The well-wooded steep sides valley of the Esk between Glaisdale and Grosmont provides a number of not too challenging walks with constantly changing viewpoints. Our seven-mile route climbs to the heights above Egton Bridge and then on to Lease Rigg with a panorama of the confluence of the Esk with its main tributary, the Murk Esk. The return leg is mainly alongside the river though, of course, an easier alternative would be to take the train either from Grosmont or even Egton Bridge.
Distance: 7 miles
Time: 4 to 5 hours
Conditions: well sign-posted
Refreshments: Glaisdale, Grosmont, Egton Bridge
Originally published: 17 December 2004
Our route starts at Carr End near Glaisdale station. Go down the road from the station to Beggar's Bridge, built for Thomas Ferris in 1619. He was a Hull boy who used to ford the River Esk to visit his girlfriend Agnes Richardson. Her father thought Thomas too poor to marry his daughter, so he went off and made his fortune, returned to marry Agnes, later became Mayor of Hull and built the bridge so that others could cross the river dry-shod.
From the bridge, go back under the railway and take the stepped path to the left of the ford over Glaisdale Beck. This climbs high into Arnecliff Wood and remains above the river which can occasionally be heard or glimpsed through the trees. For at least half a mile the path is a well-worn stone trod, part of an important packhorse route down the valley from Glaisdale to Whitby. In less than a mile, the path joins the road from Egton to Rosedale. Go right uphill and past the hamlet of Delves, which gets its name from the bell pits which were dug here for iron ore in t:he thirteenth century.
Beyond the hamlet, and after two sharp bends, turn left through a gate and go down past the rear of Delves' buildings to cross Butter Beck. The path is well signposted as it climbs through fields to meet a farm track. Go right to Hall Grange Farm which is built in the local sandstone and decorated, like many others in the area, with a fine herringbone pattern.
Turn left at the farm up to a ruined barn where go right on a bridleway to meet the track from Swang Farm, Go left here and right when you reach a tarred lane.
All along this stretch, and for the next two miles, there arc outstanding views into Eskdale. After a quarter of a mile, leave the lane on a footpath to the left just after skirting a disused quarry. After two fields there is a easily negotiated ladder stile and the path is well sign-posted to another tarred lane, where go left. At a crossroads in 150 yards, go straight across a lane to "Esk Valley".
Our lane drops gently through farmland past High Burrows Farm and on to Lease Rigg. At Bessie Garth, the next house, look out more successfully than I did for faint banks and ditches in the fields on both sides of the road. These mark an early second century Roman camp excavated in 1958. It was linked to the fort at Malton by the road which runs over Wheeldale Moor some five miles away. Part of the road has been excavated and is accessible to the public.
Beyond the Lease Rigg camp with its commanding views, the road probably continued to the coast. Our lane now joins another and takes us to Lease Rigg East Farm on the narrow ridge between the Esk and the Murk Esk valleys. Go right through the farmyard on a path which drops down to Grosmont. In the quarter of a mile there is an excellent view of the village (seats provided).
For railway enthusiasts this must be heaven with constant activity at the junction where the North York Moors Railway meets the Esk Valley line. Away to the right, too, there is often steam riding through the trees from the train sheds.
The path now crosses the tunnel used by the steam line and passes the parish church, To the right of the porch, look out for the granite boulder carried by glacial motion from Shap in the Pennines in the last Ice Age to a location near High Burrows Farm. This erratic completed its journey to the church in 1892, courtesy of some local worthies who then recorded its history on a metal plaque.
The walk continues over the level crossing and out on the Egton road for half a mile to cross the bridge over the Esk. Ignore the road which fords the river and instead go next left which leads in a mile and a half to Egton Bridge. Once a toll road where, among a long list of charges, 4d was paid for one horse and 1s 4d for three horses and four wheels, it is now a
permissive path no longer open to vehicles.
The river is in sight for much of the way and the old tollhouse is passed at the halfway point.
Egton Bridge is reached past the manicured lawns and curving ha-ha walls of the Manor House built in 1875. Turn right in the village only if you wish to visit the fine Roman Catholic church, take the train from the station or call in at the Postgate Inn.
Our route, however, goes left and then first right along a street of cottages and Victorian houses built when the railway first made the Esk Valley popular, Away to the left can be glimpsed the fine stone bridge built by the county council in 1993 in the style of an earlier structure of 1758 which was destroyed in floods.
Continue along an ancient trod which serves as a pavement for a quarter of a mile. The road runs by the river for a short stretch before climbing under the railway. Just past Broom House, go left over a stile and cross one field to a stream. The path then rises to a stile leading into Limber Hill Wood.
A last short climb will bring you to a track which crosses one field as it heads for Limber Hill Farm. Go to the left of all the farm buildings as a fluttering yellow arrow on a prominent post indicates. Turn right after a gate , reach the road at the top of Limber Bank, one of the steepest roads in Yorkshire. Go down the bank for 200 yards before turning left via a stile on to a path which plunges directly down through woods to Beggar's Bridge.