GEORGE WILKINSON makes the most of some winter sunshine and enjoys the breathtaking views from the Cleveland Hills

The Cleveland Hills sharpened up in watery sunshine and we were delighted to abandon plan B - low level from Guisborough Priory. Crossing our fingers, we nipped down Kildale and up a long length dead-end Tarmac track that finishes on Percy Cross Rigg, at the socket remnants of Percy Cross.

Shotguns crackled in a nearby valley, ducks rocketed out to safety and we set off on a rough and ancient track called Ernaldsti, warming up and stopping only to check a little military-style bunker abandoned to beer cans and such (see 'points of interest' in the fact file).

Then we took a length of the Cleveland Way. The peaty footpath suffers mountain bike erosion, but lengths are stone flagged, tastefully so, avoiding the municipal effect, and a lovely mile took us by upland pastures of sheep and cattle, a nice farm, raptors hunting, pondweed floating, and acres of heather.

Up ahead was a topping of pine trees and somewhere in this was Highcliff Nab, a great nose of sandstone which is a focus for paths and a magnet for travellers.

The view from the top will take your breath away, the rock stands sheer over a skirt of pine forest and 600 feet below sprawls Guisborough. There's the promise of a sea view on a clear day; we saw the flare of Teesside chimneys.

Take a sit-mat, naff or not, as the view bench is stainless steel. Also steel is an oversized Tees Way finger-post adorned with integral welded rucksack. Whoever made this should be encouraged to carry it round the crosses of the moors while being beaten with trekking poles.

Nothing mars the return leg across the moors above Sleddale, a valley of pleasing symmetry. Back on the Rigg is a small fenced enclosure of Iron Age hut circles with a neat bronze information plaque.

The last time we were hereabouts a reader, Mrs Wherry of Haxby, wrote in suggesting that I had "missed a treat". So we took the mile to Kildale where the Glebe Cottage Caf Tea Room advertises 'Muddy boots. Bums and Pets welcome' (not my punctuation), and where menu holders are mini-ladderstiles. Here and happy we slurped hot chocolate with cream and marshmallows.

Fact file

Distance: Four and a half miles.

Time: Two or three hours.

General Location: North York Moors.

Start: End of tarmac road, GR. 606118.

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

Date walked: Saturday 30 November 2002.

Road Route: Via Stokesley or Castleton. The dead-end road from the road junction at GR. 631100 which is missing its sign.

Car Parking: Roadside, limited, do not bring a Ferrari up here.

Lavatories: None.

Refreshments: Glebe Cottage Tea Rooms, Kildale (village), open every day.

Tourist & Public Transport Information: Guisborough TIC 01287 633801.

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

Terrain: Moorland tracks and paths.

Points of interest: Driving home I noticed that the long established beauty-spot car park at Hob Hole GR. 652075 has been closed by the National Parks and the Kildale Estate. I asked why, thinking this was probably just for the season, and why there is a ditch dug across the car park. The ditch is because the car park had become a 'drugs site'! Perhaps the closure is for the same reason. There is a tradition of shenanigans here. Within shouting distance of Hob Hole is Gin Garth, by repute a 'resort of smugglers and drinking parties'. Anyway, to do the nice innocent walk dated June 2002 on the Evening Press website that starts at Hob Hole I would suggest you park instead in Baysdale which is accessed by a dead-end road that leads up south from just west of the village of Kildale.

Difficulty: Moderate, for sober walkers.

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. At end of Tarmac, straight on through fieldgate to track uphill (signed bridleway).

2. About 100 yards before forest, path on right (Cleveland Way post, ignore forks off main path). Paving in places. Eventually uphill beside wall to your left.

3. About 100 yards before forest when beside fieldgate on left (waymarked), uphill for 100 yards, gate on left into wood, 100 yards, fork right up to Nab following Cleveland Way signs. NB Steep Drop. Rejoin route by retracing steps down to start of Direction No.3, grassy path/track on left (opposite fieldgate), 50 yards, join main track, 100 yards, left fork. Becomes Tarmac. (Please note, the unofficial but well-used short-cut from the Nab to rejoin main route is 100 yards on track straight on from gate out of wood - passing 'Dogs on Leads' sign on stone).

4. Right to road and back to start.

Click here to view a map of the walk

Updated: 09:49 Saturday, December 07, 2002