North York Moors walk - Hawnby
- Credit: Archant
There are good paths and tracks but a high ridge to climb on this lovely moorland walk
The village of Hawnby, tucked away in Ryedale goes back a long way. It was already old when the Normans arrived and built All Saints’ Church as they took control of England. Much of what can be seen in the building today dates from the 15th century though the Victorian ‘improvers’ also had a go at modernising it. It was also badly damaged by the Great Flood of 2005 when a month’s rain fell on the surrounding moors in less than three hours.
Not that the Anglican authorities had things all their own way. The village has also had a Methodist chapel since 1770 when John Wesley visited and pronounced the area ‘one of the pleasantest parts of England’. After doing this walk you may just agree with him.
It starts from All Saints on the western side of the village, where there is roadside parking for a few cars. With your back to the church turn right along the narrow lane towards Hawnby. Where the lane enters the village at a T-junction go straight across taking a signposted-path heading away across the field to a gate on the other side. Ahead and to the left are the slopes of Easterside Hill around which the walk goes.
Go through a steel gate and carry on to leave the next field by a footbridge over a small stream. Cross this and turn half left up the field making initially towards the side of a wood. The path then re-crosses the stream to enter the wood by a stile. Carry on through the trees, now on a clearer path to another stile and then up to pass the buildings of Easterside Farm on their left. Turn right along the lane, passing the access track to Wass House and 250 yards further on look for a stile and footpath sign half hidden in the hedgerow on the right. Cross this, staying high on the banking, which does require a little bushwhacking through bracken, to quickly reach a stile which is crossed followed almost immediately by another down to the right. Drop down the field to a signpost pointing leftwards up the valley. Follow this around the edge of the field to a metal gate in the bottom right hand corner. Go through this and immediately turn left to follow the fence as it contours round the head of the valley, at first on a faint path which soon becomes much better defined to pass below an abandoned house before reaching a stile onto the lane.
Turn left along the lane for about 100 yards and keep an eye out for a discreet set of wooden steps set into the banking on the right which lead through the hedgerow and bracken onto the open moor. Cross a stile and climb the track to the right of a drystone wall, which is followed with the slender needle of the Bilsdale television transmitter in front and the slopes of Easterside Hill above. Carry on along the wall until it passes the end of the hill to reach a gate with a bridleway sign. Ignore this but carry on down beside the wall on a narrow path through the heather. The path finally leaves the open moor at a gate beside a ruined farmstead. Go through this and straight ahead for a few paces to reach a broad track which angles rightwards down the hillside before dropping into the trees to a footbridge across the steam.
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Despite the broad path on this side and the substantial footbridge, the opposite side is virtually trackless and the waymarking on the next section leaves much to be desired.
From the bridge, cross a muddy stream on the right to a field. Climb up this until a rough path cuts leftwards through a bedraggled hedgerow and follow this to a gate in the top hedge. Go through this and on a path ahead which bypasses the buildings of Sportsman’s Hall away to your right. Go through a gate in the corner and cross to the access track of the hall – in fact a farmhouse - which leads to a small parking area at Moor Gate.
From the road crossing at Moor Gate take the obvious track which begins to climb the ridge of Hawnby Hill. The steep climb rewards you with the very rare experience in this part of the world of a sharply-defined ridge with the ground dropping away steeply on either side. The track passes a neat conical cairn before beginning an ever-steepening descent to Hawnby, arriving in the village just by the pub.
Take the path along the lane to the right of the pub and follow it down to the next junction. Here turn left and follow the lane back to the church.
Start/finish: All Saints’ Church, Hawnby
Time: 3-4 hours
Terrain: Good paths and tracks, a high ridge to climb
Parking: Space for a few cars by All Saints’ Church
Refreshments: Pub in Hawnby
Map: OS OL 26 North York Moors (Western Area)