When we got to Broxa Forest on the North York Moors it was typically wet, gloomy and misty winter weather, so no views from the bench. So we slipped straight into a larch wood and then soon found a nice sunken track through Silpho Moor with beech and birch, heather and bilberry, and, having dropped out of the clouds, sweet views of Whisper Dales.

On my OS map, Whisper Dales are marked as a tourist attraction, I presume for the scenery. We stopped to chat to an Australian with a 'Sydney' baseball cap and a map that was priced 6s net, and we all admired the double-headed little valley, the spring-clear stream and relished the shelter and the quiet, there is no road.

After a mile or so of grassy track we reached the mouth of Whisper Dales and some dead-end Tarmac that had become a stream, and we had to use the camber to keep to the shallows. This led to a sunken path with head-high banks rich in ferns and mosses, but also a streambed.

Strengthened by sandwiches taken perched on a footbridge we sloshed on, and as the path neared Broxa Farm it became a quagmire.

We kept dry feet - just, otherwise it was very nice, and a black Labrador befriended us and despite various admonishments insisted on following.

A lane brought relief, underfoot if not canine, and then we climbed into the forest and found a track along the top edge of Lang Dale, the River Derwent's deep and wooded valley here. The track was sound, coated in needles and not much used. Oak trees are regenerating and there were intermittent views to an eternity of forest and to the eye-catching roundness of Howden Hill.

We still had the Labrador and resolved to dispatch it home whatever, which proved a great game, and we only succeeded by shouting and waving long whippy sticks.

Barns Cliff End is the right angle corner of the Derwent's valley and the escarpment that overlooks Harwood Dale and the moors.

The weather had cleared so we got an unexpected sunset and the lights of farmhouses started to switch on below us in the valley.

We had switched off a bit by then and forgot to have a look at the meteorological station, but happy, trundled the mile and a half of top-track back.


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

1. From two bridleway signs at north-western corner of car park at Reasty Bank Top, cross track to track at 11 o'clock into wood (ignore track to right signed Reasty to Allerston). Stay on track at left-hand bend, descend into Whisper Dales.

2. At fieldgate by house, leave track and continue down valley. Stream on left, crossing at gateway, stream now on right (waymark). Cross side stream, 1 o'clock, fieldgate.

3. Footbridge over stream and left to lane. Stream now follows lane. Option to use right of way alongside in fields - muddy).

4. Immediately before ford and footbridge, right uphill on sunken path (partly stream as well, signed 'No Vehicle Access').

5. At top of path, cross farm track and right to track (so hedge on right), pass farm, right to lane.

6.Track into forest for 200 yards, track on left (forest gate), 200 yards, right to valley edge track which leads, via Barns Cliff End, back to car park.

Fact file:

Distance: Six and a half miles.

Time: Three hours.

General location: North York Moors eastern area, five miles west of Scarborough.

Start: Reasty Bank car park. Grid Ref: 965 944.

Right of way: The complete route is along public rights of way and open access forest.

Date walked: Sunday, November 25, 2001.

Road route: Road north from East Ayton on the A170 for 5 miles, via Hackness and Silpho.

Car parking: Free Forest Enterprise car park.

Lavatories: None.

Refreshments: None.

Tourist and public transport information: Pickering TIC 01751 473791

Map: Based on OS Outdoor Leisure 27 eastern area.

Terrain: Forested moorland tops, escarpment and valley.

Points of interest: The Forest Enterprise forest is open access.

Difficulty: Moderate.

Dogs: Suitable.

Weather forecast: Evening Press and recorded forecast 0891 500 418.

Click here to view a map of the walk