Grosmont is this week's destination for George Wilkinson.

Today we have a triangular route on high moor with terrific views out in all directions, and the triangle filled with heather. A short walk that would combine nicely with a few hours at Whitby which is six miles down the road.

The big car park sits isolated on Sleights Moor, and one could just laze here for hours. A lorry driver pulled in for lunch, broke the spell, and I clambered out, clobbered up, and set off to walk a first leg of windswept tarmac, the road towards Grosmont.

The views are over heather to the Esk Valley which is a mile or so away and sweeps like a great moat to the west, north and east. Close to the road are the 'High Bride Stones' and the 'Low Bride Stones', the remnants of standing stone circles or rows and not to be confused with the 'Bridestones' at Dalby Forest.

The tarmac dips, starts a descent to Grosmont and we turn off, but remember to look the other way here for a wedge of Whitby's sea framed in the valley.

Now we follow the stone wall that separates Eskdale from open moor, sometimes meandering to negotiate boot-high tufts of moss, knee-high rocks, shoulder-high plumes of rushes and a network of rivulets. Then we dip steeply into a valley cut by Lythe Beck, where in the shelter are ash and birch.

Lythe Beck was a one-step crossing but note, debris from last year's floods is snagged at waist height.

A short, sharp climb brings us to Greenlands Farm and Arundel Hill, the second corner of the triangle. I decided on a ten-minute diversion, a loop round the hill to a point on the straight and very narrow line of tholeiite that cuts across the country. It's the Cleveland Dyke here called Whinstone Ridge. You can see the first of the many quarries (roadstone), plus you get a view of the Fylingdales Radar Station and sight of a fork from the Esk Valley.

Returning to Arundel Hill brings us our last leg. I stood on the edge of the moor and decided there was no path. I think if I'd taken binoculars I could have seen my car a mile away, certainly if I'd parked it on the back skyline edge of the car park. Occasionally a vehicle would confirm the horizon as the Grosmont road. In poor visibility you would set your compass.

The first half-mile was a simple skirt of a rock field on short heather. Now I could see my motor.

As I zig-zagged through the thick heather, I found an ancient stone route marker but no path. A very large hairy caterpillar of the hawk moth ate heather (do not touch as they can give a rash) and a snipe broke my concentrated foot watching and caused a bootful of peaty water.

Take this observation from the past: - 'on desolate moors...travellers are guided like racehorses by posts set up for fear of bogs and holes'. Not any more. Posts are the answer. Not many, two would do for our route, and they would not be ugly as has been suggested by the authorities, not compared to grouse butts made of bog-standard wooden pallets.

Otherwise a problem that pre-dates foot and mouth will worsen, and the practice of eradicating paths by fire will have to be addressed. Till then progress like the caterpillar not the racehorse.

Fact file

Distance: Nearly four miles.

Time: Two hours.

General location: North York Moors, six miles from Whitby.

Start: Moorland.

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

Date walked: Thursday, October 11, 2001.

Road route: Take the A169 north from Pickering for 15 miles. Left at sign reading 'Grosmont 21/4, Egton 31/4'. Car park a third of mile on left, by footpath sign.

Car parking: Large and free.

Lavatories: None.

Refreshments: Nearest at Grosmont.

Tourist and public transport information: Pickering TIC 01751 473791

Map: Based on OS OL 27 North York Moors western area.

Terrain: Moorland top with one small valley.

Points of interest: Exceptional views. Quote on moorland guide poles via Sir Nikolaus Pevsner but not attributed.

Difficulty: Moderate.

Dogs: Suitable.

Weather forecast: Evening Press and recorded forecast 0891 500 418.


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

1. From car park left to road.

2. Cattle grid sign, 20 yards, left at footpath sign - keep stone wall on right. Descend to and step over stream.

3. Gate, ten yards, fork right, 20 yards then swing left up grassy hill, various 'paths' but do not drop down to stream on left. Join farm track to left of farm at gate and fingerpost. Climb for another 200 yards to hill top.

4. For detour round Arundel Hill follow track to right as far as gate and carved stone 'Greenlands' sign. Otherwise, left on pasture between remnant of wall on left and wall/fence on right, 100 yards, stile in fence. For first half of moor keep just out of rock field on left, and do not descend. Then head straight up to car park which you should see. No obvious path.

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