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Lealholm along the northern slopes of Eskdale to Glaisdale

This 6 mile walk explores the northern slopes of Eskdale between Lealholm and Carr End. The return leg follows the Esk Valley Walk along the wooded scenery of the valley floor where the juxtaposition of the river to ancient pathways, present day road links and the railway is constantly rewarding.

Distance: 6 miles

Time: 4 hours

Grade: easy

Conditions: well signed rights of way, one steep climb from Lealholm

Refreshments: Lealholm, Carr End

OS Explorer Map OL27

Originally published: 1 December 2017

The car park by Lealholm Bridge is our starting point (GR 763076). Leave the village's many charms and cafes till your return and head up the steep road signed to Whitby. This passes two churches and crosses the Esk Valley Line after which look out for the stone causeway or trod on the left, still in use as a pavement after at least three centuries of wear. It was used as a major connection between the fishing port of Staithes and its markets across the moors.

About half a mile from the bridge turn right  by a postbox on to Rake Lane which links the houses of Lealholm Side and offers spectacular views of Eskdale, from Castleton on its ridge and Danby Castle away to the right, to Glaisdale way below on the left. Beyond the valley stretch the limitless moors.

Follow the lane which drops gently for about half a mile. A few yards after it starts to climb out of a little valley, look out for a bridleway sign on the left. The right of way leaves the lane some half dozen paces before the sign and climbs to a ridge which shelters Hill House Farm on the right. It then joins a tarred access lane where go right to reach Hall Park Farm.

The bridleway goes right, in front of the farmhouse and down across two fields and over the trackbed of what was planned as a railway to bring ironstone from the mines of East Cleveland to the ironworks which had opened in Glaisdale in 1866. Nicknamed the Paddy Waddell Railway after its civil engineer, it was beset by financial problems and was never completed. We shall come across more signs of it on our return leg.

The bridleway now crosses Stonegate Beck and climbs to Thornhill Farm through trees where there are vestiges of another trod. Continue beyond the farm to Bank Lane where we turn left.

In some 200 yards go right. Just before Westonby Farm take a footpath through a gate on the right. The path follows the hedge line round to the right and continues on to a ridge with outstanding views ahead into Glaisdale. The path then descends through trees to Church Dale Farm. Continue down to a tarred lane where turn left. Through trees the almost traffic free lane soon drops to the riverside where a dipper skimmed the waters when I passed by. 

Beyond the foot of the fearsome Limber Hill (one of the steepest in the county) is Beggar's Bridge,  one of the dale's finest packhorse bridges. It was built in 1619 by Thomas Ferris whose initials are to be found on the parapet. Many years earlier the penniless Ferris used to ford the Esk here to visit his girlfriend Agnes Richardson. So Ferris went off to sea, made his fortune and returned to marry Agnes. They went to live in Hull where he became mayor. He had the bridge built so that others could cross dry shod.

From the bridge go under the railway arch and follow the road round past Glaisdale station to the Arncliffe Arms in Carr End. You could shorten the walk here by two miles by returning by train to Lealholm. Alternatively Bus 99 runs four times a day to Lealholm and Lealholm Side (not Sundays).

I've also mapped an alternative from the road. Go under the arch and ahead over the footbridge by the ford over Glaisdale Beck. Then turn right to recross the beck and climb up to the inn.The houses at Carr End were built for ironworkers in Glaisdale's industrial heyday in the second half of the 19th century.

Take the lane opposite the Arncliffe Arms. For 200 yards it runs alongside the Esk. A private bridge leads to the site of the ironworks which operated from 1866 to 1871. In the field on the left is the brick built, now derelict, explosives magazine. The mounds in the same field are all that is left of the closest of a number of mines which fed the works.

The lane now climbs through Glaisdale's houses, scattered picturesquely down the hillside. Beyond a sharp bend (with a seat), a handrail has been provided to overcome the gradient. Where it ends go right into Miller's Wood on a track which drops steeply through the trees to the river where it flows through a deep gorge. Here is the former Glaisdale High Mill, a cornmill of the late 18th century with a still extant undershot wheel.

Beyond the mill go right at a fork in the path and continue along the riverside and over two fields to cross the railway. In the next field the water filled ditch on the left and the handsome bridge ahead which appears to have no function, are further relics of the Paddy Waddell Railway. When you climb the steps to the bridge embankment Rake Farm appears suddenly in front of you, an elegant house of 1749, used as an inn when the railway was being constructed. We now go left over the two railway bridges and then right at Rake Cottage. The track drops to a paved ford with footbridge.Cross it and turn left close to the river bank, continuing for a quarter of a mile to just before another railway bridge. The path continues across one field to Underpark Farm, named for a medieval deer park which served the nearby Lealholm Hall.

The final half mile is along the farm access track, a pleasant stroll through riverside fields.


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