So Peeps. The weather is much improved but this one is a biggy. We’ll learn to tell the difference between a crow and rook, struggle with an ascent at the end and hear some boys get a bollocking for not being team players whilst on the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme.
We leave Osmotherley via Rueberry Lane towards Lady Chapel. If you’re not a regular rambler or reader of this blog, the walk to Lady Chapel is beautiful in its own right. Just start at the cross in Ozzy and walk to the beautiful little church above Mount Grace, spend a few minutes just thinking or even, not thinking, then gently walk back down again taking in all of the sights of the Vale of Mowbray and the Pennines in the distance, you really won’t be disappointed.
We’re not calling in today and walk down this typical English lane with the odd bluebell still in attendance in the hedgerow complimented by cowslips and some early foxgloves. The hedges are fully endowed with leaf now and I’m always amazed at the speed that they transform themselves from barren twigs to lush green barriers delimiting fields and lanes throughout the vale.
Even with all of the rain the previous day, the usual bog at Chapel Wood Farm is not there although the going is what the racing fraternity would refer to as being good to soft. The cows are watching us with an element of suspicion and I’m surprised they don’t completely ignore us due to the number of people that traverse their field.
The gorse is still in full bloom as we enter South Wood and the track is clear and dry. There are numerous crows and rooks and I’m thinking of a rhyme learned at school…
A crow in a crowd is a rook,
A rook on its own is a crow.
…and watch as the rooks fly around the tops of the ferns calling to each other. They are a very sociable bird and whilst not having the beauty of a goldfinch or the stunning flash of a yellow hammer they are purported to be quite intelligent in a ‘birdy’ sort of way. I remember a show on TV when they demonstrated a rook using tools to trigger food by putting a small ball into a tube. The astonishing thing is that they did this without being trained. There’s a couple of magpies too which is a surprise as we’re still in the wood; I don’t salute but I do know some people who would.
At the top of the bank, we meet a couple of Australians. Martyn and Linda are from Melbourne and walking the Coast to Coast, we’ll see them from time to time along this part of the Cleveland Way as the two routes follow the same track for a few miles.
We walk among the trees that disguise the ridge of Scarth Wood Moor and give the occasional glimpse of the vale below. There is a meadow to our right and more birdsong is evident as the skylarks make their presence known whilst they hoover up the midges above the fields.
The track leads over the cattle grid and back into Clain Wood and onto the steps down to Scugdale. This is a beautiful dale and is so green at this time of year. We emerge into a meadow with buttercups in stunning yellow and the occasional birds-foot-trefoil also yellow, there are other plants but as a colour-blind person, these are the ones that jump out at me.
At the other side of the dale, we are on the ‘up’ and initially, the going is easy. We pass gorse in stunning yellow, the colour of the day. The wind is quite strong and is welcome as the gradient becomes more acute and as we pass through the gate we begin the ascent of the steps. This element of the walk is very challenging and the steps are extremely steep.
We leave the wood and the track becomes less severe but does stretch a long way ahead of us and whilst the top can’t be seen we know there is another half mile to the top but even then there are more ‘tops’ all of them raising the heart rate.
Partway across the moor we pass a group of fourteen or fifteen-year-olds who’re in the middle of a Duke of Edinburgh course and these boys are getting a bollocking for not working as a team, the girls are looking justifiably smug because they, quite clearly, are a tight working unit.
The final ‘top’ is a trig point and we gather around for photographs that reflect both the height of the moor and the beautiful vale below.
The track then takes us down to Lordstones via steps and flat stones combined to make the path a compromise of safety and ecological intent.
Lordstones and George Preston are waiting with the promise of wonderful pastries, scones and bacon sandwiches have been the lure since we started the walk. We select a table outside and invite Martyn and Linda, our Australian friends, to join us. They’re here for three weeks before going on to the continent and taking the opportunity to see our beautiful county on foot.
We’re here for about 45 minutes and the sandwiches are wonderful; however, the scones taste OK but that’s about it.
The first two-thirds of this walk has been challenging and as a consequence, our stamina is depleted. We make our way to the viewpoint on Cringle Moor, it’s a rise of about 450 feet and we need a couple of stops to catch our breath and allow our legs to recover on the way up.
At the top, we have a fabulous view of the Vale of Mowbray and Teesside but the wind is really cutting now. The ridge is about a kilometre or so then there’s a drop to Raisdale with an almost immediate ascent to Broughton Moor adjacent to the appropriately named Bleak Hills. This is a slightly lower rise of about 300 feet and once again a couple of us struggle with legs that are shaking with the effort. There is a group of youngsters about eleven or twelve years old and they are clearly delighted to be on their way down. As I look back some of them are near the bottom of the moor and are running and playing a game of ‘tigs’ whilst others are rolling the last few yards in the heather. The teachers are not happy because of the rocks that are strewn around, they’re right of course but I smile as I can imagine us, when we were their age, doing exactly the same thing.
It’s only a short walk across the top of this moor before we know it Wainstones is in sight.
The steps down to Garfit Gap are well maintained but require concentration and a degree of care; however, it’s also a chance to see Wainstones in their glory.
You don’t appreciate the height of the Wainstones or the size of some of the stones until you’re looking up at them and that’s what we’re doing now.
As we approach these huge boulders we manage to gain some protection from the wind that’s blowing in strong gusts from some unidentifiable source along the dale and we take a break in the lee of one of the bigger ones.
Once we’re breathing normally again we scramble up through the rocks to the top of the relative flat moor above Hasty Bank. It’s only a twenty-minute walk now to the start of the descent to Clay Bank and as we make out way down the steep zigzag steps we can see the ascent up Car Ridge that we’ll need to deal with tomorrow. It’s about 500 feet but at least we’ll be on fresh legs by then.
George Preston is supporting us and has coffee and biscuits laid out on the wall. The combination is like the fruit of the gods and there is a few minutes of silence as we tuck into Tesco best. Thanks, George, you’re a star.
Also thanks to Louise Graydon for letting us on her team 🙂x
This sector is 11 miles (18.5km). It is challenging especially after a couple of days of continuous walking. It includes a fair amount of ascent and some of it is tough…G..x
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This is life after an Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm open repair. Don’t be afraid of the operation, it set me free. Please be encouraged and inspired to walk, it’s liberating.
You can read about it here: https://www.yorkshireramblings.com/short-stay-hospital/
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