This 9 mile walk (4.5 miles if the train or bus is taken) in beautiful mid-Eskdale at first follows the valley side with enchanting, constantly changing views. The return is along the riverside where the surroundings are more intimate yet just as harmonious.
The car park by Lealholm Bridge is our starting point. Resisting the village's many charms you should head up the steep road to Whitby, past two churches and over the railway line.
Distance: 9 miles, halved if the train is taken from Egton
Time: 5 hours
Conditions: good, with one half mile climb
Refreshments: Lealholm, Egton Bridge, Carr End
OS Explorer Map OL27
Originally published: 21 September 2007
In about 300 yards look out for the stone causeway or trod, still in use as the pavement after at least two centuries of wear. About half a mile from the bridge turn right by a post box on to Rake Lane which links the houses of Lealholmside and offers spectacular vistas of Eskdale, from Castleton and Danby Castle away to the right to Glaisdale on its ridge below on the left. Beyond the valley stretch the limitless moors.
Follow the lane for over half a mile to a footpath left up the drive to Hill House Farm. Leaving the buildings on the right head for a stile on the left in a corner, and turn right on to a bridleway. (The bridleway comes up from the left from Rake Lane but was impassable when I tried it). Our route continues high above a dry ravine to a lane, where go right down to Hall Park Farm.
We now go right down across two fields and over the trackbed of what was planned as a railway line 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 path now enters a wood, crosses Stonegate Beck and climbs to Thornhill Farm. Continue along the farm track to a tarred lane where turn left. In 200 yards go right to Westonby Farm. Pass in front of the house and out on to a large field. Some 200 yards from the farm look out for a stile on the right. After a second stile go left parallel to the posts of a former fence.
The way now descends through bracken to a tiny clapper bridge over Laverick Dale Beck. On the far side it climbs Church Cliff as a trod to the ancient cemetery of Egton. Here once stood the church built in Norman times but replaced by a new one nearer to Egton in 1878. Today it has a mortuary chapel and a fine array of headstones of the high quality sandstone for which the area is famous.
Of course most churches were well served by access paths and an exceptional one was built to connect the old church with Egton Bridge. Go down the lane from the chapel and turn left on the road towards Egton which is bordered by a trod. After 200 yards go right over a stile and down over pastureland for a mile to Egton Bridge. Beneath the turf lies a continuous causeway, easily recognisable and awaiting restoration. As you walk this way spare a thought for the many parishioners who must have used it in order to worship on the hilltop.
The path reaches the valley floor at Lelum Hall. Go left to Egton Bridge Station where there are 4 trains a day to Lealholm, (not on Sundays in winter), if you wish to halve the length of the walk.
The best, though, is still to come. Turn right at The Postgate, named for the Catholic martyr Nicholas Postgate, born near here in 1598. Continue to the impressive bridge over the Esk, recently rebuilt after floods by the county in local stone in the style of the original bridge of 1758. For the next two miles we follow Wainwright's Coast to Coast walk. Go past the Horseshoe Hotel for about half a mile along a narrow lane again bordered by a grass grown trod. After a short, sharp climb we leave the lane by going right into East Arnecliff Wood. This is a delightful stretch past a former quarry and then along a well used causeway. The Esk can be heard far below, rushing noisily on its way to quieter waters.
At the end you descend to a valley pinch point of four bridges and a ford. If you wish to visit Beggar's Bridge, a fine packhorse bridge of 1619, then go down to the footbridge over Glaisdale Beck and under the railway arch. Rejoin our route by following the road past the station to the Arncliffe Arms. The direct way to the pub is to turn left on to the lane coming up from the ford and then almost immediately right on a path which crosses Glaisdale Beck before a short climb.
Our walk now follows the narrow lane opposite the pub. Look out on the left in about 200 yards for the fine but now derelict brick built explosives magazine, the only relic of the Glaisdale Ironworks which operated on the other side of the river from 1866 to 1871. The mounds in the same field as the magazine are all that is left of the mine 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 help overcome the gradient. Where it ends go right, into Millers Wood on a track which drops steeply through the trees to 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 upstream along the riverside and then over two fields to re-cross the railway. In the next field the water filled ditch on your 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 next stile Rake Farm appears suddenly in front of you, an elegant house of 1749, used as an inn during the period of the railway construction work.
We now go left over the two railway bridges and then right at Rake Cottage. The track drops to an ancient paved ford with footbridge. Cross it and go left, close to the river bank, continuing left in a quarter of a mile just before another railway bridge. The path now crosses a 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 amble through fields close to the river.