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Country walk at Lastingham
GEORGE WILKINSON enjoys the heather on the moors above Lastingham.
LASTINGHAM has its nooks and crannies in memory of St Cedd. The village church looms over the pub and stands over a notable crypt.
We weren’t here for St Cedd but for the heather and, after a joke with half a dozen women walkers on the optimism of sun cream, we were on the moor, admiring a millennium stone and reading a sign that stated ‘Welcome to Spaunton Estate’. Spaunton is a nearby village. The sign also informs of the Open Access Land.
Another group of female walkers marched past, younger, on a journey, bent by enormous rucksacks. We were drawn on by the colour scheme, purple on green, heather on grass, lovely.
This mix decorated the near side of a small valley where two fresh streams meet, Grain Beck and Tranmire Beck. On the other side, the moor is refined for grouse shooting, nevertheless a pair of kestrels had the cheek to hover over the pure purple.
Jets arrived over our white sunhats, one at a time, for most of the afternoon, and they curved, not fast, not slow, with a heavy sound through the mid sky.
After a while we descended to the bracken line, along which chugged, in close formation, the party of women we had met in Lastingham. One said their husbands complained they never saw anything because they talked too much. Briefly, my navigator and I discussed a small metal information plaque on the site of an Elizabethan glass furnace. In the village of Rosedale Abbey there is modern glass making of distinction.
We stopped when about a mile from Rosedale Abbey, with valley floor fields in between. The girls with rucksacks paused and passed. A man and a woman appeared and my navigator gave them route options. They were from a ‘long way south’ which transpired as London.
After half a sandwich, we climbed. Rosedale looked fresh, scrubbed clean and green, the fields divided by stonewalls and trees, sheep gathered in some and cattle in another. Rosedale chimney bank was visible and near it ground roughened by old iron stone mining.
On the moor we found the mile upon mile of shooters’ tracks that thread the flat slope of heather. Ana Cross stood some distance away, plain and commanding. Near the cross is a cairn, the normal conical pile of stones, but added to with small memorials in various materials; one read “you’ll never walk alone”.
The last two miles are fast downhill on Lastingham Ridge, a purple blur for a mountain biker, but we had made our usual pace, stop, start and distracted.
Nevertheless, we were surprised, arrowing down into Lastingham, that the Londoners had just beaten us back; they do a lot of walking in the city. Not that this was race, more that Spaunton Moor, south facing and sunny side that it is, had been so cheerfully sociable.
We had expected the woman walking group to have arrived and gone, but no, they were there, laughing, perhaps having found the Blacksmiths Arms “congenial with their inclinations”, as an 18th-century Lastingham curate wrote.
When in doubt look at the map. Check your position at each point. Keep straight on unless otherwise directed.
1. From green, left to road, over bridge, first left (no through road), uphill.
2. Fieldgate to moor (info board), 100 yards then fork right at millennium stone with inset cross (fingerpost Hartoft), track, ignore a left then a right fork, across grass, pass field/enclosure to your left.
3. At silver birch tree 100 yards above streams, check paths other side, you do not want the one angling to the left or the line that goes very straight up. Ford stream/stepping stones, straight up bank to path, 200 yards, pass post.
4. Cross track to path (waymark post), crest hill.
5. At path crossroads (waymark post), left to good path, not thin path straight down into bracken. Contour on valley side.
6. Stay on main path (waymark post).
7. About 150 yards before farm, double back left uphill on path (access land sign) 300 yards.
8. Straight on at junction, 300 yards, ignore lesser path on left, 400 yards.
9. At paths ‘Y’ junction in heather, fork left, 200 yards, pass quarry to your right, 50 yards.
10. Right to main stone track, slightly uphill, 500 yards, straight on at tracks crossroads, 500 yards, path on left, 50 yards to Ana Cross.
11. Left and south at cross to track, pass ‘memorial’ cairn on left after 50 yards, downhill, third of a mile.
12. Right to track. Join outward route.
Distance: Seven miles.
General location: North York Moors.
Right of way: Public paths and Open Access Land.
Date walked: August 2012.
Road route: Via Hutton-le-Hole.
Car parking: Roadside in Lastingham.
Refreshments: The Blacksmiths Arms and the Lastingham Grange Hotel, Lastingham.
Tourist and public transport information: Pickering TIC 01751 473791.
Map: Drawn from OS Explorers OL26 and 27 North York Moors.
Terrain: Mostly moor.
Please observe the Country Code and park sensibly. While every effort is made to provide accurate information, walkers set out at their own risk.