Hold Caldron is one of my sweetest childhood haunts. Arriving here has a magic, as the quiet back road twists round a corner and suddenly dips steep into another world, and then stops at the bottom, deep in a lovely valley, at a stone bridge over a river. The water runs beside an old mill building and crashes over a weir into a slightly scary pool and paths disappear into the woods.

Nearby, a gate opens to a suntrap pasture. Here we would picnic by the river while brave types swung over the water on a rope, and boys would play football as they do.

Nowadays, there is the sport of pheasant shooting; the noisy birds are in the woods and pegs in the pasture mark places for the guns. And you will see there is wire by the water and a sign reading 'danger'. How did one survive? Today Hodge Beck was high and muddy and certainly very cold with snowmelt, not enticing, not like the sheltered valley it was flowing from.

In the days before I had maps (and a fully developed sense of proper direction) I would wander Kirk Dale as its Hodge Beck meanders. But for us there was a nice track cum path, along one side of a valley floor occupied by the twists and turns of the beck, following a line up against the trees where they start up the eastern flank. The beech were hanging on to their leaves, across the valley the woods were boldly striped with autumn colours and here and there the ground was flecked with frozen snow. A side path for another day crosses over by a bridge that Prince Charles opened.

Then a bridleway takes us up Mell Bank and a track leads us to Green Lane, an elegant avenue. We were homing in on the hamlet of Fadmoor because by its green is the Plough Inn and I had promised my photographer some refreshments, but the Plough was shut for a few days. Sorry Leslie, sandwiches next time.

If it's not too wet take the field-side path back from Fadmoor for the views to the moors. The rest of our return to Hold Caldron is on Caldron Mill Road, a track. At first it is open and level with lovely long views to the Wolds, then it drops through the woods where a soft breeze rained down a shower of larch needles and we emerged back at the mill.


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

1. From car park, down track, stone bridge over Hodge Beck, left, 50 yards, stile/fieldgate, track through field then beside/above river, into field, 200 yards.

2. Stile/fieldgate on right and left to track/path along lower edge of wood (yellow plastic waymark).

3. Fieldgate with wire netting then immediately fork right to sunken path uphill.

4. Left at T-junction with path about two-thirds of way uphill then ignore right fork after 20 yards.

5. Left to track at top of hill. Right to road, left and left to Fadmoor.

6. From Fadmoor, stile on right, ten yards at 11 o'clock then right-hand side of fence/hedge (imperfect margins). Stile.

7. Left to road, uphill, rejoin Caldron Mill Lane (track).

8. Track enters woods and descends, fork left at 'Y' junction above small clearing, 50 yards, left to track (signed) and down to Hold Caldron (fieldgates, ignore side turns).

Fact file

Distance: Four and a half miles.

Time: Two hours.

General location: Just inside the southern boundary of the North York Moors National Park.

Start: Hold Caldron. Grid Ref: 668 868.

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

Date walked: Sunday, November 11, 2001.

Road route: From major crossroads 1 miles west of the outskirts of Kirkbymoorside, take road north (signed 'Kirkdale'), mile, left at T-

junction (no sign), mile, turn right (signed 'Skiplam only' and dead end). After half a mile and after farm on right, turn right (dead end sign, and home-made Hold Caldron sign in hedge).

Car parking: Small 'walkers only' car park, this is fairly new, otherwise roadside. Could start at Fadmoor.

Lavatories: None.

Refreshments: Inn at Fadmoor. Closed Tuesdays.

Tourist and public transport information: Helmsley TIC 01439 770173.

Terrain: Valley floor, wooded slopes, and open tops.

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

Points of interest: The beautiful Hold Caldron Mill, which is featured in detail in the 'Houses of the North York Moors' by HMSO.

Difficulty: Moderate.

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