Esk Valley Walk - Glaisdale

Meander through the lush countryside of the Esk Valley. Terry Fletcher is your guide Photographs by Mike Kipling

The Esk Valley Railway running from Whitby to Middlesbrough is recognised as one of the most scenic in England and looking from the carriage window the train as it makes its stately progress along the single track, criss-crossing the placid river and meandering through the lush countryside it’s easy to see why. It’s also easy to appreciate why this quiet branch line is a gift for walkers looking for a change from relentless circular outings.

Riding between stations opens up a wealth of delectable walks through this gentle dale of picturesque farms and exquisite pubs and villages. This bucolic walk takes an eight mile route from Glaisdale down the valley to Sleights.Directions

Leave the train at Glaisdale station and walk a few yards downhill to pass beneath the railway bridge and admire the graceful arch of Beggar’s Bridge. According to local folklore it was built in the 17th century by Thomas Ferris, a young man who had been separated from his sweetheart by the river. He left to make his fortune - some say as a pirate - and when he returned he is said to have built the bridge to ensure no other lovers suffered the same fate.

From the bridge go back under the railway and take a footpath signed to Egton Bridge. Climb the stairs into the woods and at the top turn left to follow the Esk downstream. This is a delightful section of mature woodland and abundant bird life with the leisurely river just a few feet below. Soon the path becomes flagged with stones worn by the passing of countless feet. Follow it until it reaches a lane and there turn downhill to Egton Bridge.

As the road enters the village just beyond the Horseshoe Hotel, look out for a footpath sign on the left to Stepping Stones with the yellow arrow of the Esk Valley Walk. Follow this over two sets of well-used stones to a path which weaves between houses.

At the road turn right to a T-junction. Cross the road and pass between two stone gateposts taking the signposted route to Grosmont. The broad track makes easy walking through fields and passing occasional houses. Look out for a sign on the side of a house for Barnard’s Toll Road, showing the charges once levied for its use.

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When the path eventually emerges onto a road our route goes left. But if you wish to make a diversion to visit the North Yorkshire Moors steam railway at Grosmont turn right to cross the bridge to reach the station which the NYM Railway and the Esk Valley share. This is also a handy spot for a midway refreshment stop.

Back on the route follow the road leftwards for a hundred yards to a corner and take the road on the right signed for Sleights. It is followed past a housing estate and on for another few hundred yards until the road bears left uphill. Our route presses straight ahead along the bridleway leading to Grosmont Farm.

Pass through the farmyard with its flocks of ducks and geese and continue along the main track until it starts to rise and a slightly misplaced sign points into the woods. The actual track is another 30 yards up the hill where a gate leads into the woods and a narrow flagged way through the trees.

At a junction of paths continue uphill to where the path emerges into a field. Carry on straight ahead along the field edge to another gate and an enclosed way. Where it reaches the lane turn right and press on past the impressive Newbiggin Farm, still following the same general line through fields with wide views across the wooded valley before it enters a wood and then more fields, with the occasional signs and arrows of the Esk Valley Walk.

Where it emerges onto a Tarmac lane, turn right but after a few steps take a bridleway on the left which dives down into the trees. After about 30 yards take a signed footpath on the left which drops down a flight of stone stairs to a footbridge. Cross this and climb fields to reach another lane. Turn right and just before a line of cottages take a stile on the right signed Bridleway to Sleights. The flagged way eventually reaches another lane. Turn right downhill and follow it all the way to Sleights. At the main road turn right, cross the bridge and Sleights Station is down on the left.

Start: Glaisdale Station. Finish: Sleights There is parking at Station or you can reach the start by train from Middlesbrough or Whitby.

Length: 8 Miles/13 km. Time: Allow 3 � - 4 hours.

Map: OS Outdoor Leisure 27 North York Moors (Eastern).

Terrain: Wood and field paths and green lanes with short linking sections on quiet lanes.

Refreshments: Pubs and cafes at Egton Bridge, Grosmont and Sleights. Huge choice in Whitby.

Tip: If relying on the train to get home leave plenty of time as services are not frequent on this quiet line.