After a wet day in the Lake District and a good drowning for the majority of the party, we were glad to have a sunny clear day for our next walk out. So, instead of hitting the A66 we set off down the A19 to continue with our next attack on the Cleveland Way, Osmotherley to Clay Bank.
The number of participants had fallen greatly for this hike in comparison to Place Fell, only the usual four suspects, Dicko, Sue, Kel and me. After the usual traffic on the A19 we crawled out of a jam just the other side of Stockton, however I had been ‘resting my eyes’ whilst Kel drove and she’d lost sight of Dicko’s Passat in the commotion and when I woke we were well on our way but no sign of our hiking buddies. My mobile rings and its Dicko enquiring where we were, stating he was on the A172 nearing our destination of Clay Bank whilst we were still blasting down the A19. We eventually caught up with the others in Stokesley and after a brief micky take in the Co-op car park we were on our way to drop our Aygo off at the view point Clay bank. At the car park we piled our kit into the Passat hampered by a thin but equally deadly layer of black ice covering the entire area.
We set off for Osmotherley in Dicko’s car and a chance for Kel to show off her new waterproof jacket to the others. She’d replaced her ‘old’ one after a good drenching on Place Fell where everyone’s waterproofs had been put to the test. My North Face jacket had stood well against the driving rain/snow on the Ullswater hill with only my over trousers failing me slightly. My poor wife had basically been soaked through to her knickers, her jacket, which did cost a few bob I might add, might as well as not have been there hence the purchase of yet another expensive piece of kit at Go Outdoors in Penrith.
We arrived in Osmotherley and struggled to park initially which was unusual for this lovely little village on a week day. We managed to squeeze into a space and began to don our kit and daysacks. Sue proudly displayed her new daysack and bragged about how much she’d managed to squeeze into it. I explained that my map pocket was bigger and congratulated Dicko on finding a daysack for his wife that was actually smaller than Kel’s.
We headed north out of the village and the sun was low and bright. After a quick left turn just as we left the built up area and headed for Chapel Wood Farm, the views were almost immediate stretching eastward. It’s hard to take photos on this walk because you’re always saying to yourself, “That’s a great view, no that is!” The path is so definite on this route and it’s very hard to stray. We headed north again towards South Wood taking the right in the fork at the start of the forest. As soon as you lose the view to the west the forest clears and the view east opens up across Hither Moor. On the left as Arncliffe Wood starts you get a wonderful view of a TV station; it sticks out like a pair of dog’s swingers and not the best view of the walk. The route comes away from the wooded area near Scarth Wood Moor then drop into Clain wood.
The sun was shining bright and the temperature was comfortable as we crossed the track that leads down into Swainby. We know this gorgeous little village quite well as it’s always were we finish off a good days climbing at Scugdale with a pint and some ‘real’ chips at the pub. If we don’t retire to the Eden Valley, then Swainby is second on our list so as you can guess we’re both counting down the next ten years. We pick up the Cleveland Way on the other side of the track and briefly head south east retracing our steps from our Whirl around Whorlton hike two years ago. After about ‘1 click’ we take a left across a field towards Swine Park and its lovely little beck and its ford and bridge then a weir. This is a gorgeous little spot that sees its fair share of Snowdrops and other wildlife, and a good place for Dicko to prove even more that his old leather Brashers are better than his fabric Salamons, dry feet!! As you leave the woods a track up to Hollin Hill is a festival of birdlife, tits (…stop it!), finches, robins, wrens and more Hedge sparrows (heggies) than you can shake a ‘Leki’ at, which all stay with you until the route crosses the back road to Scugdale and the start of a steady incline up hugging the west side of Live Moor Plantation and stunning views left over the flatlands surrounding the area. Soon the path shoots east and the start of a quick ‘thigh burner’ up though the plantation to the base of Round Hill.
Over the few years we’ve been walking and me been blogging I’ve had to put up with the barrage of jokes and quips from my old mate Dicko about my Yorkshire roots and background. I know it’s all said in good humor and I take it the way it’s meant. But from the top of Round Hill and, to be fair, the views from all the routes we’ve done in my beloved county, he cannot fault what he sees. I mean, after all, he’s from Stanley where you have to make the most of the views before someone nicks ‘em!
As I said the views from the top of Round Hill were amazing and we couldn’t have asked for a clearer day. We passed an old boy walking the other way nearing the top and again met an example of good old Yorkshire friendliness who stops and has a bit of craic. We set back off towards the summit with Dicko making the usual jokes about how nice Lancashire people are, Philistine! Round Hill, Gold Hill and Carlton Moor come and go with again cracking views and the sounds of gunfire in the distance and “Are we nearly there yet?” in the foreground from Sue. This leg of the CW was quite hilly and I think Sue had set herself up for a flattish walk and was getting a bit flustered by the ‘ups and down’s ‘ presented by this part of the route. Dicko, the loving hubby that he is likes to ensure his wife there’s only ‘another K left’ giggling as he tucks into his jelly babies….Oooh jelly babies! The drop down to Lord Stones Café appeared to cheer Sue up slightly; I even think I saw her looking for the car park. She weren’t too happy when I pointed at the view point at Cringle Moor and told her that’s our next destination.
So, with Sue like a coiled noodle we started up the short but steep accent to the gorgeous views that the top of ‘the Moor’ offers we trudged up a very soggy path. The wind greeted us with some great views as we quickly headed towards the top of Kirby Bank and some particularly nice looking crags under our feet. To the south are some lovely looking moorland again, the CW gives way to some great moorland which is one of my favourite terrains. For some reason I see it like the Falklands for which I have always thought I’d like to visit. I did have the chance in 1990/91 but decided to freeze my arse off in the Middle East instead sorting tash face Saddam out. To Sues delight Dicko and I informed her we were on the home stretch and the mood lightened, we carefully negotiated the steep descent from the top of Kirby Bank and set off taking the path between Broughton Bank and the Wainstones, a popular spot for climbers and home of ‘The Steeple and The Needle’.
The main road on Clay Bank was in ear shot and the end of this leg of the Cleveland Way in sight. There was just a small little descent down to the road where my mate Dicko decided to see how hard the floor was using his arse. I short squeal from Sue announced to the North Yorkshire moors that her hubby had come up close and personal with the earth. Everyone within a mile radius turned their head, only us fortunate ones were greeted with a grassy thump and blue air as my mate was helped to his feet by his wife. Now, you know that feeling when you know you shouldn’t laugh, but due to the amount of injuries acquired by my buddy during our adventures and the fact we’re BOTH not the best side of 40, it’s always a tongue in cheek affair on the rare occasion we become ‘one’ with the land. He got to his feet quickly and immediately and announced he was ok, thank god for that, now I can laugh!
I giggled to myself as we joined the road and turned left toward the car park and the awaiting Aygo and the sight of my limping mate you disclosed the fall had given him some grief after all to his repairing fractured ankle.
My guilt for laughing at my mate was short lived as we joked in the car on route back to Osmotherley to retrieve the dubiously parked Passat. Yet another leg of the Cleveland Way complete’ and yet another walk without event. After all, what would I blog about if it wasn’t for someone’s mishap!