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!