George Wilkinson goes in and out of cloud as he walks on Thimbleby Moor above Osmotherley

WE sat in the car on Thimbleby Moor above Osmotherley as the rain lashed the windscreen. Cloud at one thousand foot smeared out the top of Black Hambleton, the nearest hill. An outing of vintage Rolls Royces breathed past on the moorland road, a few tough mountain bikers assembled their cold metal, a National Park warden lurked around the car park, we drank tea.

The squalls abated and visibility improved, the valley funnelling down to Osmotherley cleared of mist and we set off that way.

Each step on the stone flagged descent brought an increase in comfort for us and for the nature. A long nose of a shrew quivered through a tussock of grass, heather and bilberry gave ground to flanks of oak woods vivid with bluebells, wild strawberries flowered in cracks.

After dropping 300 feet, we reached Oakdale Upper Reservoir, a small and pleasant one, then minutes later came to the lower more sylvan water. Here we waited for ages while Lesley tried, at a distance, to snap the classic picture - a pair of swans in perfect reflected profile. The swans had seen us and teased out a performance of their 'if you've got it flaunt it' routine. Nearby a lame rook hobbled pitifully through the wreckage of a harvested brassica crop. Swallows dipped and dived. We sought out our way back up.

This turned out to be Green Lane, a high-hedged track with views out over the countryside around Osmotherley. The track then levelled out and became somewhat cattle-churned near a farm. Things improved after the farm and we entered a dense conifer forest with some ruins and gnarled oaks; branches dripped down our necks and the air was thick with midges.

Exit from the forest brought home the fact that we had re-entered the low cloud zone. Denied any long open road views, we put our heads down and tramped on, our glum musings interrupted by a series of things that emerged from the gloom, non particularly brightening.

First a serious runner tore past with labradors bravely keeping up; too much of this is not good for labs, they wear out faster than people. Next a party of boisterous lads, one of whom excitedly pointed to a chaffinch and cried 'robin'. They were trailed by a group of disaffected young girls, then their adults. Tame partridges, an increasingly fashionable bird for shooting, pecked the verges.

A hot cup of tea at the Chequers Tea Room would have cheered us up, but it is carpeted, and with muddy boots and with the car park near we couldn't be bothered.

Fact file:

Distance: Four miles.

Time: Two hours.

General location: North York Moors National Park.

Start: Thimbleby Moor, Osmotherley.

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

Date walked: Saturday, May 18, 2002.

Road route: From the A19, one mile to Osmotherley, left at T-junction in village, left at end of village, two miles to car park.

Car parking: On moor at sharp bend in road. Free.

Lavatories: Osmotherley.

Refreshments: Chequers Tea Room. Pub and cafs in Osmotherley.

Tourist & public transport information: Helmsley TIC 01439 770173.

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

Terrain: Valley and moor.

Points of interest: Reservoirs.

Difficulty: Moderate.

Dogs: Suitable.

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.

1. From road corner/parking area gravel path downhill (signed Osmotherley), fork right to paved path (waymark). Gate and pass reservoir, ladderstile, track.

2. Pass house, track dips then uphill. Right to road, 50 yards, track on right, uphill (ignore left downhill after 300 yards). Pass farmhouse.

3. Gate into woods, 50 yards, right by ruin, uphill.

4. Fieldgate and right to track, joins road back to car park.

Click here to view a map of the walk

Updated: 09:01 Saturday, June 01, 2002