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Hutton-le-Hole to Lastingham & Douthwaite Dale

"A charming little place to find in a green hollow of the moors, it is all up and down with a scurrying stream winding among houses scattered here and there standing at all angles." Hutton-le-Hole has changed little since Arthur Mee wrote this some 70 years ago, although he would no doubt be surprised by its present popularity. Its history of farming, weaving and mining can best be appreciated in the Ryedale Folk Museum.

From here we start our 9 mile walk which attempts to do justice to the wide variety of beautiful scenery which surrounds the village, from moorland and forest  to picturesque dales and rich arable land. Walk down the main street and in 100 yards turn left at the first footpath sign, just beyond the church. The path soon leaves the houses and crosses several fields before entering a pretty wood. Go right when you reach the Hutton to Lastingham road which  runs here on the edge of the moors.

Distance: 9 miles

Time: 5 hours

Grade: moderate

Conditions: no steep climbs, signing 80% complete [in 2007]

Refreshments: Hutton-le-Hole, Lastingham, Gillamoor

OS Explorer Map OL26

Originally published: 10 August 2007

In less than half a mile turn left through a gate on to High Cross Plain. Follow the track as it bears to the right along the walled boundary between  the cultivated land and the moor. In about 400 yards leave the path at Camomile Farm and join the access track which drops into Lastingham.

This is an ancient place, mentioned by Bede as the site of the 7th century monastery founded by  the brothers, Saints Cedd and Chad. Nothing remains from that time but the church, approached along a broad green causeway, is famous for its apsed crypt of 1078, described by Pevsner as 'unforgettable'.

From the Blacksmith's Arms below the church follow the winding village street past St. Cedd's Well. It is thought that the stone for its canopy came from Rosedale Abbey in the 19th century. Go right at the next  junction, signed to Cropton, and then turn right again in 50 yards between Bridge Farm and Prospect Cottage. The lane, a cul de sac, passes an attractive row of cottages. It then turns into a path which, as it climbs a steep bank through trees, is accompanied by a deep hollow way, probably the original entrance to the village from the south.

In a quarter of a mile the path arrives at a road junction. Go straight ahead into Spaunton with its long line of limestone houses. At the end, just after Woodman's Cottage, dated 1695, turn left down Spaunton Lane. A pleasant meander of more than half a mile through wheat fields follows. Turn right at the first junction into Lingmoor Lane, a bridleway which in 300 yards, leads  by a gate into a field. Cross this and turn right through another gate. The bridleway continues around the edge of a tree covered quarry. At the end of the trees turn left over a stile and across a large field to Lingmoor Farm, just out of sight over the horizon. (Please note that the short cut marked on the map is easier to use when there are no standing crops).

From the farm go down the track for half a mile to the road from Hutton-le-Hole to Kirkbymoorside and turn left. Follow the road for about 300 yards. After a right hand bend two unsigned paths leave the road into trees on the right.  As I discovered the first leads to a

quarry. Take the second which goes across forested open access land past a large pheasant enclosure to Yoad Wath and its picturesque ford over the River Dove. The old cornmill on the far side was converted into a sawmill in the 20th century.

Cross the bridge and follow the lane past the mill for some 200 yards before going right on a path which climbs steeply through thick woodland to a tarred lane. Turn right.

We now head north for about two and a half miles along the west side of Douthwaite Dale, the valley carved by the Dove through limestone hills. Much of the route is along tranquil forest tracks. Few walkers come this way. Follow the lane for about 400 yards to where it turns left and then continue ahead along Back of Parks Road. The name refers to the medieval park of the de Stutevilles and the Nevilles of Kirkbymoorside. It functioned as a hunting reserve as late as Elizabeth I's reign.

In another half mile take a signed bridleway to the right. This descends steeply through trees to the valley floor Further up the dale it crosses two meadows with views of the 500 feet heights of Shepherd's Nab on the far bank. It then returns into Hagg Wood  to climb the valley's steep scarp. At the top cross one field before leaving the bridleway on a path which brings you into Gillamoor.

The church, restored by James Smith in 1802, merits a visit. To its left, along the road, is the unmissable Surprise View, a vast panorama of Farndale and the high moors beyond. There's a seat here too for picnics or just for contemplation of the scene and of John Keble's verse carved nearby on the churchyard wall.

To return to Hutton-le-Hole take the path signed to the right of the church gate. This soon drops below the churchyard. In 200 yards turn sharp right down the track to Gillamoor Mill, closed in 1895, but mentioned in records as  early as the 12th century. Beyond the bridge over the Dove the path heads towards Grouse Hall but turns right one field short. Head for the far end of a small wood where you cross a beck and climb half a dozen steps to a green lane.

Turn left for some 20 paces to where the path branches off right. Keeping Shepherd's Nab on the right continue over open moorland for some 250 yards to a gate. A narrow path descends from here along a wall side into Hutton-le-Hole.


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