Yorkshire Walk - West Ayton, Scarborough
- Credit: Archant
Turn your back on the beach and explore Scarborough’s secret countryside instead
A walk from Scarborough will usually involve a breezy, bracing stretch along the clifftops, watching the North Sea hurling itself at the castle headland and gulls soaring over the waves. But our most famous seaside playground has another, more secret face. It is one familiar to residents but usually overlooked by the millions of visitors who head for the beaches. The North York Moors National Park comes right up to the town’s back doorstep and within minutes of leaving the centre you can be in wonderful countryside. Locals know that when the town is bursting with visitors it’s time to head for Raincliffe Woods or Forge Valley. This walk starts from the twin villages of East and West Ayton a few miles inland and explores both these beauty spots beloved by generations of Scarborough families and knowledgeable visitors.
From the western side of Ayton’s twin bridges carrying the A170 from Pickering across the Derwent, turn right into Yedmandale Road and take the second turning on the right, signed to Forge Valley. Where the road ends the path leads through a gate and crosses fields, passing the isolated ruin of the 14th century Ayton Castle whose ramparts were later plundered for stone to build the bridge between the villages. The path drops down towards the river and at the foot of the slope turns left to follow the track downstream. This section, which is partly boardwalked, is a delight at any time of year and a paradise for botanists and birdwatchers alike with the busy A170 already forgotten and its din replaced by birdsong.
When the path reaches a footbridge across the river go over this and through the car park to the road. Turn left for about 50 yards before taking a signposted but overgrown footpath up the bank on the right. The path – the hardest part of the walk - climbs steeply, clambering over a couple of fallen trees and crossing a stream. Fortunately this obstacle course is mercifully brief and soon reaches a couple of cross tracks, one a few feet above the other. Take the higher one leading away leftwards and at a junction carry on straight ahead as the path drops down to the car park at Green Gate, which marks the boundary between the valley and the woods, which were once part of the estate of the Earl of Lonsborough.
Go through this and cross the road to take a short track through the woods and reach a lane in 100 yards. Turn right along this for a quarter of a mile passing cottages to reach the access track to Thorn Park Farm. Turn right along this as it weaves past the farm and an adjoining cottage and onwards to pass fields until it comes to a fork. Here take the right hand branch, marked with a blue arrow, beside more fields before turning up to meet the road. Go straight across to take another woodland track which runs leftwards, parallel with the road to a second car park.
Leave this by a gate in its top left hand corner and follow the track uphill until it bends sharply rightwards. Here carry on straight directly up the slope on a lesser path until it reaches a broad track coming across the slope. Turn left along this to leave the woods for a more open section. Follow the track for more than half a mile until it takes a sharp right hand bend uphill. Ignore this and instead take another narrower track going straight on, at first climbing a little before dropping down to the pond of Throxenby Mere, a delightful sheet of water that makes an ideal half way refreshment stop with handy felled trees to sit on.
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Leave the Mere by the same path at the start of the boardwalk by which you arrived but this time keep climbing, always taking the uphill option at any junction until you reach the very top of the woods bordered by a vast field. Here turn right for the start of a mile and half (2.5km) section following the fringe of the wood.
When the path reaches a metal gate with a public bridleway sign go through this and head off across the fields, following a wall. This skirts the handsome buildings of Osborne Lodge to a T-junction with a path. Turn left along this, resuming the woodland track now high above Forge Valley. Eventually the path drops down a gully leading down to the car park at Wallis Quarry. Turn left and soon a track on the other side of the road allows you to follow the riverbank until it is forced up a flight of steps and the road into East Ayton.
Start/finish: West Ayton
Distance: 8 miles/13km
Time: 4 hours
Terrain: Woodland tracks
Parking: Roadside by the bridge
Refreshments: Café and pubs in Ayton
Map: OS OL27 North York Moors Eastern