The Cleveland Way ~ Day Two (Sutton Bank to Osmotherley)
The second leg of the 109-mile Cleveland Way, which I am walking in stages over the next few months, starts off with "England's finest view". So said local resident and writer James Herriot.
And as it says on the sign, who's to argue? It certainly is an impressive panorama taking in spectacular views across the Vale of Mowbray, gliders from the Yorkshire Gliding Club, Roulston Scar, Hood Hill, Menwith Hill, Blubberhouses, Garbutt Wood and Lake Gormire below.
According to local legend beneath Lake Gormire's inky depths lurks a hidden city, the devil or perhaps most chillingly - a bottomless pit.
Its real life mystery is that it's one of only two natural lakes in Yorkshire, created by meltwater at the end of the last ice age. Curiously no water appears to flow into or from it so it remains incredibly still. It is thought that it is fed by an underground source.
Today's walk will take us from Sutton Bank to the village of Osmotherley. From above Lake Gormire we walked along the route which follows the escarpment with spectacular views to admire along the way. Amongst the patchwork of fields are little villages and the occasional small holding nestled in the valleys.
The path then descends from High Barn to Sneck Yate crossing a road before heading into Low Paradise Wood. We then joined the road to High Paradise Farm.
On any other day we would definitely have been tempted to stop off for tea and cake at High Paradise Farm. But as we were on a mission and not yet half way to our destination, we had to bypass this opportunity in favour of our own flask of tea, sandwiches and Kit-Kats.
After another woodland walk the path emerges onto the open moor which gives you a sense of how the next stages of the walk might develop.
Part of the route passes along the old drovers' road, the ancient route farmers took as they walked their cattle to market on foot. You can only imagine the varying weather they had to endure as this area feels so exposed with no shelter in sight. The only sound to disturb us on our journey was the distinct cackling and flight of startled grouse nesting on the moorland.
Once over the moor, we descended a steep stony path into an area known as Oakdale. This is a lovely, sheltered woodland with a babbling beck flowing through it.
We were almost at our destination, the picturesque village of Osmotherley, but not before squeezing through the very, very narrow sheep snecks (stone gateways to stop sheep entering the village). It's a good job we had only eaten half of our four-finger Kit-Kat!
Osmotherley is in a beautiful setting with streets of pan-tiled stone houses, snickets and alleyways, shops and three pubs around the central village green, all against a backdrop of the North York Moors.
This was a Friday evening and the village was buzzing with people sitting outside the pubs. Again we were lucky to have somewhere to enjoy a well-deserved drink, a cold one this time, at the Golden Lion pub.
So, that's Day Two ticked off and what another fabulous walk taking in the escarpment with its panoramic views; shady woodland paths, the heather-strewn moors; an old drovers' road and a pretty village as its finale.