IF YOU travel out of Helmsley on the Scarborough road, you soon slip through two little villages squeezed together, Beadlam then Nawton. The pair persist as separate identities which is confusing. Every reference book has two sets of entries. In 1754 all the cattle died of distemper in Nawton; both parts are mainly made up of pleasant old houses.

Both were 'dry' villages until watered by the same ingenious supply that was channelled many miles from the moors by a Kirkbymoorside surveyor called Jack Foord, and was in use until replaced by pipes and pumps in 1960. In the late 18th century, the 'waterman' who looked after the supply, lodged at the White Horse Inn at Bedlam. There is another pub at Nawton, the Rose and Crown.

Hereabouts are places of interest; a little west are the remains of a Roman villa, a little east the famous Kirkdale hyena caves.

You may be asking what in particular will I find on this walk? Well, nothing perhaps except tranquillity and hopefully a continuation of the remarkable autumn, perhaps the mildest October in a thousand years, or so I read the other week.

We are walking the in-between lands. South is the flatness of Ryedale, about five miles north are the North York Moors. In between are the Tabular Hills and we climb their southern skirt.

This is an area long valued as well-drained farming land, being a gentle slope, and underneath limestone. There are old roads, and later on early nineteenth century enclosure fields. This agricultural character caused exclusion when the North York Moors National Park was created, though now the area is designated 'Moors Fringe' with 'high landscape value'.

I started in Beadlam and followed north a narrow shallow wooded valley called Howldale Lane with, either side, fields and abandoned mini quarries.

Sloe thickets were full of birds, a comfortable route, a steady climb, with the surface firm enough not to be much damaged by horses.

Almost parallel and a field or two away is our return route of cul-de-sac road, and paths cut across from one to the other at intervals, like steps on a ladder. So I could choose a very short walk, a slightly longer one or a four-and -a-half-miler (this I did not check).

I compromised so as not to prejudice my recuperating ankle and after a mile and a half cut across to Highfield Lane and then enjoyed the sunshine on the way down to Nawton.

Fact File

Distance: Three and a half miles.

Time: Two hours.

General location: South of the North York Moors.

Start: The villages of Nawton and Beadlam.

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

Date walked: Sunday, November 4, 2001.

Road route: Between Helmsley and Kirkbymoorside on the A170.

Car parking: Roadside.

Lavatories: None.

Refreshments: Two inns.

Tourist & public transport information: Helmsley TIC 01439 770173.

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

Terrain: An even slope from 250 feet to 450 feet.

Points of interest: Information on Jack Foord's watercourses from 'Inside the Moors' by Harry Mead, and at the Ryedale Folk Museum. 'The Ryedale Story' by John Rushton is good on the villages, especially land ownership.

Difficulty: Easy.

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. Along Howldale Lane (church on corner), tarmac turns to track.

2. Short route option only - right to path up slope immediately after conifer wood, then right to road and back to village.

3. Track joins road, 200 yards, stile on right and uphill beside hedge. Join track to left of hedge after about 200 yards.

4. Right to road and back to village.

Click here to view a map of the walk