WE DROVE to the North York Moors Sutton Bank Visitors Centre and then along the dead straight Cleveland Road to where its Tarmac stops and it becomes the famous Hambleton Road. Here there are arrows for cycle trails - '12 miles, highly technical', 'seven miles, challenging'... . Our six over a gently sloping upland plateau turned out easy and delightful.

It was misty as we started up the Hambleton Road. Peewits popped in out of the gloom. There were no more cyclists for miles, much to the girls' disappointment; I think most of them are signposted into Boltby Forest there to break their 'nice legs' in 'highly technical' ways.

After a while we skirted this forest, where the conifers tinged bright with fresh growth looked sharp in the mist. This was the only wooded bit, otherwise you can see for miles, as we could when the grey dispersed soon after the woods. There was heather now with occasionally, in damp places, beautiful swathes of cotton grass like cotton wool on sticks.

One gains altitude imperceptibly so watch out after a couple of miles for the trig point at 1,200 feet and its attendant Neolithic long barrow. Just after that there are good views west off the edge of the escarpment in addition to those north towards the Cleveland Hills. We were surprised how few Cleveland Way walkers or cyclists there were, and when we turned east we almost had Little Moor to ourselves. Our track is one of those only marked on the latest OS maps. It provides a good look down into the richly wooded Thorodale and the lake there and best of all a beautiful valley-framed angle on the sculptural hills around Hawnby.

By now heather had shaded to rough grassland teeming with birds, the incessant skylarks almost an irritation. The grass is decorated with occasional blackthorn trees and under one was a curlew's nest, to judge by the birds' display of pretend lameness and close circling.

Eventually the plateau becomes more agricultural, but still with wide track verges and lots of flowers and birds and views. The Iron Age dyke near the finish has a drystone wall over it. At the car park a gladiatorial and armoured downhill mountain biker was re-pressurising his hydraulics, a little thrill for some as they peeled off their coats.

Fact file

Distance: Six miles.

Time: Three hours.

General location: Western edge of North York Moors.

Start: Silver Hill.

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

Date walked: Saturday, June 8, 2002.

Road route: From A170 to Sutton Bank Centre. Half a mile on the Cold Kirby road, then left at junction (half a mile before Cold Kirby) and straight for two miles.

Car parking: Free car park, signed Boltby Forest Cycle Trails. GR. 509 877.

Lavatories: Sutton Bank Visitors Centre.

Refreshments: Inns at Hawnby, Scawton and Sutton Bank. Kiosk and caf at Sutton Bank Visitor Centre.

Tourist & Public Transport Information: Sutton Bank Visitor Centre Tel: 01845 597426.

Map: Based on OS Explorer OL 26, North York Moors western area.

Terrain: Upland plateau.

Points of interest: The Kepwick Long Barrow, GR. 492904, is Neolithic, 100 feet long and contained the 'disarticulated' remains of adults and children. The Silver Hill Tumulus was probably part of a grid of dykes, the 'Cleave Dyke system', probably territorial and for land management in the Iron Age. Last day tomorrow of local landscape photographs at Sutton Bank Centre,

Difficulty: Comfortable and straightforward.

Dogs: Suitable, but sheep and ground nesting birds

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. Track from car park. Gravel path through edge of forest.

2. At junction (fieldgate and Tarmac road downhill on left) and road signs, turn right to stony track uphill. Fieldgates.

3. As wall and wood run next to track and track descends, turn right uphill on sinuous stony track with grass up middle. After about 25 yards turn round and see lake below.

4. Fieldgate in small dry valley (waymark), grassy track swings left then keep straight on (wall on left) and ignore fainter right forks.

5. Right by wood, track swings left (don't turn left into valley), then joins wall to left. Fieldgate.

6. Path doglegs 10 yards to left of fence. At copse fork left 100 yards to road.

Click here to view a map of the walk

Updated: 16:28 Friday, June 14, 2002