west of Boltby. It was the home of the Walker family, wealthy iron masters of Sheffield, who cast the cannons used by Nelson’s navy in the Napoleonic wars.

Boltby flourished in the 19th century on a cottage industry of linen weaving and also stone quarrying which was carried out at Boltby Scar which we pass on this route on the rim of the Hambleton Escarpment.



6 ½ miles: Allow 3 – 4 hours. Map: O/S OL 26 North York Moors Western area

Park in the main street at Boltby in the vicinity of the church. Set out along the main street in an easterly direction – away from Thirsk – past a tiny stone bridge on your right and go up the slope beyond for a few yards and then turn first right (farmhouse B & B sign) along a “No through road” past Town Pasture Farm.

Follow this minor lane to leave the village, go past a gate on your right (Lavender Ridge sign) and then, as road sweeps left, turn right through a metal stile attached to a metal gate.

Go along right edge of field with Boltby Scar and the Hambleton Escarpment up to your left. After about 150 yards, go through a wide gap into next field to continue with hedge now on your left. Cross the stile ahead and go straight across middle of next field to root out a stile and footbridge hidden in trees on far side of field.

Cross the footbridge and turn right along a vegetated path to a stile, cross it, go forward a few yards only into a wood and then turn left to a gate, fingerpost and stile. Press on along right edge of next field to arrive in a vehicle track with fence ahead and turn left along tracks, soon sweeping right up the slope towards the barns at Greendale.

On entering tarred farm drive, turn left and follow the tarmac to a gate. Go through and immediately leave the concrete apron to go half left for a few yards, over the grass, to a waymarked gate. Now go straight ahead, past a circular feeder, to a 3-sided fingerpost and gate.

Pass through and go straight ahead, passing to left of a fallen tree. Go past a marker post and straight ahead, linking up with wall on your right, to a stile and arrow ahead. Descend through ferns and then negotiate the semi-overgrown path to arrive at a fork – take the left branch to an immediate fork and take the left branch again, turning left up slope.

The path is overgrown but always opens up before you through the vegetation. Eventually, you will pass an arrow and then a second one to arrive at another fork. The left branch leads to a post with “No right of way” sign, so take the right fork to continue through ferns on a path which always opens up before you.

Go past marker at fence corner and follow fence on your right. When it finishes, go straight on along a better path which soon reverts to a semi jungle – plough on through the high vegetation to eventually arrive at a stile. Go through the narrow belt of trees into a field – bliss!

Go straight across field, passing an old fence post, to gain hedge corner and continue with fence/hedge on your right. Go through kissing gate and onward to arrive – soon – at a tall wooden fence guarding the grounds of Southwood Hall. Turn left over stile and then turn right along fence.

At end of fence, go through kissing gate and turn right for 50 yards or so to a gate on your right with blue arrows – ignore it! Instead, go a quarter left for 20 paces to a marker with twin blue arrows and turn left up the field for the steady plod up to the Hambleton Escarpment.

1: Go past a marker post, then through a gate (tied open, on our visit), then go up the steeper slope ahead for a few yards and then bear half left up the field alongside the bushes and vegetation. Bear left round the top of the vegetation – spot the blue arrow to your left – and continue on a diagonal line aiming for a fallen tree in distance.

Go past the fallen tree and a marker post and onward and upward to a gate giving access to South Woods. Walk up through the trees on a strong path to emerge in a forest vehicle track at twin blue arrows – ignore them!

Turn right for 25 paces and then turn left on a diagonal path through trees. On arriving at fork with marker post with several arrows and signs, turn right (yellow arrow) into the vegetation, soon passing a wall end, and then sweeping left on the final leg up to the rim of the escarpment.

On emerging from trees in a stout path (Cleveland Way), turn left at the start of a magnificent journey along the Hambleton Escarpment. On arriving at 3-sided fingerpost, take right branch for Cleveland Way.

The next two miles are simply stunning; this is one of the best footpaths in Yorkshire with incredible views leftwards over the Vale of Mowbray to the distant hills of the Yorkshire Dales. You can make out the flat summit of Addlebrough in Wensleydale to your front left.

Stride out in the most delightful fashion passing, eventually, a 3-sided fingerpost - keep on for Sneck Yate with Boltby Quarry to your left. Go past lonely High Barn, past a 3-sided fingerpost and keep on along the Cleveland Way.

2: On arriving at a gate across the track, go through and then pass to the left of a “Caution road ahead” sign to arrive in the road at Sneck Yate Bank – cross it to enter Boltby Forest and continue along a broad path (Cleveland Way).

Exit wood and continue on a gravel path to emerge in a minor lane and turn left downhill. Go past a bungalow and sweep left for 150 yards or so to arrive at fingerpost on your left and an access road on your right – turn right (sign: Five Acres).

On arriving at the first property at a fork – this is Low Paradise - take the left branch into premises past a “Footpath only” sign on gatepost (ignore track to Five Acres). Go past house on a gravel path to a stile in the leylandii hedge ahead. Cross it and turn left along enclosed path to enter field through a gate (ignore stile on left).

Drop down the field by fence, go through gate and descend to a wood, cross a stone footbridge and turn left along sketchy vehicle tracks which eventually turn right up to a gate. Pass through to arrive in a forest road, cross it to a fingerpost for Boltby and go up a diagonal rake.

At top of rake, go through gate and straight ahead to a marker post and continue up left side of wire fence. Soon, ignore gate on your right – go straight on over an area of cropped grass and onward along right edge of field which falls away to your left. Hesketh Hall pops into view. Descend to a marker post with twin arrows on your right – don’t overshoot! - and, here, go off right through the ferns to arrive at a gate (stile to its left).

Pass through and go straight ahead, avoiding any inclination to slip off leftwards down the slope. This contouring path is sketchy, but always visible. The path eventually links up with a wall on your left above a water treatment plant.

Continue to a gate and stile and turn left down the access road to join the Boltby road and turn right into the village, stopping off at the village hall to make yourself a tea or coffee (small donation). Regain your vehicle.