GEORGE WILKINSON is back on his feet and makes the most of a late-winter snowfall

Snow, a rare treat, and to make the most of it, to avoid any chance of slush, we changed our plan, from the gentle hills around Coxwold to the high ground of Bransdale. Silk long johns were pulled on, chains slung in the boot and we drove to the Moorhouses parking area, 1,000 feet up on the moors.

It was a perfect day except for the wind that ripped over the flat tops. The sun blasted down from a faultless blue sky; buttoned-up and thrilled we crunched off.

For the first mile we took a loop across the moor, Beadlam Rigg glinted to the south, the land beyond dissolved in the glare. Closer by, the black drystone walls were in hard relief, and in a patch of a dozen intake fields we could see our target, Stork House, ruined but proud, across a valley.

After half an hour of dodging deep drifts we reached the slopes of the valley. They are exquisite, snow or otherwise, clad with oak trees, small but extremely old ones, wild woods perhaps.

Hodge Beck was wide and clear, our path was little more than a shape-hint helpfully picked out by animal tracks. We scanned the gaps in the trees and found the steep and direct route up the flank and arrived at Stork House, the place for a sandwich stop.

The views are magic, bang down the wall-ribbed spine of the inner dale.

At Stork House, we were on the divide between the 2,000 carefully preserved acres of National Trust land that is central Bransdale and the 22 square miles of open access area that surrounds it.

We started our return on a sunken path, then bridged the beck a second time; here it cuts through shale and, in the shelter, willows dripped yellow catkins.

Back on the tops, a flock of fieldfares had gathered in a pasture but were soon frightened off by a kestrel. Kestrels are OK, but soon one should see the merlin skimming over these moors. They were the main, and most exciting, reason (the other the golden plover) why vast tracts have been made 'Special Protection Areas'. I have heard that gamekeepers are 'protecting' these mini marauders.

The last mile and the last climb of a lovely walk were made easy by farm tracks.


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

1. From parking area right to road. At bend, track on right (footpath sign), two fieldgates/cattlegrids.

2. Just before gateway, right to grassy track (by wall on left). Fieldgate (waymark), stay up by wall on right.

3. Ladderstile, ten o'clock downhill, fieldgate, right, 50 yards, fieldgate, 10 o'clock downhill (stile, gates). Path down bank on left through trees (by signpost).

4. Footbridge over Hodge Beck, right to path which parallels river then ten o'clock uphill to wall corner.

5. Left straight uphill beside wall (waymark post), steps to stile in fence, to Stork House.

6. Into yard and right, gateway to walled path downhill, gate, 300 yards, fork right to path downhill (look for sign reading Low Lidmoor).

7. Footbridge over Hodge Beck, right to gate, uphill (by wall on

right), fieldgate and right, fieldgate,

50 yards.

8. At wire fence (ignore fieldgate on right), turn left, 150 yards, fieldgate on right (by thorn trees), 100 yards, fieldgate, through farmyard, farm track/road back to parking area.

Fact file

Distance: Three miles.

Time: Two hours.

General location: North York Moors.

Start: Moorhouses parking area GR 637947.

Right of way: The complete route is along public rights of way.

Date walked: Saturday, February 23 2002.

Road route: A170 to Kirkbymoorside. Left at mini roundabout at top of Kirkbymoorside main street, left at fork after 1 miles (signed Fadmoor). Straight up through Fadmoor. Parking area 4 miles.

Car parking: Fairly large parking area signed 'Moorhouses'. Also dead-end sign and signs for Low and High Lidmoor. Free.

Lavatories: None.

Refreshments: Pub at Fadmoor, pub at Gillamoor, pubs and cafs at Kirkbymoorside.

Tourist and public transport information: Helmsley TIC 01439 770173.

Map: Based on OS Outdoor Leisure 26 western area.

Terrain: Upland valley and moor.

Points of interest: National Trust Land.

Difficulty: Moderate.

Dogs: Suitable, but careful during bird-breeding season.

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.

Click here to view a map of the walk

Updated: 09:34 Saturday, March 02, 2002