Lord Stones to Wainstones Loop
Carol is resplendent in pale blue with a black waistband that accents the fact that she’s a woman and no stick insect; oh, she also mentions that the weather would improve over the day.
Last Friday evening at our office in the Golden Lion whilst sampling various coloured liquids we discussed closing a gap in the Cleveland Way. George mentioned Lord Stones and walking from there to Wainstones, Clay Bank and then back via a lower route through the woods. We’d be lost without George’s organisational skills and sage advice.
Soo, we’re heading into Carlton and looking at some worryingly heavy clouds that have completely obscured the top of Cringle and angrily bending some of the saplings towards the top. It doesn’t look like some of the leisurely walks that we had of late.
We reach Lord Stones who had generously approved George’s request to use their car park for four or five hours. We’d already decided to use their facilities for a bite to eat and a drink at the completion of the walk and looking at the weather, I think we may need it.
A quick double-check on the Outdoormaps App that I have on my phone and switch on the tracking facility and we’re off.
A little hiccup at the start as the team go in the wrong direction, they do it en-masse so I’m perplexed but initially follow them then dig my heels in. After a short discussion and the reassurance of a signpost, we’re off in the right direction.
The route follows the Cleveland Way most of the time so it is both well marked and well signposted; however, that’s when there is rather less cloud. We’re currently at about 900 feet and Crinkle is at about 1400 so we have a bit to do. It’s not difficult and by this I mean if you have a half-day when you fancy some fresh air then walking to the viewing point on Crinkle would be a fabulous exhilarating exercise and you could take your family but keep an eye on youngsters at the top.
We reach the viewing point in 20 minutes or so but we’re still fighting to see through the cloud. It’s a strange feeling being cold and hot at the same time. The wind is a warm south-easterly but the cloud is cold and clammy. We’ve already taken the opportunity to don our light waterproof stuff and tuck our trousers into our socks to avoid tics and other miniature biting machines. At the viewing point, we stop to peer through the cloud that momentarily breaks to give us tantalising and quite beautiful fleeting glimpses of the Vale of Mowbray lit by sun-powered super troupers* bathing random fields or villages in beams of light, then its gone again obscured first by rainy mist then strangely, no rain, just cloud!
We walk along the edge of Crinkle in varying cloud that is blowing across the heather from the east. As it reaches the edge of the ridge it hovers for a few milliseconds before it realises that if it is to continue to harass the vegetation it will need to plunge down the ridge face and resume its journey at the bottom where it will find corn and grass to replace the heather. Watching the dynamics of the cloud is intriguing but we’re not disappointed when it becomes obvious that it is thinning and what we’re witnessing now is a transformation of what was the equivalent of monochrome to a sudden and spectacular world of full colour (well to some of us anyway!). With the sudden evaporation of the cloud, we’re looking at a moor that takes the colour purple to a new extreme and it stretches for a very long way.
I’m one of the many men who struggle with colours and I ask the team if the heather is purple as I’m seeing blue. I’ve been told that moor heather is purple so I’m guessing that this is the reason for the level of intensity that I’m experiencing. It matters not that my perception of colour is different from the others, we’re all just awash with the pleasure of it, it’s stunning. Oh, and the response from the team is that it is PURPLE not purple. i.e. it’s VERY purple!
The elements haven’t finished with the cloud and for the next few minutes, we have varying degrees of the stuff before we begin our descent into the valley between Cringle Moor and Cold Moor. This is steep and we know we have this to deal with on the way back when we’re knackered.
At the bottom, we decide on a detour on the edge of the woods so we’re not walking the same stretch there and back. It’s very muddy but pleasant enough with the musty smell of lichen and occasional mushroom, some boringly pink but others gaudy red with spots.
We jump over the last puddles and avoid some fairly clingy muddy clay then turn right to return to the Cleveland Way with Wainstones 300 feet above. By now we’re ready to eat, well most of us are.
Wainstones is an intriguing outcrop of rocks and they’re about 1000 feet above the vale so the view is fabulous. On a clear day, you’ve views from the Pennines to Coast but not today. It’s much better than earlier; however, there’s still a fair amount of cloud but now it’s higher.
Photographs are created and then the ceremony of the opening the sandwiches.
We watch with bated breath (ok I’ll get my coat) for Mac to open his, the contents of this have been a closely guarded secret from the point of assembly to this minute. The rest of us have a reasonable idea of what’s in ours because we made them but Mac, well we’re all envious!
Mac eats so much and then asks the time. “11 am”, was the swift reply. “No wonder I’m not hungry”, says Mac and packs it back up again. So there you go, there is a time to eat and a time to fast.
Mac now has time to gaze around and suddenly points to the forest below. He spots a small vapour cloud forming above the trees and although I’d seen it before from a distance I’d never seen this happening as close as this. It forms a link between the tree line and the clouds in the sky to give the impression of it feeding them. In a sense, I suppose it is. You see so much when you’re out walking. Thanks, Mac.
We just eat everything we can find and finish the drinks!
The atmosphere has cleared even more as we were eating so there are more photographs then off we go on the return trip. Our original plan had been to go on to Clay Bank then through the woods on the lower route. That had been altered to accommodate a return before 3 and, as it happens, the avoidance of some significant mud and clay ruts on the lower route.
As we reach the bottom of Cold Moor the ascent is much less severe than the perception from Wainstones and whoever had laid the stones that denote the Cleveland Way had done a seriously good job, I’m grateful.
At the foot of the ascent, we meet some people who are walking the Cleveland Way and hope to be finished in the next couple of days. I admire their fortitude. We took the route around this hill so the views that materialise are new and change as we gain altitude. We stop a couple of time to scan the Vale. The sunbeams powering through the woolly colander of the sky are moving at huge speed across the land as the turmoil in the heavens is reflected on earth. It’s fascinating.
At the top, there are several remarks about the scenery and also that it wasn’t half as bad as expected. Certainly, none of the team is out of breath but that’s possibly a reflection of our fitness now, I’m not sure that would have been the case a year ago.
This moor is dramatic on both sides, one side for the panoramic view of the Pennines, vale and Tees Mouth and the other for the wild expanse of heather moor down towards Bilsdale and to another side, Rosedale. The wind is blowing but no low cloud now.
I know it’s about a different part of Yorkshire, apart from prevailing westerlies hit 20 minutes before here but I’m reminded of Kate Bush and Wuthering Heights and the tune and the first couple of lines: “Out on the wiley, windy moors, We’d roll and fall in green…” it’s a beautiful song and I don’t mind it as an earworm for the next few minutes as we walk along the ridge and watch the sunbeams scurrying randomly across the vale.
The descent is quite steep and it’s difficult concentrating on the path and steps with such a stunning view in a 200-degree panorama.
At the bottom of the valley, we look up the track to Cringle again and see several people making their way carefully down the zig-zag route. There’s plenty of space for passing and the first couple acknowledge our greeting with a smile and they disappear towards the ridge. The next couple is a cheery pair of ladies who are originally from South Africa but now from York. Melissa and Lynda make our day with smiles that would light a room and ready conversation about where they’ve been and their intentions for the day. We tell them about our ‘ramblings’, where we’ve been and this blog. Whilst they’re dressed appropriately they also look great and at the risk of being sexist, very attractively too. After a far too brief chat, they’re on their way again and we make our way to the top of the moor with an extra spring in our step.
The sun is out now and the heather which was stunning in the transient weather is now quite off the scale. Pictures are made from every angle and Peter, our resident snapper who is usually more interested in the human form as it gives him the opportunity to order us about is crouching, leaning forwards, prone, leaning sideways, firing from the hips and culminates with a double backflip whilst taking his final shots to get heather, track, rocks and the amazing vista of the vale into one shot. You’d hardly credit he’s nearly 27.
We continue to the seat and view at the top of Cringle where Bri ensures he has a complete portfolio of unposed and very natural shots. He’s really got a knack of catching us unawares and his camera records some classic shots good in both quality and composition.
A mixture of atmospheric pressure, breeze and the sun are winning the battle of the cloud and it is now down to clusters of cumulus drifting about in the blue and the subsequent clarity has resulted in the Pennines appearing in the distance.
It takes about 15 minutes to make our way back to Lord Stones where the place is in full swing and I have reservations about how soon we’ll get served. My reservations are unfounded and within a few minutes of taking our order they find us at our outside table and we’re tucking into a combination of sandwiches, teacakes and scones with various John Smith beer, coffee, latte and tea. The quality is exceptional and the lady that serves us cheerful and helpful. We’ll certainly be back.
We also take a look at the evening menu when the place morphs into a proper restaurant it looks good and we’ll be taking the opportunity to try it in the future, I’ll let you know.
This walk does not really require an OS Map although my advice is to always have one. The Cleveland Way is both signposted and very obvious; however, a map does allow you to see where you are relative to your surrounds and also how far you’ve covered and need to go. The walk is 5 miles exactly and extremely steep in parts. You’ll need to make time allowances for the ascents.
*A super trouper is the main spotlight that follows the performing artist on stage. Apologies if you knew this.