8:40am Saturday 13th February 2010
By George Wilkinson
KILDALE, both the valley and the village, are well enclosed by the Cleveland Hills and all was drizzle and mists, with rubbed out skylines and blunted conifers. So, first things first, the admirable Glebe Cottage Tea Rooms are open from 11.30am till 4.30pm all week, bar Thursday.
And second, the best parking option is at the minimalist railway station where there are nice loos, a picnic table, a shelter and St Cuthbert’s across the tracks. All that was missing was a ray of sunshine.
All set. The Middlesbrough to Whitby train pulled out for the seaside. We headed inland, for a very top spot and soon located an information board that read “Kildale Estate concessionary path only. No Bikes/No Horses”. And what a path, a delightful and exciting mile along the River Leven, through the woods of its steep shale ravine, the water fresh from the ground but by no means insignificant.
Two thirds along, there was a crashing waterfall to rival the Leven’s in Great Ayton.
A bit further on, the vertical shale is draped with tongue ferns, in vivid wintergreen, unblemished by the season and the best show of colour all day. Apparently, the bluebells and so forth are good, too.
I hadn’t quite counted the route’s contours, because when we left the Leven and came to climb it was surprisingly steep, 600 feet in half a mile, which is an average of 1 in 4. So if you have developed a habit for long johns, you will probably be stripping them off.
We reached a patch of heather and bilberry and saw one grouse. We found snow drifts in likely and unlikely places and they were of coarse-granulated, month-old ice that, lightly compressed, made snowballs that spectacularly fragmented on impact. Of other frivolities, there was a hatch of flies in an old sandstone quarry.
All the uphill paths lead to Captain Cook’s Monument and you home in visually. At an altitude of 1,063 feet, there it was, another 50 feet of stone obelisk. What weren’t there were the views, restricted to a couple of miles across the Stokesley Plain. A lunchtime runner zoomed in, touched the railings of the obelisk and zoomed off.
There is a glowing tribute to the great navigator on the monument, but you won’t need his skills because the way down, on the Cleveland Way, is another lovely mile of woods, part larch and part broadleaf.
Then the steep bit comes with asphalt, a loop road so quiet that you’ll probably only see a National Park or a forestry or farm machine, or a red post office van trying to turn a penny.
Distance: Five miles.
General location: North York Moors.
Right of way: Public, concessionary and open access.
Date walked: February, 2010.
Road route: Via Stokesley.
Car parking: Either railway station car park or verge at top of village on the main road just beyond village hall.
Lavatories: Railway station.
Refreshments: Glebe Cottage Tearoom.
Tourist and public transport information: Great Ayton TIC 01642 722835.
Map: Drawn from OS Explorer OL26 North York Moors western.
Difficulty: Stiff climb.
Please observe the Country Code and park sensibly. While every effort is made to provide accurate information, walkers set out at their own risk.
When in doubt look at the map. Check your position at each point.
Keep straight on unless otherwise directed.
1. From railway station car park, left to road, left at tea rooms, under railway line, over river.
2. At bend and wood corner, track on left to stile/fieldgate (Kildale Estate Concessionary path), through wood.
3. Track on right (fingerpost Concessionary path), steep uphill. Wooden railings and sign, uphill by wall 150 yards.
4. Left through gateway and immediately right to path, climbing steeply through moor.
5. There are various paths uphill to the monument. After about 300 yards, we took a path on the left by small tree and the monument was in view after five yards, then forked right uphill to narrow path that curves round and up through quarries, note steep drops.
6. Right at monument to paved path, 200 yards, gateway, paved steps downhill, woodland path.
7. At fencing gap right fork (fingerpost Cleveland Way).
8. Right to main track uphill and right to road down to Kildale.
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