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Beadlam to Pockley, Skiplam, Kirkdale & Wombleton

The fertile, limestone slopes of the Tabular Hills on the edge of the North York Moors National Park make for easy yet stimulating walking, offering a contrast between the open expanse of arable fields and the deep, wooded valleys which cut through them from north to south.

We explore both aspects on this 10 mile  route which starts from the double village of Beadlam and Nawton, 3 miles east of Helmsley on the A 170 Scarborough road, (GR 654847).

Distance: 10 miles

Time: 5 to 6 hours

Grade: easy

Conditions: well signed path, could be muddy in Kirk Dale

Refreshments: Nawton, Wombleton, Beadlam Grange Tearoom, (half mile west on A 170)

OS Explorer Map OL26

Originally published: 16 April 2010

From the crossroads in the centre where a delightfully quaint memorial shelter is built around a large sycamore, go past Beadlam church along Howldale Lane. Within 200 yards you leave the houses and follow a tree lined track along a dry valley, a feature typical of the Tabular Hills.

In about 400 yards, where the track bends to the right, go left on a path which climbs gently to a tarred lane. Turn left and then immediately right on a well signed path which continues around Marr Wood. It then goes left, heading towards Pockley, visible just over half a mile away. Goodhams Dale, another dry valley, is crossed and the path soon makes a sharp right turn. After two gates, and close to the first buildings, go left to the village street.

 Pockley is known for its thatched houses, once common but now somwhat rare in Yorksire. The finest is White Cottage, a few yards down on the left, described in 'Thatch in and around Ryedale', as "an ancient longhouse which, centuries ago, would have provided shelter for a farming family and their livestock".

Our walk continues in the opposite direction, past the church designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott in 1870. At the end of the village turn right on to Sandpit Lane. For the next three miles our route is easy going as it folllows hard surfaced, traffic free lanes across the open landscape with sweeping views over the Vale of Pickering to the Wolds.

After a mile, and just before Low Farm, turn right and rejoin Howldale Lane in another 200 yards. Go left and into the trees surrounding Nawton Lodge. Turn right in front of the entrance and continue for another three quarters of a mile to Skiplam Road, where go right.

Recorded as Thurkilsti as early as 1145, our road once linked Kirkbymoorside with Stokesley over the moors. We follow it southwards. Some 20 yards past Skiplam Cottages you could reduce the walk by some 4 miles by turning right on a bridleway back to Nawton, (not mapped).

Our main walk however goes left here down to Skiplam Grange. Just before the first buildings take a track through a gate, sharp right. This curves away to the left and drops down into Kirk Dale, a complete contrast with the farmland above. The track soon splits into three. Follow the middle option which leads to a bridge over Hodge Beck, signed as 'unsafe for horses'.

Our walk now follows the pretty, peaceful dale downstream for almost three miles. To begin with, go straight over the valley floor meadow to join a right of way just inside the wood ahead. Turn right. The path soon emerges from the trees and continues as a broad track close to the beck to reach Hold Caldron Mill, dated 1734.

Do not cross the bridge but continue downstream through the woods on the left bank. In 200 yards fork right. The path at first stays high above the stream before descending to the meadows surrounding Kirkdale Minster.

Until recent floods swept them away two bridges once gave direct access to the church. Their twisted remains are stark evidence of the power of water is spate. Following a dry spell the beck usually flows underground at this point so you may be lucky to reach the far side dryshod. If, like me, you find the beck running strongly, then stay on the left bank and follow the path through the trees to the ford below the church where there's a sturdier footbridge. In a nearby cliff at this point are the remains of the cave where, in 1821, workmen found the bones of tigers, lions and more than 20 other animals dating from about 70,000 BC, when the climate was much warmer.

The venerable St. Gregory's Minster is one of Yorkshire gems. Sheltered by tall trees, the church sits in the ancient "Christ's Acre" which has belonged to it for over 1000 years. The tower is Saxon and its prize possession is the Saxon sundial now in the south porch. The inscription was carved in the reign of Edward the Confessor a few years before the Battle of Hastings and is the longest Saxon message engraved in stone to have survived.

Our walk continues down the valley. From the church gate follow the access track and in 200 yards, at a junction with a lane, take a path ahead over a stile. This soon passes a handsome viaduct built to carry the Helmsley to Pickering railway over the deep valley of the Hodge Beck.

Continue to the A 170 and cross it to reach Tilehouse Bridge, built in 1773 and named after a nearby tileworks. The path continues to the edge of the grounds surrounding the imposing Welburn Hall, now a school. It dates from the early 17th century but was much extended in Victorian times.

Turn right in the field along the edge of the grounds to a lane. Cross straight over and follow a field path for almost a mile into Wombleton, entering the village close to the Plough Inn.

Turn right along the village street and then left on to Back Lane. In about 10 paces take a path on the right. This crosses one field to join a track close to some large barns near South Lund Farm.

Follow the track when it turns sharp right towards Nawton. Just past the former station a path leads left down the side of Calverts Carpets and then through a series of kissing gates and over the ridges and furrows of one of the village's medieval open fields. At Gale Lane, turn right to reach our starting point.


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