George Wilkinson heads out across Hamer Moor

ROSEDALE Abbey deep in the North York Moors is ever so popular. Nearby, tucked away a mile or so to the east, hidden in a roll of moor, is a quite secret and nameless valley. Well, one we had never explored.

We sought it out from on high, took a longish lead in, strolling down from 1000ft on Hamer Moor on a track with turf to the side, spikes of rushes and then sombre heather. Grouse chortled and brooks babbled. Dark almost black sandstone stone merged with the moor in the shape of neat sheep enclosures and the same stone merged in perfectly blended vernacular style with roofs of black painted corrugated iron and grey sky.

Then we moved on to Black Moor as was in the 19th century. These days there is the half-light of the fir trees in a northernmost corner of the 20th century Cropton Forest. Soon we emerged from the gloom, managed to select a flooded path and then stopped at a view bench that gave us a clear picture of the top half of the valley.

Sandwiches were unwrapped, we started to appreciate the scene - smooth shape, less than a mile across, stream at bottom, scattered farms, little fields, conifer topping... when suddenly the Farndale hunt invaded.

First we heard baying of the hounds as they hurtled up the valley floor, then saw the urgent gathering of human followers on the far flank. A man with a walkie-talkie approached us, then two errant hounds frantic and uninterested in sandwiches.

Their pack was a half a mile away and perhaps the fox had confused them by running through a flock of sheep because dozens milled around for the scent and flowed over and over the walls of a single field.

We watched for a while, then set off again just as the riders and horses arrived. As we dropped to Hamer Beck they steadily climbed an adjacent field and then the hunt had gone and the valley settled down.

Chaffinches flitted from birch to birch, a far away farmer on a quad bike chivvied along a flock with his sheepdogs, and 40 geese flew south avoiding Christmas.

After a couple of side streams, a finger of forest, the most organic black tin sheet creations and an old gateway or two we found ourselves returned to our outward territory of Hamer Moor.

Crossing the moor were three parallel lines - a line of wooden grouse butts numbered one to nine, a line of old stone posts, and the line of a good track between the posts and the butts.

The route exactly as on the OS map has partially vanished, at a guess shifting sideways over the years. Either way you can make a nodding acquaintance with an admirable seven-foot tall thing called unfairly the 'Pile of Stones'.


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

1. Bar gate to track (signed), pass walled fields, from last corner carry straight on, i.e. leaving stony track for fainter track.

2. Stile/fieldgate into field, grassy track at 11 o'clock. Cross stream (slab bridge near wood).

3. Gate into wood and path straight on, over big track, keep wall to right in wood. Wood edge with fence to right. Ignore a waymarked small gate.

4. Note: forestry not as on O.S. map here. Fieldgate (waymarked) on right by bench, straight downhill, right at wall (forestry waymark), 100 yards, footbridge and stile, 10 o'clock downhill, fieldgate and bridge, left into farmyard.

5. Fieldgate on right immediately after farmhouse to track through fields (fieldgates). Ignore right fork and cross field to wall stile into wood, step-over stream, right to path uphill which angles away from stream, 100 yards, step-over stream, 100 yards, stiles into field, cross field, fieldgate, pass farm, track.

6. Fieldgate to 'farmyard' and immediately right and straight uphill on track (fieldgates.) Fieldgate to moor and straight on to track uphill, pass near 7 foot high 'Pile of stones', rejoin outward route at corner of walled fields.

Fact file:

Distance: Five miles.

Time: Two or three hours.

General Location: North York Moors.

Start: GR. 744 994

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

Date walked: Saturday, November 9, 2002.

Road Route: Rosedale Chimney Bank shut until January 6, 2003. Therefore leave the A170 at Wrelton, head via Cropton to Rosedale Abbey (village) and here take a right turn signed Egton 9. Parking area after about three miles, about one mile after crossing Hamer Beck.

Car Parking: Roadside - parking to north of start.

Lavatories: Rosedale Abbey (village).

Refreshments: Teashops, inns etc in Rosedale Abbey (village).

Tourist & Public Transport Information: The Moors Centre, Danby Tel 01287 660540

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

Terrain: Moor and small valley.

Points of interest: The route is well way-marked, some DIY. The forest we touch on is all open access area.

Difficulty: Moderate in clear weather.

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.

Click here to view a map of the walk

Updated: 09:45 Saturday, November 16, 2002