The Cleveland Way ~ Day Three (Osmotherley to Clay Bank)
On more than one occasion towards the end of this section of the Cleveland Way, one of us (mostly me) gave a despairing sigh, muttering something along the lines of, "Oh crikey, not another hill...".
I am walking the Cleveland Way in stages over the next few months with my mum and let's just say this third section which runs from Osmotherley to Clay Bank is the most strenuous so far. If I had studied the contours of our OS map properly, I would have known what we were letting ourselves in for.
We've already pounded the trail from Helmsley to Sutton Bank and Sutton Bank to Osmotherley; both fantastic walks and, as we now realise, a gentle introduction to this wonderful 109-mile national trail.
The day's walk started from the lovely village of Osmotherley, taking us on a gentle climb from civilisation and onto the North York Moors. In total we crossed over five moors; Scarth Wood Moor, Live Moor, Cringle Moor, Cold Moor and Hasty Bank, hence the up and down nature of this section bringing with it the most wonderful far reaching views.
As we left Osmotherley, we crossed the intersection of the Coast to Coast walk (St Bees in Cumbria to Robin Hood's Bay), which my mum already has under her belt. These two trails share the same route for a few miles from here so we bumped into walkers, including a film crew, who were doing the Coast to Coast. We also crossed paths with the Lyke Wake Walk, a 42-mile hike across the moors which, if completed within 24 hours, enables you to join the Lyke Wake Club.
We passed within half a mile of Mount Grace Priory but didn't have time to stop on this walk - that's a visit for another day.
After a climb, we headed into South Wood, a woodland carpeted with tiny white flowers which I later identified as wild sorrel. The bluebells were also starting to appear in Arncliffe Wood, an attractive deciduous wood, further along the way.
So, after being eased into the walk with some gentle rambling along woodland paths, grassy meadows and the occasional climb, the real effort began. As we looked ahead of us, we spotted the sharp peak of Roseberry Topping in the distance which we will pass on the next section. Much of the path from hereon is stone-flagged to control the erosion caused by so many feet trampling over this route across the moors.
After some steep climbs we reached a plateau so it was time for a photo opportunity and a chance to stop and admire the increasingly beautiful views from this high up, looking at where we had come from and where we were going.
We were very lucky with the weather as it was just the right temperature for hiking. You wouldn't want it too hot or too cold up here.
After a lot of scrambling across Live Moor and Carlton Moor, we descended to meet the road which we crossed and followed a path that took us to the grass-roofed Lordstones Café at Carlton Bank. It's becoming a bit of a trend that I had to bypass yet another lovely looking café! But I am clocking them all and I think my next challenge should to sample all the fabulous cafés along the Cleveland Way. The Lordstones is actually more than a café, rather it's a country park which also offers glamping, a restaurant and a delicatessen.
From the Lordstones Country Park we started the climb to Cringle Moor where the views got better and better as we reached the peak at 450 feet. Short of being in one of the gliders taking off from Carlton Bank, I don't think we could have got better views across the countryside.
From the Trig Point and plaque dedicated to rambler Alec Falconer up on Cringle Moor we managed to get our bearings and identify some of the places in the distance; to the west, the Dales and the Pennines, to the north, Middlesborough, Stockton and Hartlepool including the sea, and to the east, Roseberry Topping and Kildale.
After taking in all that this spectacular view offers, we continued on our way, following the sandy footpath along the ridge line of Cringle Moor.
And then more scrambling up and down the stony steps of Cold Moor. At this point, it was anything but cold. The sun was lowering and it seemed to be getting warmer, or maybe that was just us gripping the ground like a pair of mountain goats and building up a sweat.
The last climb of the day took us up to the large, rocky outcrop of stones known as the Wainstones on Hasty Bank. We sat down to catch our breath and call upon our energy reserves to take us to this next stage. The route doesn't take you around these huge boulders, instead you have to clamber in between them to get over the top of Hasty Bank.
From here, we were on the homeward stretch to Clay Bank car park. Facing us we could see the climb we will set out on for the next leg. Fortunately we have a few sleeps to recover from this one first.
What a walk! This was one of the best walks I have ever done. It wasn't easy in parts but in return it offers so much; the most amazing views across Yorkshire and the North East; the beauty and tranquility of the immediate surroundings and the chance to meet some lovely people along the way all embracing this wonderful hike.
I felt a real sense of achievement at the end of this walk. So now, it's onward, and I am sure it will most certainly be upward for stage four...walking boots at the ready!