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Sheepwash, Oak Dale & Cod Beck reservoir

This 4½-mile circular walk uses the drove road above Osmotherley. It starts at the popular picnic spot of Sheepwash on the lane between Swainby and Osmotherley. Parking is available although the area can be very congested on fine summer Sundays.

Distance: 4.5 miles

Time: 2 to 3 hours

Grade: Easy with short, steep ascent from Sheepwash and a more gradual climb out of Oak Dale

Conditions: There are no stiles but the track from the OsmotherIey-

Ryedale road to Cod Beck reservoir can be muddy after rain.

Originally published: 11 August 2000

Take the track that climbs steeply from the watersplash. In the 18th and 19th centuries, this was one of the ancient drove roads which led from Scotland and Northern England to the markets of the South.

You are walking where thousands of cattle passed on their way from Yarm, then the lowest bridge over the Tees, and Scarth Nick, over Black Hambleton to Kilburn, Malton or York and even London.

After the first steep climb, the track flattens out and is joined in about three-quarters of a mile by the most recent of national routes, the national cycleway, coming in on the right from Swainby and Middlesbrough on its way to Easingwold and York.

ln another half mile you will join the tar road from Osmotherley into Ryedale with, on the left, the ruins of a folly known as Solomon's Temple, built by an eccentric, Solomon Metcalfe, in 1812. Little remains of the house whose walls were once decorated with images of the apostles and of the sun, moon and stars.

Follow this road left to reach the Chequers, an ancient droving inn where a welcome sign proclaims 'Be not in haste, Step in and taste, Good ale for nothing to-morrow'.

Cross the Slape Stones Beck in front of Chequers and turn immediately right on a footpath which affords widespread views over the Vale of Mowbray westwards towards the Pennines. Beyond a gate, the path drops steeply into the wooded valley of Oak Dale. At Oakdale Cottage turn right on to yet another modern route, the Cleveland Way.

Well signed with the acorn symbol of all Britain's national trails, it leads you uphill to the Osmotherley-Ryedale road. Turn left and then almost immediately right on to another track that climbs steadily.

After about 300 yds, the Cleveland Way turns off left but you should continue up a narrow rutted lane and through a gate at the top of the hill. Again, on a clear day magnificent views open up to the west with the red roofs of Osmotherley just a mile away. Pass a farm on the right and enter, through two gates, the wood which surrounds Cod Beck reservoir. Continue ahead on the same path for some 200 yds to join a stony track where you turn left downhill. You are following the national cycleway once more and in another half mile you come to Cod Beck reservoir, opened in 1953 to supply the surrounding area.

Permissive paths, created bv Yorkshire Water, give you a choice of attractive routes along the reservoir shores to the edge of the wood and the Sheepwash car parks beyond.


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