Some 4 miles north of Roseberry Topping the sandstone Eston Hills provide spectacular views over Teesside. Once the heartland of Cleveland iron mining they are now well known for extensive outdoor activities. Eston Nab, the 800ft summit, makes an eminent target for this 8 and a half mile walk.
We start from the car park for the Guisborough Branch Walkway Nature Reserve on the A 173, the Guisborough to Great Ayton road, (GR 584153). The railway, from Middlesbrough to Guisborough, operated between 1853 and 1964. Pinchinthorpe had its own station and some of the original buildings are used as a popular visitor centre.
Distance: 8.5 miles
Time: 5 hours
Conditions: well marked field paths, one short climb from the Cross Keys
Refreshments: Pinchinthorpe Visitor Centre, Cross Keys
OS Explorer Map OL26
Originally published: 8 January 2010
Our route follows the hard surface trackbed under the road westwards with Roseberry Topping soon in sight a mile or so away to the left. After about a mile go right on a path signed to Eston Nab, part of the Tees Link between the Cleveland Way and the Teesdale Way.
Our path heads for the Eston Hills and after two fields crosses the A 171, the busy dual carriageway between Guisborough and Middlesbrough. On the far side take a path to the right of the Cross Keys and almost immediately you will climb over the embankment of the former Cleveland Railway, opened in 1860 which served the iron mines on the hills' southern slopes.
There are hints of cobblestones on the short, steep climb by the edge of Clapham's Wood and a farm track is then crossed before the path reaches Eston Moor. Look back for expansive views over to the North York Moors.
Go ahead on a track across the heather moor with the masts on Eston Nab now readily visible less than half a mile away. In some 500 yards you join a prominent path coming in from the left before the final easy ascent to the top.
From the edge of the rocky outcrop which gives its name to the Nab the extensive views over the lower Tees valley, Teesmouth and Hartlepool Bay explain why the site has had a prominent role over the centuries. The double banks and ditches of a semicircular 2000 year old Iron Age hill fort crown the summit. Close to the masts but within the fort are a trig point, and a little tower, created from the ruins of a beacon built as a lookout in the Napoleonic wars and used in both world wars. At the end of the 19th century Easter and Whitsun fairs used to be held on the Nab which was covered in roundabouts and side shows. Intriguing too is that in the period immediately before the widespread use of the telephone the man who recorded the level of the water in the reservoir on the moors near Guisborough climbed to the Nab each day and used semaphore flags to signal the reading to an official equipped with a telescope at the Water Board office way down in South Bank.
From the beacon retrace your steps to the junction mentioned above and continue along the prominent path past Carr's Pond. After a gate the path drops down for 300 yards to a stile. Beyond, go ahead only 20 paces and then turn right on the Tees Link down concrete steps to Flatts Lane. Turn right down the busy road and in a few yards, just past Rose Cottage, cross the road into Flatts Lane Woodland Country Park to a convenient seat at the top of a grassy slope. The car park at the bottom was built on the site of the Normanby brickworks which itself had been built on the Normanby iron mine which closed in 1898.
Our walk continues along the hard core path to the left of the seat. In some 250 yards, at the first junction, turn right along the path signed to Nunthorpe which in about three quarters of a mile will bring you to the top of Ormesby Bank. Turn left here along the A 171 for the short distance to the roundabout at Swan's Corner.
From Swan's Corner walk down Guisborough Road past Nunthorpe School and then left along the length of Cortland Road which bends to the right to St. Mary's Church Hall. From here a path goes left to the Nunthorpe bypass, the A 1043. Go straight over to a rough track which in 300 yards is crossed by the Middlesbrough to Whitby railway.
At the first junction turn left on to a track which soon runs parallel with the railway. Where it turns sharp right down to Morton Grange go straight ahead over a stile. The path now runs by the railway for two fields where the ridges and furrows of a medieval open field system are very evident.
Cross the line at a level crossing and continue ahead for one field to the first path signed to the left. In some 200 yards this returns you to the Guisborough Branch Walkway and an easy two mile amble back to Pinchinthorpe.