Thursday 28th February 2002

Weather: Sunny most of the day, ending wet & stormy. . .


Today's Walk: The Esk Valley Walk - Stage 3

Glaisdale - Sleights - Ruswarp - Whitby ( 10 miles )



We begin Stage 3 of the Esk Valley Walk near the railway station at Glaisdale (Grid Ref. 783 055)

The sandstone cottages of Glaisdale village are scattered across a wide area on the eastern edge of Glaisdale Moor.
The now tranquil setting of the village would have been in complete contrast during the ironstone mining boom
of the 1800's - although mining in these parts ceased in 1876, numerous signs of a bygone industry still remain.

The beautiful valley of Glaisdale is slightly off our route to the south-west, but if you have time it is well worth a visit.

Glaisdale Railway Station opened in 1865 and was originally called Beggar's Bridge Station...

 

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...the reason for this soon becomes obvious as we descend the road towards the Esk, where soon comes into view,
just beyond the arches of the railway bridge, an ancient and historic river crossing - Beggar's Bridge

"Beggar's Bridge is commemorative of a certain Thomas Ferries of Hull. Ferries was a sailor and lived his youth in the
neighbourhood, and tradition has it that in crossing the river by stepping stones (in the process of visiting his sweetheart)
he fell in and nearly drowned. He vowed there and then that should he ever have the means, he would build a bridge at the spot.
Though the date 1619 is engraved high upon its east side, together with the initials T.F., it is probable that the bridge was
originally built somewhere about the general period which saw the erection of the three Danby Bow-bridges (14th century)
and that, having become ruinous, it was rebuilt by Alderman Ferries at the time indicated by the existing date.
You may prefer the romantic notion!"

(From Round and About The North Yorkshire Moors by Tom Scott Burns)

 

After spending time admiring the old bridge, retrace your steps a few yards back under the railway bridge
and look for a small wooden footbridge crossing a fast-flowing beck. Go over the bridge and follow the path
steeply up to the left and into East Arnecliffe Woods - soon the path dips to the side of the river.

It is here that I always think the River Esk looks its most serene and peaceful, as it meanders between
steep wooded slopes on both sides, the trees reflecting in the calm waters if the weather is kind...

 

...as, thankfully, it was early today.

 

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The path continues through the ancient woodland, much of it being an excellently exposed example of a stone trod.
These 'trods', or 'pannier ways', are very common on the North York Moors and date from the late 16th century onwards.
They were laid to facilitate the movement on boggy ground of teams of ponies laden with goods and heading for the markets.
Monks also laid these stones on exposed routes across moorland between abbeys and villages - the stones are often
'hollowed' out through centuries of wear, and on turning them, are usually the same on the other side!

It's delightful walking these woods in fine weather as the sun's rays find a way through the branches of tall trees.
All around there is constant evidence of past industries, both quarrying and ironstone mining.

 

At the far end of the wood we emerge onto a steep road at 'Delves' meaning ancients pits.

Here we turn left and head downhill, admiring the view across the Esk Valley towards Egton Bridge.

 

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On reaching the signpost near the Horseshoe Inn we have a choice of river crossings - you can continue along
the road and cross via the stone road bridge, rebuilt in 1992 replacing an ugly steel affair which was built after
the original bridge was washed away by floods in the 1930's...or you can cross via two sets of stepping stones,
much more exciting, but only possible when the river is low

 

Here we look downstream from the 'island' between the two sets of stepping stones
- if you've crossed by this method you need to turn right at the other side near the old mill and follow the
road past some large, imposing houses, until it meets another road at a junction (Grid Ref. 804 052).

This is where you'd end up either way - just across the road from the junction is a sign saying
'Private Road - No Motor Vehicles - Walkers, Pedal Cyles and Horse Riders only'
- that includes us so we follow the wide track which, in fact, is an old toll road (now a permissive path)

 

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It passes Egton Manor to the right, who's gardens are awash with colourful rhododendrons in May and June.

Further along we pass the old toll house with a list of toll charges dated August 1948 on the side of the cottage

 

Its worth glancing across to the River Esk at various points along this track for we soon leave it,
not to see it again for another two or three miles.

At the end of the toll road we reach the road leading down from Egton to Grosmont - if you have time I recommend
you visit the village of Grosmont, famous for its railway station where the whistles and hiss of steam trains
can be heard for miles around - here is the northern end of the
North Yorkshire Moors Railway,
and the start of a wonderful, scenic 18 mile railway journey to Pickering.

Unfortunately, today we don't have time so we turn left onto the road then almost immediately right along
a minor road which leads to the left of a small housing estate. Where the road turns sharp left, we carry
straight on along a farm access track...

 

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...soon reaching Grosmont Farm with its charming little duckpond and what I can only describe as a row of calf kennels!

From here the track goes gently uphill into a wood, where you will walk upon another excellent pannier trod.

 

On emerging from the wood, the path leads us across a couple of fields and then onto another access track
leading to Newbiggin Hall Farm (Grid Ref. 840 068)

 

It's pleasant walking here, although the fields can be very wet underfoot after rain
- we just keep heading roughly north-east, following the signs and field paths...

 

...enjoying lovely views south across the Esk Valley towards Sleights Moor...

 

...and then, a bit further on ahead, towards Sleights village itself which we reach near the roadbridge
which crosses the river (Grid Ref. 867 082)

 

Instead of following the road over the bridge we cross straight over and head along a minor road to Ruswarp
- in summer this road can get fairly busy but there is no alternative route - just plod on for a mile or so...

 

...enjoying the views downstream as the road runs close by the edge of the Esk.

During the holiday season you will see many a boat being rowed along this particular stretch...

 

...but today the rowing boats were 'moored' on the other side of the road being prepared for the months ahead

 

On reaching a road junction at Ruswarp we turn left for a hundred yards or so before following
the directions of a footpath sign to the right along a narrow, stoned path between houses.

The weather forecasters had got it right - sunshine then rain, well...sleet it was, as we look back to Ruswarp.

We follow the paved path, then climb some steps - where the track forks, we bear right, cross the
railway cutting, then continue across the school field before reaching the A171 near the road bridge

 

With the weather still damp, it's from here that we get our first good view of Whitby Harbour
- the River Esk is now only a few hundred yards from the North Sea.

Climb the steps just near the bridge then go down the steep slope and head towards the railway line
- there's a small crossing place which takes you to the car and boat parks

 

Walk alongside the harbour towards the swing-bridge - I can't recall seeing the tide as high as today
- it was only inches below the top of the harbour wall

 

A few hundred yards further and we're almost at journey's end - I suppose if you want to you can walk
all the way to the end of the twin piers...

 

...but with today's high water we weren't tempted at all - and neither was anyone else!

(This is normally the slipway down to the beach!)

 

So here we are, 25 miles downstream from that little trickle of water which began high up on Westerdale Moor.

The River Esk is a lovely stretch of water, flowing through some of the most picturesque countryside imagineable
- from high on that mighty moor it widens, then meanders along the valley it's created, through some of the prettiest
villages in the land, before ending its journey at that most wonderful of places - Whitby.

Captain Cook stands looking out to where the Esk meets the sea - I think he's a lucky man, he sees it every day...


location map

Stage 1: Blakey Ridge - Esklets - Westerdale - Castleton

Stage 2: Castleton - Danby - Lealholm - Glaisdale


( If any photographs fail to download, click the right mouse button on the blank space then choose 'Show Picture' )

 

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