Between Sutton Bank and Osmotherley there is a large area of grouse moorland. The excellent tracks and wide views in all directions make for an invigorating and interesting walk. The walk sticks mainly to the edges of the moor with contrasting views in to all the differing valleys which circuit the moor.
There are two main decisions on this walk. Where to start and where to break off for a sheltered packed lunch? The large area of moorland is very exposed. The best place to start the walk is at Arden Hall, near Hawnby. However the parking is limited and the walk from the excellent pub at Hawnby adds 3 miles (an hour) to the day. The other alternative is to drive on to the Cleveland Way from the hamlet of Kepwick but this means you have a descent and subsequent climb 3/4 the way through the walk. For the packed lunch/hot drink stop I used one of the gmany grouse butts as a shelter.
The real pleasure of the walk is the differing views in all directions. From the Cleveland Way the views cross the Vale of Mowbray towards the Yorkshire Dales. On reaching the northern and north western edge of the moor the views are across the deep valleys and isolated farms of Bilsdale, Raisdale, Wheel Beck and beyond. However to the east the views are across forestry and woodland, which fill the near valleys, and Hawnby and Easterside Hills. Beyond that the endless moors drift on in to the distance.
Arden Hall is now owned by the Earl of Mexborough, an excellent looking grade 2 building dating back 300 years. The estate cottages have been converted to private residencies.
The tracks are so good it is difficult to go wrong. You are also circling the moor so if you do not have a steep slope on your left you may have taken a shooting track leading in to the centre. Using the edge is called using a ‘handrail’ in navigation parlance. These ‘handrails’ can be extremely useful aids when the cloud comes down. They not only come in the form of uniform steep ground (as here) but also rivers/streams, boundaries such as walls or fences and even tree lines.
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