North York Moors Walk - Hutton-le-Hole
- Credit: Alamy Stock Photo
Terry Fletcher follows field paths, forest roads and quiet lanes on this lovely Ryedale walk
Hutton-le-Hole is a quite preposterously pretty village, even by the high standards of the North York Moors National Park. Cottages of golden stone, capped by red-tiled roofs, enclose a rambling, hummocky village green, split by a tumbling beck. It is scene that seems almost too picturesque to be real and is at its very best in early spring. Small wonder it is one of the park’s most popular villages with visitors and picnickers.
Among its most popular attractions is the Ryedale Folk Museum where 13 houses and agricultural buildings, including one from the Iron Age and an Elizabethan manor house, have been collected and re-built brick-by-brick on the site. This walk sets off from the museum and takes in the charming valley of the River Dove before calling in on another charming community at Gillamoor before making its way back to the start.
1. Leave the village by walking southwards along the main street towards Kirkbymoorside. As the road reaches the last houses take a narrow lane heading off leftwards uphill. Eventually it becomes concreted and then, just after passing a farmhouse on the left, look out for a stile and footpath sign on the right. This leads through a narrow strip of woodland to another stile. Go steeply downhill and curl rightwards round the wood to find a footbridge in the bottom right-hand corner of the field. Cross this and climb diagonally through the woods on the opposite bank. At the top of the hill, where it meets a broader track, turn right and a few yards further on take a gate on the right which leads quickly to the Kirkbymoorside road. Cross carefully and turn left to pass a free car park, which makes an alternative start for those who dislike paying to park their cars.
2. Cross a cattle grid and take a rough lane on the right 100 yards further on signed to Douthwaite Dale Only and follow it downhill until it reaches a ford and weir with a footbridge over the River Dove. Cross this and turn left along the continuation of the road, passing a picturesquely-situated cottage, and begin to climb out of the valley. It passes dilapidated buildings before reaching a T-junction. Here turn right, following signs to Low Park and High Park.
3. After a short half mile at a sharp left hand bend leave the tarmac to follow an unmade farm road leading straight on. There are open fields to the left while to the right is a steep wooded bank liberally decorated with ‘Private’ signs. However, after about 500 yards, on a slight left hand bend, a bridleway leads off rightwards into the woods. This is the Shepherd’s Road, which drops through the mixed woodland with the occasional bridleway sign to keep you on the straight and narrow. As it reaches the valley bottom turn left up a forestry road heading up the valley. This continues more or less along the valley bottom, first in woodland and then through pastures until, just after passing a three way junction with a footpath, it reaches a gate and begins to climb through woods.
When the track leaves the woods at a gate turn left along the field edge and across fields to a lane. Turn right along this to enter Gillamoor village. At the village pub turn right and go along the main street towards the tiny 19th century church of St Aidan, passing an eye-catching elaborate sundial dating from 1800 on the left.
4. The return path to Hutton descends to the right of the church but first it is worth taking a few steps further along the road for a breathtaking panorama across the valley. The path curls round the church and at the bottom of the slope turn sharp right on another lane, signed Tabular Hills Path This long-distance link was created to convert the horseshoe-shaped Cleveland Way into a circuit. The path passes a restored mill and then crosses a footbridge before climbing up the opposite flank of the dale. The path takes a diagonal line across fields to the right of the farm buildings to reach a footbridge in the top right hand corner. Cross this to reach a broad farm track. Turn left for a few steps before leaving it for a much narrower footpath branching off rightwards up a bank through the bracken. Where it joins a wider track turn firstly left and shortly afterwards fork right, following waymarkers. As the path approaches an isolated house look out for a waymarked gate on the right. Go through this and down an enclosed way leading back to Hutton-le-Hole which is now visible ahead.
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Height gain: 800ft/245m
Terrain: Field paths, forest roads and quiet lanes
Time: 3-4 hours
Parking: Pay and display in Hutton-le-Hole, free car park along the way.
Refreshments: Pub and cafés in Hutton-le-Hole, pub at Gillamoor
Maps: OS OL26 North York Moors Western Area