VICTORIA ELLIS temporarily takes over from George Wilkinson, who is incapacitated, and leads a walk to Cawthorne.

Cawthorne Camp on a midweek morning was busy with walkers and dog walkers and lorries delivering topsoil. In the first century you might have seen Roman soldiers digging their camp trenches, or perhaps resting, as we are on Wades Causeway, their route from Stamford Bridge to Whitby. Or maybe the Commander would have been giving orders for a march into the northern forest, a training march to keep the cohorts out of mischief, because by then the locals were fairly well behaved.

If you haven't stretched your legs much this summer this will be good training, a ten-mile trek. For a warm up, there is a length of quiet road that offers a glimpse across Ryedale and north to the moors, then we slip off the limestone escapement of Cawthorne Bank and head towards the Sutherland Lodge, an outdoor centre.

Though we mix with the trees, spend most of the miles on track through forest, the day is leavened by views.

From the northern edge of our route, on the high ground of Muffles Rigg, the moors are visible and at their purple best just now.

Ana Cross seems just across the valley. A little later you can see the largest forest mass of Dalby to the east, and, in the same direction, the cars running round the top of the Hole of Horcum. But that is miles away, and the only disturbance of the peace should be the swish of branches or the song of birds.

The air smelt of autumn, the rowans were turning and their berries red, fireweed blazed in the verges, a dragonfly zipped over a pond, and, if you're out here soon, allow quarter of an hour for a bilberry harvest.

Middle Head Road and Peat Road, both tracks, respectively parallel and cross the course of a Roman road.

After a day of gentle climbs there is the need to get back up the top of Cawthorne Bank which is done via a nice permissive path up through woods.

This brings you to a viewpoint marked on the OS map. The viewpoint has acquired a sturdy Yorkshire Wildlife Trust bench of 1988 vintage but also over the same period, a curtain of trees.

The viewless view bench was the only disappointment; a line of brutally flailed high hedge was a bit sad. Otherwise a grand day.

I have just looked up the meaning of Cawthorne and it means 'cold thorn'. The village of that name has vanished but according to Harry Mead one of the two farms that are there 'has a barn traditionally known as Bibo House' and that 'bibo' is Roman for an inn.

Which reminds me that a mile down the road at the pub in Cropton they make their own beer.

Lastly on a more sober note - just because it's fine weather and not very high ground don't forget your compass because with the regularity of four-way forest junctions it could be possible to go round in circles, or rather squares.


Distance: Ten miles.

Time: Four hours.

General location: Southern edge of North York Moors.

Start: Cawthorne Camp Car Park.

Right of way: The complete route is along public rights of way and a permissive path.

Date walked: Tuesday, September 11, 2001.

Road route: Two miles north of A170 from Wrelton or Middleton.

Car parking: Free car park.

Lavatories: None.

Refreshments: Pub at Cropton.

Tourist and public transport information: Pickering TIC 01751 473791.

Map: Based on OS OL 27 North York Moors eastern area.

Terrain: Forested moor and escarpment.

Points of interest: Route promoted at the moment by the parks Authority. Trees, birds and views. Roman Camp.

Difficulty: Moderate.

Dogs: Suitable but must be kept on leads at moment.

Weather Forecast: Evening Press and recorded forecast 0891 500 418

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. Please note: All waymarks referred to are the arrows for public rights of way, not Forestry Commission routes.

1. From car park, right to road. Ignore first right (to Keldy), take second right (signed Sutherland) at memorial bench. Tarmac turns to gently-climbing track and ignore side turns (i.e. ignore farm on corner and right to Peat Rigg).

2. Where track forks to left, carry straight on (waymark) and pass forest gate after 100 yards. Apart from an undulating stretch in felled area/young plantation, track continues to climb.

3. At 'T' junction of tracks (after passing young conifer plantation to right), straight on to narrow path through trees (waymark), 100 yards, staggered crossroads of paths - go straight on (waymark), straight on at crossroads of paths in woods.

4. Exit wood to wide dirt track, ignore public footpath on left, go straight on for 25 yards.

5. Right to path gently uphill through young plantation (waymark) which joins main dirt track - carry straight on and stay on this track around left-hand bend (waymark).

6. Forest gate and 5-way junction - take second right (signed Stape and has waymark).

7. At 'T' junction at edge of wood turn right, 100 yards, right to road. Tarmac turns to track.

8. Left to track which skirts through edge of wood.

9. Right to road.

10. Permissive path on right up through beech wood (wooden sign).

11. Right to road (signed Cropton, view bench at left-hand bend, round right-hand bend by cottage and back to car park.

Click here to view a map of the walk