Cleveland Way Part 3. Osmotherley to Clay Bank

1After 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 2we 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.3

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.

4We 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 5near 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 6so 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 7shoots 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 8someone 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 9flustered 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.

10So, 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 11sorting 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 12thump 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!

13I 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!14


Whirl around Whorlton

I suppose the best thing about working weekends is you have the chance on the week day rest days, to avoid the crowds and shoot off to the hills. Kel got a little AA box of walks in North Yorkshire for Christmas so we chose a walk around the crags where we climb in the summer, Barkers Crags near Swainby.

We parked next to the stream in Swainby and donned our boots and brand new gators, which were Christmas prezzies. We know the lovely little village quite well, the Blacksmiths is our chosen pub for a post climb pint.  The place was quite busy and there was a line of cars all the way up the road and walkers already plodding about.

Kel was trying out her new streamline day sack seeing as we weren’t going to scale any mountains. This day sack is quite unique, it consists of stuffing all her wet weather and warm kit into my day sack so I can carry it all!

So we set off heading south through the village, passed the lovely houses that line the road. As usual the air is full with, “ooooh look at that one” and “Oooh can you imagine living there!” when we pass houses way out of our price range. We reach the right hand bend and carry on straight up a track where at the top join the Cleveland Way.

  I’ve been on the Cleveland Way just a handful of times and I always find it very well kept. This was no exception; the signs look like they’re made by Pinocchio’s dad and the path is so prominent it can be seen from the moon.

We went left and walked through Clain Wood, overlooking Scugdale, the views were awesome. We also got a look at Round Hill and Barker’s Crag looking up the valley.  In the sun it was quite warm (ish) but in the woods the temperature dropped quite a bit.

There was no doubt of the route at this stage as the sign posts hit us with a fanfare saying “Cleveland Way”, we turned left into a field full of sheep and back into the sunshine. Footing became a bit dodgy and I chuckled to myself wondering when Kel’s first fall of the year would be. We re-entered the wood to cross a shallow Scugdale Beck.  Kel spotted a small weir and seeing as we decided not to bring the big camera (something else I’d have to carry) she decided to try out her ‘delayed shutter speed’ app on her iPhone.  The problem being, no tripod!  Now, as it was past lunch time, Kel’s hands would be a bit shaky. That glass of Pinot was hours away so steady hands were hours away too. Needless to say the photo was a bit hazy and we plodded on through the stream. We did notice Snowdrops starting to push their heads through the frosty soil and some buds appearing on the trees.  

We plodded up Hollin Hill towards the main road, which we’ve driven up countless times to Barker’s Crag, we crossed the T junction on another sign post pointing us onto the Cleveland Way that you would never miss. We took in the smell of the freshly cut Pine and pushed up a slight accent around the Live Moor Plantation. We then took a right through the woods onto Knolls End to start up Round Hill.  As we came out of the woods we spotted a really well kept information board regarding the hill, it’s privately owned so respect the hill!


As we rose we had to negotiate the gauntlet of Red Grouse and the view became breath taking. On our right, Roseberry Topping dominated the skyline, however, there’s a slight glitch in the panoramic pleasure, Middlesbrough and Teesport.  These are to the east coast, like dog shit on your golfing green, something you have to put up with.


There’s a big Cairn at the top which, like the Cleveland Way, is well built and I swear symmetrical.

Photos done, we drop back down the other side and re-join the plantation. At this point it’s always good to be behind Kel, the decent is always a tongue in cheek time. Boggy peat and piles of sheep droppings are always prime spots for ‘ bambi on ice’ to hit the deck.  But she kept on her feet, not without a few Jesus impressions with her arms but the slate was clean, and so was her backside.


We made it through the forest and joined a track which took us to Whorl Hill Wood. Again, wepassed houses we could never afford and a radio banging out Spandau Balllet by work women we took a left into the woods. Around the hill and it comes out at Whorl Hill Farm where you take a left up a track to a locked……..yes, locked gate!

We scaled the metal gate and made our way over the fields to another field with some bulls in, luckily I had my walking pole so any bother a cheeky poke will sort any beef related problems.

 We joined the road through Whorlton with the picturesque church on the left with loads of arches when I say loads I mean loads of arches!! That’s Kel sorted for ten minutes while I try and clean my boots. She loves arches!


We carried on down the road and Whorlton Castle was on the right on the top of the hill, just where you’d find a castle.  It’s well-kept and access is easy through the front gate.

Ok, since coming down from the hill, the Blacksmith’s has been in both our thoughts, I fancied a nice pint of the local brew, Kel however had been banging on about the home made chips we like there, so the pace sped up through the east side of Swainby towards the car. Going over the little bridge and the low flying Mallards, we walked to the car where we quick time changed our footwear and jumped in.

With thoughts of food and ale in our minds and looking like we’d slept with coat hangers in our mouths  we pulled into the pub car park……a closed pub …… we left!  Needless to say the air was blue!

Gorgeous walk with good views, I love Yorkshire!