The Cleveland Way ~ Day Four (Clay Bank to Kilburn)
This is the start of stage four of the Cleveland Way which runs from Clay Bank to Kildale. I am walking this 109-mile national trail in stages over the next few months with my mum.
It's a good job this car park is so well-appointed as my dad ended up waiting here the previous week for almost two hours while we completed stage three of the Cleveland Way. Equipped with just the newspaper and his Kindle, it was probably the view that kept his spirits up during the wait.
The view from here is so beautiful that it has become a memorial site to loved ones and the viewing platform is adorned with flowers and plaques inscribed with heartfelt tributes. We took a moment to appreciate this beauty spot and the loving words etched on these plaques before embarking on our walk.
From the car park we returned along the road before turning left to follow some steep flagged steps up onto Carr Ridge. It must have taken some effort starting out on such an incline as even my mum, who is normally very talkative, remained silent until we reached the top.
As the terrain levelled out we turned to look at the view behind us and the route we had taken on the last stage which had taken us up and down five moors.
Once we had passed through a grassy meadow we were onto a gritty path taking us across bilberry and heather-clad moorland with only a few sheep and their young offspring for company.
We came across this pool of water by the side of the track as we headed towards Urra Moor, the highest moor in the North Yorkshire Moors at 454 metres.
From this high up we were rewarded once again with some magnificent views across the the North York Moors. We were lucky that the weather was on our side as you certainly wouldn't want to be crossing these paths in inclement conditions - one wrong turn and who knows where you would end up.
After a while we arrived at Bloworth Crossing, which is an intersection of old railway tracks. If you went straight on from here you would be following the Coast to Coast Walk and end up in Robin Hood's Bay. Instead we almost doubled back on ourselves following the stony track up a hill.
The railway tracks referred to were part of the Rosedale Mineral Railway which ran from 1861 to 1929, transporting iron ore from Rosedale to the furnaces of Durham. Bloworth Crossing was at one time manned by a keeper who lived in a little house alongside the crossing. Although this area feels so remote now, perhaps it was quite a hive of activity back then, although one particular row of cottages was known by locals back then as Siberia owing to its remoteness.
Not far from where we turned, we passed a pair of standing stones. The taller one dates back to 1888 while the shorter one, known as Jenny Bradley's Cross, is much older.
Not long after here we stopped for lunch on a small slope by the side of the track with views over Ingleby Greenhow. From here the track seemed to go on forever. This particularly leg of the Cleveland Way is by far the most remote, crossing the highest part of the moors, including Ingleby Moor and Battersby Moor, eventually reaching a gate at a road.
It is fantastic to have access to such trails as the Cleveland Way. However, a nicely painted sign we came across on this route made it clear that not every part of the moors is open access! And not everyone is welcome...
As we started our descent along a quiet road next to the slopes of Park Nab, heading towards Kildale, we came across a memorial stone to four young airmen from World War Two whose plane had crashed half a mile from here in January 1941. The four men survived the crash but when they were discovered two days later, they had all perished from exposure which seems so cruel.
Memorials such as this offer glimpses into the often tragic history that this vast moorland has witnessed, little stories that we may never hear about, let alone find ourselves standing in the spot where these events actually took place.
From here we continued down the road overlooking the green valley below with its patchwork of fields and small clusters of houses and farms dotted across the landscape.
We followed the signs to the small village of Kildale, meanwhile circling above us were curlews and lapwings. This is a wonderful place for bird watchers.
Unfortunately the café in Kildale is no longer open so we continued along towards the station. I couldn't resist a photo of this gorgeous little summer house on our way.
St Cuthbert's Church is situated next to the station. It has a lovely approach along a narrow footpath that crosses the railway, framed by some old yew trees. It is a pretty little 19th Century church with some interesting features. There are four medieval grave slabs in the porch, two of which bear the coat of arms of the Percy family, one of the most powerful noble families in the north of England during the middle ages
A friendly chap who was mowing the grass unlocked the church for us to look around. He explained that the modern stained glass window here created in 1992 celebrates aspects of the village community, including a steam train passing through Kildale and the village smithy.
I'd also read beforehand that Robert Thompson, the Mouseman had been at work here and left one his telltale carved mice symbols near the altar so I hunted it down and took this photograph.
This stage was another memorable route along the Cleveland Way, taking us to the highest point as well as the most remote parts of the North York Moors with glimpses along the way of picturesque valleys below.
Our next leg will take us over the last section of the moors before the Cleveland Way starts its descent along the coast, offering different but equally dramatic views, I am sure. So until then, my walking boots are taking a rest...so see you next time!