Easterside Hill seemed appropriate for Easter, so we drove to the Hawnby Hills in the North York Moors National Park and pulled into the car park at Hawnby.

The Met Office had promised a heatwave. A red Ferrari F355 Spyder cruised by, as wide as a tractor on the narrow lanes, global warming with style.

We trundled off across some scrubby pasture moaning about the forecast, feeling the chill, concluding 'ner cast a clout till may is out' that is clout as in clothing and may as in the blackthorn blossom.

But the lower slopes towards Easterside Hill were warming, a climb boggy to start with through oaks old and ace and alders by a little stream. We squelched on to Easterside farm. Now the rounded hill curved as high skyline. Walkers overtook and moved up through the gorse band to the heather following the many yellow arrows of a fairly recently designated footpath. However, there is no notice that the whole of Easterside Hill is an Inland Revenue funded tax deductible Open Access Area.

So at the top we left the footpath and took a line along the length of the long narrow hill, a level half-mile at one thousand feet altitude. There are faint paths that, perhaps, gamekeepers use for accessing their grit heaps, grit that the grouse need for their digestion.

We stopped for our sandwiches near a cairn and admired a view new to us and planned the rest of the walk. The mist spoilt sightseeing, but one could see other shapely hills and, directly below, Pepper Hill. This is interesting, it's surrounded by what looks like a dyke, a ditch system.

We got off Easterside Hill, a steepish descent and then skirted Pepper Hill, walking the ditch that's part lined with club mosses. An ascent of Hawnby Hill was put off for a clearer day and, instead for some maximum spring time effect, we took a valley track. It was good just above the beck with, typically for the Hawnby estate, a number of ruined cottages including one that's reputed to have harboured a hermit monk. The valley has many fine trees, again oaks dominate, there's a conifer wood with quite a few storm felled larches and there are big silver birches at a ruin called Crow Nest.

Best of all, the air space resonated with an orchestra of bird song led by the intense, and very loud, fluting of curlews.

Near Hawnby, a pair of deer ran fast and wary through scrub. We crossed the beck, and a sheepdog demanded a cuddle at every gap in the hedge and that was that, apart from the village, a place set on a steep hill with stone lined gutters for boot washing and a tea shop at the Post Office.


When in doubt look at the map. Check your position at each point. Keep straight on unless otherwise directed.

At junction and benches, fieldgate to grassy track through fields (signed), gateway, stile/fieldgate.

Footbridge with stile over side stream, 11 o'clock uphill for 100 yards, cross tiny stream and right uphill. Stile in trees, wet path 100 yards, stile and left across field to fieldgate, cross road.

Stile/fieldgate (signed) and right, 100 yards, left at corner, uphill, stile into bracken, 10 yards, angle left on path through gorse to top (waymarks).

About 15 yards after second post on top of hill, left to one of faint paths along top of hill. Cairn near highest point. NB: In bad weather or for easier descent, follow waymark arrows straight over Easterside Hill, down to stile, left to connect with path around the hill to Direction No. 6.

At end of hill zigzag steep downhill on faint paths, aim 1 o'clock to 'pallet' gate in corner.

Left to moor-edge path (old fingerpost), keep near wall to left.

Gate, pass front of ruin to your left, 50 yards, gateway to grass track that curves right into next field, immediately left 100 yards.

Gate into wood, path stays near top edge (ignore a right fork) and then drops down, joins main track 50 yards from end of wood.

Fieldgate out of wood and stay on track, pass two ruins.

Angle across grass down to footbridge visible from track (before side stream and track uphill to farm). By fence 100 yards, 11 o'clock, fieldgate, right to road, left downhill in Hawnby.

fact file

Distance: Five miles.

Time: Three hours.

General location: Hawnby Hills, North York Moors.

Start: Hawnby.

Right of way: The route is along public rights of way and in open access area.

Date walked: Sunday, March 20, 2005.

Road route: Via Osmotherley or Helmsley.

Car parking: Village Hall car park 50 yards from Post Office, honesty box. Or roadside between village and church.

Lavatories: None.

Refreshments: The Hawnby Hotel or the Post Office/tea shop.

Tourist & public transport information: Helmsley TIC 01439 770173.

Map: Based on OS Explorer OL26 North York Moors western area.

Terrain: Hill and valley.

Points of interest: Pepper Hill is land soon to be Right To Roam despite an appeal to DEFRA to have it excluded.

Difficulty: 600ft climb, steepish descent, moderate in fine weather.

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

Click here to view a map of the walk

Updated: 12:51 Friday, March 25, 2005