"This is one of those pretty villages that is an instant delight to the eye". AH Brown's description of Hutton Rudby in his 'Fair North Riding' is still appropriate 62 years later. It's in two parts with the Viking settlement of Rudby on a hill to the north of the River Leven and the Anglo-Saxon Hutton or 'high town' which climbs up a low ridge on the south bank.
Distance: Just over 5 miles
Time: 3 hours
Conditions: well signed field paths and bridleways. There may be mud after rain.
Refreshments: Hutton Rudby, Crathorne
OS Explorer Map OL26
Originally published: January 2015
Close by the graceful bridge of 1755 which links the two settlements is the church, worth a visit for its monuments to the Cary family of Skutterskelfe Hall, for the effigy of a 14th century priest and for its Elizabethan pulpit, with its marquetry (including the name of the benefactor Thomans Milner), described by Pevsner as 'a delightful and precious piece'. Adjacent to the church on the west side is the Bathurst Charity School, built in 1740 by Charles Bathurst for girls and boys.
Our 5 mile easy walk starts from the bridge (GR 473066). On the south bank take the footpath signed upstream. It crosses the site of the village's mill. Originally a corn mill it produced paper between 1757 and 1830 before being converted to making sailcloth for the Royal Navy. It closed in 1908 as demand contracted.
In 100 yards the path climbs away from the river bank and at the top you should fork left to enter the village half way along the village green. The avenue of trees was planted in 1878 to enhance this most attractive open space, possibly inspired by a similar line of trees planted in Stokesley a few years earlier.
Turn right along North Side past the Methodist chapel and the King's Head, one of the village's three pubs. Then turn right by the post office down North End, another wide street with its own green. No 24 is a good example of a weaver's cottage complete with Yorkshire 'sliding sash' window. In 200 yards go left up North Field continuing past a barrier to through traffic and into Hundale Road. On the first corner a footpath leads off to the right.
A delightful stretch of nearly two miles follows, across fields and, in places, high above the Leven. In the first field head well to the right of a power pole to the far end where a couple of stiles takes the walker across a grassy track. The path then follows a fence on the left and after another stile heads out into a large arable field. Aim for a prominent lone tree which soon appears in view. The path crosses another grassy track to the left of the tree before bearing right over the same large field to reach the wooded bank above the river. Turn left.
From here the path stays above the river valley with glimpses right, across to Crathorne Hall. It is well signed into Jamie Wood where much work has been done on the right of way. Sturdy wooden steps take you into and out of a tiny dene and the little stream is crossed by an imposing footbridge. Beyond the wood the road between Hutton Rudby and Crathorne is soon reached. Turn right.
Crathorne is some 500 yards away and after a right bend in the road you can cut a corner by taking a footpath over a stile on the left directly on to the village street.
If you are looking for a picnic bench turn left past the Catholic church of 1821 to the community area. The Crathorne Arms and the Crathorne Hall Hotel are beyond the area up what was once the A 19. An old milestone (Thirsk 16, Yarm 4 and London 236) emphasises the road's past importance.
Our walk now returns along the village street to the parish church. It may be locked but inside the porch is evidence of medieval recycling - a Viking 'hogback' gravestone has been used as the lintel for the south door.
We now follow the lane signed to High Foxton in front of the church. It drops steeply to cross the Leven. Beyond the bridge continue ahead to Mill House, the successor to a corn mill mentioned on the site as early as the 12th century.
From the buildings a bridleway is signed left, uphill, through two gates and out on to open farmland. There are good views to the right across the Cleveland Plain to the hills. After a mile the track is bordered by hedges and may be muddy but there are grass verges on the other side of the hedges which make it easy going to Blue Barn Farm.
As soon as you join the farm's access lane look out on the right for a well used path which drops through thick woods to the Leven. A pleasant riverside walk follows and links with a concrete track which then climbs over a little cliff before returning to the starting point.