2016 Walk 7 – Goathland Moor


Goathland Station on the North York Moors Railway

It was my final day in Goathland and with a long bus trip planned for tomorrow I wanted to find a walk that didn’t require public transportation. I chose to head in the opposite direction from yesterday and began by taking the public footpath towards Abbots House. This is an old favourite that forms part of a short circular walk around the village. After passing through a handful of fields and a campground I turned left and followed the old rail line back to the village, past the cricket ground and exiting on the road near the Goathland Hotel. The groundskeeper was busy rolling the wicket for a Sunday afternoon fixture and I was tempted to hang around to watch but the weather was misty and cool, not the greatest for spectator or player.

I headed to the Goathland train station to have a look around. I didn’t ride the North York Moors Railway this trip but I have enjoyed the steam train on previous visits. The station and the village of Goathland will be familiar to viewers of “Heartbeat“, a British TV programme that was extremely popular for the better part of two decades. It still attracts visitors today despite the series having ended in 2009.

I used the footbridge to cross over the tracks to the other platform and then followed a footpath behind the station that led up to the moor. The trail passed a reservoir and continued to climb to the main road that leads into Goathland. The path was mucky in spots and the temperature continued to drop as the wind intensified. I followed this minor road for a good mile, not the highlight of the day as it was exposed to both the wind and the holiday traffic. I joined a track that led to an old quarry at which point the moor really opened out in front of me. The vista wasn’t spectacular but it certainly was atmospheric with the mists rolling across it.

Stone markers from 1784

Stone markers from 1784

My mid-90’s Ordnance Survey map showed a large forest on the horizon but there has been considerable logging since then. Fortunately the power pylons are exactly where they were two decades ago and so I was able to track my progress. I was looking to link up with a bridleway through the heather and noticed a pair of old stone markers from the 1784 Sneaton Liberty Assizes. There were no clear signs of a bridleway but a closer look revealed a broken bridleway marker lying in the heather. I carried on down a soggy sheep trail towards the corner of a what used to be a forest and then linked up with a dirt track that was more or less going in the direction I wanted. It followed the contours of a hill and slowly began to descend through fields filled with sheep and a herd of cattle that included a bull.

I carried on for another mile or two and had been walking away from Goathland for a good 2.5 hours. With the weather deteriorating I decided it was time to plot a route back. I decided to backtrack a short distance and to look for a bridleway that would provide an alternate route back to the main road. I spotted the bridleway sign pointing through the middle of a field that disappeared up and over the horizon. I marched off in the general direction, through long grass and grazing sheep, looking for a gate. I couldn’t see one so I did what I normally do in these situations and made for the fence and followed it until I came to the gate. I was now back on a dirt track which passed through several stone enclosures and fields. I soon realized the track was going to merge with the power lines which meant I had missed my turn. I could tell from my maps that I was meant to cross the power lines near a pylon at the top of a small hill and so I replotted my course towards what looked to be a likely candidate.

Beck Hole

Beck Hole

Before long I was back on a track leading to the busy main road which I followed for ten minutes before rejoining the minor road I had followed this morning. I wasn’t on it for long though as I headed down an even quieter road signposted for Beck Hole and Greenlands Farm. I’d never been on this road before although I did cross it when I walked to Whitby earlier in the week. The scenery was lovely, all the more so when the road descended towards Beck Hole and then through the tiny hamlet.

It was bank holiday Sunday and so the Birch Hall Inn was packed with walkers and day trippers. It was my final visit to the pub and so I shoe-horned myself into the public bar with at least 18 others and 5 dogs. I supped my pint of Black Sheep and soaked up the atmosphere one last time.

2016 Walk 4 – Goathland to Whitby


One of many painted bikes I encountered in Eskdale

When I awoke on my second day in Goathland I had yet to decide where today’s walk would be although I had several routes in mind. Initially I’d thought of revisiting the Roman road atop Wheeldale moor however the low clouds and mist prompted me to choose a lower route. After consulting my 20-year old Ordnance Survey maps I decided to walk to Sleights and then return along Eskdale to Grosmont and back to Goathland.


NYMR steam train heading to Grosmont

I headed out on the quiet road to Darnholme where I descended, crossed a ford and then climbed up onto the moor. As I reached the top I heard the whistle from a North York Moors Railway steam train on its way to Grosmont and was just in time to snap a photo. I carried on across the moor which was fairly boggy in spots from yesterday’s rain. The rights of way on my old maps seemed slightly out of date but I managed to find my way using more permanent landmarks such as farms and roads.

After half a mile I crossed the road heading down to Beck Hole and carried on along a track which skirted Arundel Hill and led to Greenlands Farm. The valley views were excellent but required a steep descent down a slippery slope where I crossed a beck and then headed straight back up the other side. A distinct footpath was difficult to find but there were at least a dozen sheep trails to choose from and so up I went. I stayed close to the drystone wall and eventually spotted a track where a local farmer in a Range Rover was tending to his flock.


Whitby and Whitby Abbey on the horizon

I carried on up the track where I was rewarded with my first distant views of Whitby and the North Sea coast. I crossed a road and continued on past a working quarry. I knew I had to begin my descent into Eskdale and was walking along the fence looking for a gate when I heard the disheartening sound of Gortex Paclite ripping apart. In the space of one week I had broken my $200+ shoes and torn my $200 jacket on a piece of barbed wire. I soon found the way through the fence and began a very steep descent littered with muddy patches and carefully chosen expletives. The combination of mud, the angle of descent and a field of curious young steers soon had me concentrating on the task at hand and not on my rapidly deteriorating kit. I soon emerged onto a minor road that led to the main road into Sleights.

While munching on a Cheese and Onion roll I decided to alter my route and walk to Whitby where I could find something to repair my jacket with. Whitby was only four miles away and so I would have plenty of time to complete the walk, sort out my jacket and find a way back to Goathland. The path out of Sleights started near the railway station and then climbed up and along the southern edge of Eskdale. Prior to arriving in Ruswarp the footpath descended to cross the railway track and carried on along lanes, a road and finally a bridge.

A sign-posted flagged path led from the village through an alley towards Whitby a mile away. My troublesome knee had been behaving itself all day but locked up on the final climb and descent into town. The knee soon sorted itself out and after investigating my options for returning to Goathland I began my search for a means of repairing my jacket. In the end, in true Red Green style, I settled for black duct tape and it seems to have done the trick.

I decided to take the train back to Grosmont and unknowingly opted for the late afternoon service which doubled as a school bus. I needn’t have bought a ticket because the driver and conductor locked themselves away and let the students run riot. They occupied most of the seats in both cars, that is of course when they actually sat down. Most of the time they moved about socializing, playing jokes on each other and eating. One girl had brought a tin of biscuits which was quickly emptied by the steady stream of kids walking past. It was a noisy journey but very entertaining.

Once deposited in Grosmont I followed the rail trail for two miles past the train sheds and on to Beck Hole. Not surprisingly the Birch Hall Inn reeled me in without much of a struggle but after a pint I carried on to Goathland and called it a day.