GEORGE WILKINSON hops on the Moorsbus for the 'forbidden land'

The Moorsbuses have been cruising the North York Moors like a fleet of Marie Celestes. Here is a chance to take a ride and do a linear route recommended by the parks authority.

You jump off the bus on the A170 and with a step north are in the North York Moors National Park, and the long ascent of the moors' southern escarpment begins.

Essentially, we take an old track route from Appleton-le-Moors, with its austere and elegant medieval single street symmetry, to the jumbled prettiness of popular Hutton-le-Hole.

To get to Appleton, there is a mile or more of quiet, unfenced Tarmac. You pass Appleton Common looking nicely wild with scrub and a haze of seeding grass and you pass the familiar sad litany of signs - 'Village facilities open' (pub and hotel in this case) and 'Moorland closed do not leave the road'. Unless of course you are carrying a gun.

There has been surprisingly little said about the decision to allow shooting but not walking on the moors. When one complains, it can seem as though one is anti grouse shooting. I am not, as a blood sport it is not horrible like the massacre of factory-farmed pheasants, and clearly it is integral with the cultural and cultured landscape of the moors and the economy and ecology of the area. Though I think the wall-to-all heather is often over intensive and overdone.

The situation is a PR gamble for the parks authority. I guess it thought that local farmers would publicly protest at walkers but not at shooters. Unless I have missed something in the letters pages, this has happened. After all, many of the farmers are tenants to the landowners and also this is a very traditional and hierarchical area.

The socio-political ramifications of foot and mouth are considerable, remember how the hunters and shooters were once the vanguard of The Countryside Alliance, supposedly speaking for all country people.

This walk is a trek to the edge of the forbidden land and hence brought on the rant. Lest you think I'm just filling space because the walk is poor - it's not. The views are good, south over Ryedale and north, time to time, to the purple heather. Along the way you pass little old quarries, thickets and deep sloe hedges, and you might just catch the sound of gunfire.


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

1. From junction on A170, unfenced road beside common to Appleton-le-Moors.

2.Track on left after Appleton Hall (signed).

3. Right at paths/track crossroads and gate/fieldgate (signed) to track through field. Join hedged track at end of field and ignore side turns.

4. Old quarry/trees on left, 200 yards, field-edge path on left (signed). Path dog-legs then swings left downhill towards wood. Keep hedge to right.

5. Stile, 100 yards, stile into thicket and right to path/track. Uphill.

6. Right at T-junction to track and ignore a left turn, track becomes hedged.

7.Track swings sharp left at field, then right at trees and downhill. Right on Tarmac lane, 50 yards, into Hutton-le-Hole. Moorsbus pickup point outside museum.


Distance: Five and a half miles.

Time: Two hours plus.

General location: Southern edge of North York Moors.

Start: A170, the turnoff for

Appleton-le-Moors, signed.

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

Date walked: Sunday, August 26, 2001.

Road route: From York via Helmsley, Hovingham or Malton.

Car parking: If not using Moorsbus - car park in Hutton-le-Hole or street parking in Appleton-le-Moors.

Lavatories: Car park in Hutton-le-Hole.

Refreshments: Pub and hotel in Appleton-le-Moors. Pub and tea shops in Hutton-le-Hole.

Tourist & Public Transport Information: The Moorsbus service runs Sundays until October 28, 2001. For the timetable contact Sutton Bank National Park Centre 01845 597 426 Actually I found it easier to get the timetable up via www.northyorkmoors/ The last bus of the numerous afternoon buses from Hutton-le-Hole to Sutton Bank is at 1610. The last to pass through Hutton-le-Hole at 1750 goes as far as Helmsley.

Map: Based on OS Outdoor Leisure 26, North York Moors western area.

Terrain: Slope of escarpment.

Points of interest: Ryedale Folk Museum at Hutton-le-Hole.

Difficulty: Moderate. Good surfaces.

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