So Peeps, it’s day 2 and we’re walking from Sutton Bank to Osmotherley. On the way, we’ll stop off for an ‘interesting’ visit and excellent bacon butty at Paradise Farm. Then one of us will find out what a Greek sandwich really is; but will he reveal it to the rest of us?
There appear to be some road issues so Ted’s Taxi takes us the pretty route that includes a trip up Bolton Bank and an approach to Sutton Bank that I’ve not taken but is very picturesque. It’s raining and the forecast is poor for the day so we’re well togged out in our waterproof best. Billy Connelly once said that there is no such thing as bad weather, it’s just bad preparation and we’re certainly not that.
This photo credit is Peter Hymer
As Ted drives off we make our way towards the Sutton Bluff and what is generally considered the best view in England then begin our walk along the bluff towards Garbutt Wood. As we emerge from the trees we’re met with some fabulous views of Gormire looking North West and the beautiful Vales of York and Mowbray. The Pennines are just a blur a today due to the fine rain that’s falling and the wind that’s blowing the heavy cloud across the sky. There’s no misery here though, we’re upbeat and looking forward to a bacon sandwich at High Paradise Cafe which is about an hour and half from here. We make a few photographs and take in the sights, I’ve actually included some photographs made on sunny days from this ridge, today the views are merely good but on the days that we’re blessed with blue skies and fluffy white clouds, they’re spectacular and the “Best View In England” title that’s signposted at the cafe in the car park is entirely appropriate.
We’re heading towards White Mare Crag now and I remember a legend that was retold in wonderful detail by Peter Turton, a North Yorkshire Moors National Park Volunteer and I include it here…
The story begins with the Abbot of Rievaulx Abbey. The Abbot owned a white Arab mare, which had been presented to the Abbey. The Abbot took ownership of the horse, as he thought much more of worldly possessions than religious duties. The mare by nature was mild and gentle, but take her up on the moor and give her full rein, and then she showed her true worth.
In nearby Helmsley Castle lived a Knight, Sir Harry de Scriven, who was as fond of good living as the Abbot. He too had a favourite steed, a black stallion with the name of Nightwind. He and Nightwind had a reputation for never having been beaten in the chase. Not surprisingly there existed considerable jealousy between the Knight and the Abbot.
One day after a hunting trip the Knight passed the inn on Hambleton Plain and decided to call in. Who should be there but the Abbot? The two men ate and drank together whilst night came on and with it a strong storm wind which promised snow. After a number of hours, Sir Harry seemingly recalled a message for the Abbot. A yeoman farmer who a few miles away over the plain was very ill and had asked the Knight to summon the Abbot to come to shrive and pray with him before it was too late.
Sir Harry offered the use of Nightwind, surprisingly the Abbot accepted the offer and also agreed that the Knight, riding the white mare, should accompany him so far along the road, to show the way. The two men mounted hastily and rode off. The wind was blowing wildly; both horses felt the nervous excitement of the coming storm and somehow the ride moved almost imperceptibly into a race between the powerful black horse and the fleet white mare, and their riders.
The mare took the lead but Nightwind, carrying the heavy Abbott, slowly drew abreast and then took the lead. Sir Harry grew angry and the sound of the Abbott’s mocking laughter from ahead did nothing to abate his fury. He lashed the mare, he swore at her, he swore at the Abbot and Nightwind, and then he swore at himself as he realised that the Abbot had not been fooled. The heavier man had the heavier horse, and for all Sir Harry’s skill in the hunt, he couldn’t hope to catch Nightwind.
Riding blindly on and on, using his whip mercilessly, Sir Harry completely forgot the landscape and where they were heading. It was too late when he finally realised that the horses were almost at the edge of Hambleton Plain with an eight hundred foot drop before them. A momentary struggle to stop the mare failed, her headlong pace was too great and so with a sickening plunge horse and man went over the cliff edge.
As Sir Harry and the mare plummeted down towards the sharp rocks below, the Abbot appeared to sprout a pair of horns and a long forked tail and where there had been feet in the stirrups there were now a pair of pointed hooves!
Nightwind’s rider called above the sound of the storm:
“Sir Harry de Scriven beware of the stones
But a novice like you must expect broken bones
If you must play a trick on Old Nick!
I’ll see you below when I visit the sick!”
With those words ringing in his ears Sir Harry crashed to his death along with the little white mare.
And the Abbot? He and Nightwind disappeared into the waters of Lake Gormire at the bottom of the crag. A great hiss of steam went up as the lake boiled for a moment.
Lake Gormire towards Sutton Bank Yet that’s not quite the end.
Until not so many years ago, people living under the Hambleton Hills would tell you how, when the night was stormy, the spectre of the terrified white mare could be seen plunging over the crag towards the stones below until suddenly she disappeared into thin air.
And the dark bottomless Lake Gormire – well everyone knows that’s an entrance to Hell.
With the above in mind complete with a shudder that’s not only due to the rain. We make our way along the softer grass of Boltby Scar, Sneck Yate Bank past Low Paradise Farm and then up to our first objective, a bacon sandwich from High Paradise Farm.
The Cleveland Way meanders through the farm so you can’t miss it and the welcome from a very quirky and wonderfully cheerful Ginny is worth the call.
“Come in or go out but close the door”, is her opener, “It’s cold with the door open”. My pet hate is the type of person that stands in a doorway holding the door open whilst they conduct a conversation with someone outside so her direct approach is welcome by me and I’m amused. She’s also delivered it with a smile so there’s no malice intended and certainly none taken. I like this place already.
There are fresh scones, seriously rich fresh cream cake and various other homemade offerings together with coffees and teas but we’re here because of the bacon butty and it’s delivered on a fresh baguette; for the first time today, we go quiet!
After drying off and warming through we avail ourselves of the toilet facilities which are somewhat cosy in as much as there would be no risks to the health of a swinging cat because there isn’t enough room to swing it but they are immaculately clean and very welcome.
As an aside, I’m not sure what sort of parties or clientele The Cleveland Way and/or this part of North Yorkshire draws but there is a sign that prohibits the flushing of contraceptives down the toilet! Hmm, now I wonder, ‘High Paradise Farm’, where did it get its name?
We leave the lovely Ginny with a cheery wave and a smile that will keep us warm for the next few miles.
As we exit the courtyard the Pilgrim beckons us to follow Tony, Ginny’s stepdad and owner. He gives us a conducted tour of the barn and pens containing these well cared for animals, some of which will be decorating plates in the coming months. They don’t know this of course and in the meantime, they’re enjoying the best of care. We make a few more photographs and Pete captures a particularly good one of the Pilgrim and her new best friend, a goat.
We make our way across Kepwick Moor and turn left at White Gill Head onto the ambiguously named Hambleton Street that is also called the Cleveland Way. We’re on Black Hambleton now and on the descent. The track is strewn with rocks and is not pleasant to walk on but it doesn’t last long before we’re on to a smoother surface and before we know it we’re at Square Corner and ready for “the steps”.
The steps down to Oakdale are treacherous due to the rain and the moss. We adopt a very cautious approach as there are random stones that look no different to the others but are covered with lichen that is almost imperceptible and this coupled with the rain renders them like Teflon and there is more than one occasion when you hear a “Whoa…” or “Bugger..” or worse as someone’s foot slips away from them and sticks become an essential accessory to remaining upright. We fire our cameras up of course but on this occasion they’re redundant and we reach the bridge at the bottom of this little gorge without incident.
Oakdale Lower is now history and Oakdale Upper has been tastefully landscaped so we’re treated to a lovely view of rabbits playing near the water and two geese of some sort landing on the water. I love moments like this and whilst it could have been improved if the weather had been better it is still a wonderful late spring view and much appreciated.
Minutes later and we’re passing a house that has a fabulous garden that is being improved each time we use this route. The owner is lugging some huge planks about with the help of his partner and it is obvious how much work goes into making it look like this.
We’re along the lane now and see Pete just a blur in the distance, he’s made a phone call to Briege at the Osmotherley fish and chip shop to order a cod and chips and with the image, in his head he’s all but jogging to get there before she closes at half two, we smile.
George is talking about Mediterranean cuisine and discussing the relative merits of Spanish, Greek and English sandwiches but the conversation dies as salad, feta and Greek olives are suggested as optimal especially in Greek sunshine.
We arrive in the Queen Catherine following a brief encounter with cod and chips sitting on the cross and as we pass the bar George resurrects the conversation regarding sandwiches.
“So what would you say to a Greek sandwich?”, asks George as we take our seats in the corner…
There’s a silence for a nanosecond and if there’d been a piano playing in the bar it would have stopped!
Someone went into a semi crouch with shoulders hunched as the beer they were drinking came blurting out and tears welled in silent hysteric laughter.
Still, in gourmet mode, George asks again what a Greek sandwich is. Someone has googled said question and George is looking at the phone screen, first tilting his head one way, then the other. He even turned the ‘phone upside down shaking his head.
“I think I’ll swerve on the Greek sandwich”, says George; the rest of us are still recovering…
The walk is 18km (11 miles) and easy. The views are stunning in sunny weather and although we didn’t get any today it certainly proved that Gortex is indeed waterproof.
Enjoy the photos. I’ve also added some from another walk when it was sunny for your interest…G..x
PS: I bet you’re Googling ‘A Greek Sandwich’ 🙂
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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/
Acknowledgements: Peter Turton for the detail in the legend.
Here is the next Cleveland Way article: