OSMOTHERLEY is tucked off the A19 and as popular as it gets with walkers on the North York Moors.

They start a mile out of the village at Sheepwash, where there is a National Trust car park with a designated space for an ice cream van. Even on a chilly Friday, cheerful gaggles of ladies who lunch and walk in wellies were decanting from 4x4s.

We headed for the moors, on the first of miles of good tracks, climbed a bit and soon could see our target, the grouse shooters’ house standing isolated on a far horizon. Low cloud whispered across us at our 1,000 feet of altitude.

My thanks to Harry Mead for this route, it’s one of his local favourites, particularly because it “takes the walker into the heart of very lonely moorland and yet involves virtually no climbing”. I guess Mr Mead has Alpine legs because there is a bit of uphill, 400 feet, but very much worth it.

He’s right about the lonely moor. Grouse provided the only company, half a dozen at a time, zipping over the snow-speckled heather, but there is also terrific connection with the far and wide.

First up a backward look to Cod Beck Reservoir, then the first sight of Teesside on the plains. Then, after a mile when the views north are blanked by conifers, there is more of the city of chimneys juxtaposed with the Cleveland Hills, notably the sharp Roseberry Topping and the rounded Whorl Hill. A metal bench has memorial plaques to 1940s airmen.

The track passes above Scugdale. An info board reminds that the moor is open access land. Stony Ridge has the rock of the month, triangular and plastered with lichen. Grouse butts are four-star subterranean.

The day had cleared and the sea was now visible off Teesside.

We reached the shooting house, a small, plain, single room of stone. Of this, Harry Mead wrote that “on a sunny day in midwinter, with the wind from the North East, I’ve more than once sat in shirtsleeves against the wall of the shooting house”.

And so we did, though not in shirtsleeves, and enjoyed the fresh sights of Easterside and Hawnby Hill laid side by side like a pair of upturned boats. And don’t delay doing this route, don’t wait for sure sunshine, it’s a great all weather walk.

The only thing that jarred was at the shooting house where there are two stones side by side, one ancient and ring marked, the other chiselled with the words ‘Nelson Stone’. A quarry for track stone has been dug to within two yards of them, a careless undermining.

Two more miles of track brought us to the moorland road where the traffic was agricultural. Black Hambleton, dark and looming, takes up a chunk of the sky, but a slot opens to the flat lands Northallerton way.

If you decide to do this walk on a Sunday, don’t bother with trying to get along the narrow road to the car park at Sheepwash, because it will be full. Instead, start from the car park on the aptly named Square Corner, and don’t expect a cup of tea at the Chequers tearoom, it has closed.

The last leg is a stony track above the reservoir that is shielded by conifers. In evidence were a regularity of couples holding hands and such. A sculptural sign post for a cycle way is painted a vile brown.

Back at Sheepwash, a cobbled ford makes for a boot wash, though the little soil you may come across is so sandy it doesn’t stick. Many thanks for this one, Mr Mead. Directions

When in doubt look at the map. Check your position at each point.

Keep straight on unless otherwise directed.

1. From Sheepwash car parks GR SE469993, right to road and ignore footbridge and ford. Grass track on right with chain (no dogs sign), curves uphill, track turns to stone.

2. Track curves right near wood, parallel wood for one mille. Track continues, ignore a sharp right after a third of a mile.

3. Right at T-junction by shooting house for southerly track. Ignore a left after about half a mile.

4. Right to road.

5. Fork right to Tarmac (unsuitable for motors sign), becomes track, fieldgate. Left after footbridge/ford.

Fact file

Distance: Seven-and-a-half miles.

General location: North York Moors.

Start: Sheepwash, Osmotherley.

Right of way: Public and Open Access.

Dogs: Illegal.

Date walked: January 2009.

Road route: Signed off A19.

Car parking: National Trust car park.

Lavatories: Award winning in Osmotherley.

Refreshments: Osmotherley.

Tourist and public transport information: Thirsk TIC 01845 522755.

Map: Drawn from OS Explorer OL26 North York Moors western area.

Terrain: Moor.

Difficulty: Moderate.

Please observe the Country Code and park sensibly. While every effort is made to provide accurate information, walkers set out at their own risk.

York Press: Countrywalk map - Osmotherley