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 The rights of way on my old maps seemed slightly out of date but I managed to find my way using more permanent landmarks such as farms and roads.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.