George Wilkinson experiences the purple haze of heather at Cropton.

This walk is impossible on Sunday February 19, 2006 due to the Kall Kwik car rally in the forest.

Cropton stands on the southern edge of the North York Moors and is ancient and interesting, with its line of stone houses, stone walled gardens, its old chapel, reading room, school and its ex-Well House that drew the water from 300ft underground before it was capped in 1920. Though the village isn't dry, it has a microbrewery.

The depth of the well corresponds to our descent down Cropton Banks to Cropton Beck and then the River Seven, where half a dozen Shetland ponies grazed and many finches and tits rushed about in mixed winter foraging parties

We kept to the valley of the Seven, heading north, walking the line between grouse-shooting land on the moor above and pheasant shooting land below. There are also sheep. A drainage ditch had been recently cleared and plastic piped which will help the heather. This is the open part of the walk, a nice track that eventually fades to a path with heather all around and views to Rosedale. Across the valley is the forest we return through.

To get to the trees, we hoped to walk the water at the confluence of the Seven with Hartoft Beck. Here there are stepping stones marked on the OS map and we crossed our fingers that they would be useful, otherwise we'd have had to reclimb and push on to the bridge further north.

The stepping stones looked stylish, pointed to cut into the flow, but were slippery, with the water skimming over some and paddling would have wetted the knees. So check the weather. Just along is an intensely rust-red spring oozing from the black ground.

The forest held the cold of the previous night; not a breath of wind. The conifers are flashed by silver birch; there are many wheelbarrow-sized ant heaps. Tracks took us further north, Driffield students were out in their Red Kite minibus, Hamer Beck ran below, pines towered above, a deer bobbed its white rear.

Then a climb to the forested tops, to the grid of wide crushed limestone tracks and interconnective narrow paths. Now and then, every mile or so or every hour, there's a view to the moors, otherwise it's hard to get your bearings and a satellite navigator complements the compass and OS map.

We found the campsite clearing and continued a downhill run south until the inevitable, the climb back up Cropton Banks which we did on a steep sunken path soft with moss and half light.


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

1. North through village, left at 'Well House' site, left to track at Church. Right to road downhill (verge), left to road (signed Lastingham).

2. Bridge, gate on right (signed), 150 yards by fence, fieldgate, diagonally left 50 yards, stile/fieldgate, 1 o'clock, stile. Right to dead-end road.

3. Cattlegrid/fieldgate to moor and right-hand track. Left before farmyard (fingerpost) to path by fields, then through heather.

4. About 400 yards after second moorland birch tree and 60 after 'stone slab' on path, small cairn on right to narrow path (GR SE 746922) to angle down to river confluence. Stepping stones, path, three stiles.

Alternate route avoiding stepping stones: Keep on main path, after walled fields 250 yards small pile of stones (GR 745935) cut back right and down on narrow path, ladderstile (waymark), 11 o'clock, footbridge, five yards, gate, ten yards, gap in hedge, by house, track up 50 yards, stile (waymark), hedge gap (waymark), gate.

Both routes: Right to road, bridge, 100 yards.

5. Track on left (signed).

6. House parking area, 50 yards, fork right to track, 50 yards, barrier, track.

7. At 's' bend, narrow path on right at one o'clock, steep (waymarked post GR 759935), wall remnants after 100 yards. Left ten yards on track, right to continue on path (waymarked post propped against tree).

8. Right to track (GR 764 935 arrow), 100 yards, left fork.

9. At junction by stone shed/tinsheet structure, second right, pass play area, tarmac, barrier.

10. Right at T-junction, 100 yards on tarmac, path on left (arrow), left to track, five yards, path on right (arrow) to footbridge, left, 200 yards uphill via left-hand bend.

11. Right at paths' junction (arrows other way), 200 yards, cross track to continue path, left to main track, 100 yards, 'track' on right downhill through felled area, cross made track, bungalow in view across field, felled area to right, grassy path/track downhill with tiny stream to right, then on it.

12. Cross made track to made track downhill for 100 yards, fieldgate on right into yard, pass house, fieldgate on left, footbridge, cross turnaround area to path uphill (waymarked post), 50 yards, left ten yards (waymarked post), right (waymarked post), join path (waymarked post), stile into field, fenced path, swings right, stile/fieldgate, stay on track. Gate, right to road (verge) into Cropton.

Fact file

Distance: Eight, or nine miles.

Time: Four hours.

General location: North York Moors.

Start: Cropton.

Right of way: Public routes and Forestry Commission open access forest. Dogs legal.

Map: Drawn from OS Explorer OL27 North York Moors eastern area.

Date walked: Friday February 3 2006.

Road route: Signed north from Wrelton (near Pickering) on the A170.

Car parking: Roadside.

Lavatories: None.

Refreshments: The Cropton Brewery at the New Inn. The Blacksmiths Country Inn, Hartoft.

Tourist and public transport information:

Terrain: Hilly, half forested.

Points of interest: Cawthorne Roman Camp nearby.

Difficulty: Quite difficult.

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

Updated: 16:43 Friday, February 10, 2006