North Yorkshire Walk - Hackness and Whisperdale

Enjoy the woodland and field paths of this charming North Yorkshire walk. Terry Fletcher is your guide Photograph by Mike Kipling


Start/Finish: Hackness

Distance: 7 miles/11km

Time: Three hours

Terrain: Woodland and field path with a little walking on quiet lanes

Map: OS OL27 North York Moors (Eastern Area)

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Refreshments: None on the route

Tucked away among the wooded hills behind Scarborough is a wealth of wonderful walking country that seems a world – and sometimes centuries - away from the candyfloss and razzmatazz of our premier seaside resort.

A half day spent among its peaceful charms can make for a delightfully tranquil escape when the coastal crowds get too much. This walk sets off from the picturesque village of Hackness, dominated by the spire of its historic church, and ends with a descent of Whisper Dales, a valley which proves every bit as enchanting as its name.


Start in the centre of the village where there is parking for several cars in a roadside lay-by opposite the school and St Peter’s Church. The church, which was mentioned by the Venerable Bede and has links to St Hilda, Abbess of Whitby, has an Anglo Saxon chancel arch and cross shaft and 15th century carved choir stalls.

Take a narrow lane heading uphill and signed to Silpho. It zigzags steeply up the hillside and on the fourth bend, a sharp left-hander, take a footpath on the right leading into Hilda Wood.

Thankfully, here the angle eases considerably though the track continues to climb steadily through the mixed woodland. Leave the trees by a kissing gate and carry on straight ahead through a pasture. At the top of this field, just beyond a slight dog leg in the accompanying wall, a gate is reached. Don’t go through it but instead climb the short, sharp slope on the right to cross a stile and after 50 yards take a stile on the left signposted to the intriguingly-named Turkey Carpet, which proves to be an area of woodland further along the route.

At the second of two large fields the path jinks first left then right around the edge of a large meadow to reach a road. Turn right and, ignoring a road on the left, carry on straight ahead to the T-junction. Turn right along the broad grass verge for 200 yards and then take the bridleway on the left which dives into the woods. This section is justifiably popular with horse riders so keep an ear cocked for their approach.

After just a few paces at a crossroads of tracks turn left along the pleasant bridleway through the trees to eventually emerge at a crossroads. Do not cross the larger road but instead cross the side road and continue into the trees along the signed bridleway. This quickly forks and either variation can be taken but the right hand one is probably the more enjoyable as it stays further away from the road.

Where the trees on the right thin out there are wide views steeply down into Harwood Dale and across to the coast, including Scarborough with its distinctive castle perched on the headland between the north and south bays. The track emerges at Reasty Hill car park, where a handily-placed seat overlooking the dale below makes a fine spot for a mid-way break and butty stop.

Cross the road to the opposite car park and take the hardened forest road heading away at right angles from the road into the trees. Ignoring all diversions to right and left, the road soon begins to descend and as it leaves the trees behind the Whisper Dales open up ahead winding invitingly downhill through pastures and copses. At the bottom of the hill by the gates of a house go through a metal gate to follow the signed bridleway straight ahead. Where a track forks off rightwards across the field take this down to a waymarked gate in the corner, continuing to follow the beck downstream.

Eventually the track reaches a group of attractive cottages and a brace of fords and footbridges. Just after the last cottage on the left take a stile to follow a short field path parallel to the lane. This only last for a couple of fields before rejoining the tarmac but can be very useful to avoid this section of the lane which is prone to flooding after rain. It emerges at a footbridge and ford from where the virtually traffic free lane leads unerringly back to Hackness, arriving almost exactly back at the parking lay-by.

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