Swainby to Osmotherley – May ’17

So Peeps, this is a tale of an ambiguous text and excellent service from Abbotts Coaches and their wonderful staff.

Well I woke up this morning. (You can’t beat a bit of blues first thing). I’d received a text from Dave and it said; “Walking from Swainby to Osmotherley, bus to usual place, usual time . Let me know if you’re up for it, love and peace Dave”.

Well how can you ignore such an invite?

So, I’m walking up to the bus stop texting Dave a reply and manage to flag the bus with only seconds to spare. The Abbotts service is brilliant and we proffer ‘our old farts passes’ to use it regularly to get to Swainby so that we can head in to the North Yorkshire Moors literally on a whim.

The bus driver, Brian checks where I’m going, he clearly thinks I’m old and might not know where I’m going and given a few more minutes he’s probably going to be right!

I take a seat and read the reply from Dave.

“George, it’s tomorrow”,

Bugger, I’d better read the text again…no it still doesn’t mention tomorrow.



I’m smiling now as I think about dastardly things that could be done to avenge; that can wait, I need to make a decision as to what to do and I’ve got a couple of options. I could jump off the bus at Brompton and walk back home or I could ring Peter to get him out of bed and do the walk anyway. I plump for the latter smiling even more ‘cos it’s only 10 o’clock so I’ll wake him up.

So, I can hear the yawn as he answers the ‘phone and I explain the plan. When I mention the word ‘walk’ he responds like my dogs and I can imagine him standing at the door drink in one hand and ‘phone/camera in the other.

Brian drops me off at the toilet block in Swainby and I blink and sneeze as I step into the sun. Peter’s nearly ready, in fairness I had said that I’d be about twenty minutes as I thought the bus went to Osmotherley first but it didn’t so the twenty had dropped to five and he’s standing half naked at the door. Fortunately it’s the top half that’s naked so I’ll not need the counselling.

The sky is almost without cloud as we leave the village and the trees have their fresh green livery only seen in spring. We pass a rope swing over the beck and it reminds me of an escapade from my childhood.



//Start wobbly image and fade to childhood//
We used to play at a place like this. Castle Hills was where I grew up and we loved to play near or over the beck. One of the places of interest was an area lined on one side with trees and on the other with bushes where the beck flowed next to the railway line, we called this Calcutta for no other reason that it was a deep cut where the beck flowed. In the spring when the snows were melting on the moors the beck would be swollen and as summer approached it would slow so that we could splodge in it and catch sticklebacks and the odd elver. Low Castle Hills was where we rolled our eggs at easter and these had usually been coloured using the yellow gorse flowers and onion skins.

There’s a public footpath that leads to the North End of town and as it passes “Cally” The path is restricted in width and there’s been a fair amount of erosion over the years. There’s a tree that we used for a swing across the beck and I believe that tree is still there; anyway, the purpose of this deviation is that I remember an incident when we were children and it involved a rope…

When we were about 10 we’d been ferreting about in a factory yard and had ‘found’ a discarded rope and decided that it would be ideal if we could find a tree with a bough that stretched over the beck then we could swing across it like Tarzan of the Apes who was very popular at the time.

We did remember such a tree that had been used before and all we had to do now was find it and that we did near the above Calcutta.  As we approached we could see the remnants of other pieces of rope that had ether snapped or been cut down by adults bent on suppressing our desires to commit suicide.

I’m not sure who shimmied up the tree now, with our climbing skills it could have been any of us but I do know that the outcome was a rope dangling in the middle of the beck just out of reach. Being human helped at this point as we began to think of the tools that we’d need to bring it back to the bank and within minutes we had a broken branch that had been blown off one of the other trees during the winter storms. Seconds later we had the rope in our hands ready for the swing and nobody had fallen in…yet!

We then had a limited but spirited ‘fight’ about who would go first and I lost. The winner took a long run along the embankment with the intention of describing a smooth arc that kept your feet dry and gave you the opportunity to land on the opposite bank if you so desired. If you chose not to land then the rest of the journey was a mirror image of the first and, if you were fleet of foot, you’d land on the side of the beck that you left and hand the rope on to your friend. If you were not fleet of foot you hit the tree!

My friend who will remain anonymous ran along the bank with the above mental rehearsal in his mind. He had the speed and the angle all perfect and left the river bank with grace. The bough of the tree dipped as the combination of gravity and mass took effect. I could also see water emerge from the fibres as the rope thinned slightly as it stretched.

Then there was an extended crack and the rope snapped. Geoff hit the water with the elegance of a brick, oops I said he would be anonymous!

I suppose the gentlemanly thing to have done would have been to help him out of the water but both his brother and I were helpless with laughter and I’m still sitting here with a smile as I finish this paragraph.

//End wobbly image and fade to now//


Click on any image to page through them full screen…

We make our way up Shepherd Hill passing a number of others taking advantage of this beautiful weather. Scugdale and Whorl Hill are fabulously clear on our left and the Vale of Mowbray stretches out to the Pennines on our right. We turn right and on to the steps the signpost indicates the Cleveland Way and we’ll be staying with this for a while topping out at 280 metres (about 900 feet).

The steps are a challenge, it’s easier to walk on a track than steps whether you’re going up or down but we use the excuse of taking photographs to steal a breath or two and use the opportunity to view the vale and the Pennines in the distance. The oil seed rape fields stand out but the other crops contrast and the walls and hedges stitch it all together. Walking on a sunny day is the ultimate relaxation. It stimulates every sense and, on cue, we hear a cuckoo.

At the top the path becomes a track and easy walking after the exertions of the steps are forgotten. Scarth Wood Moor is on our left and the blues, whites and yellows of the wild flowers on both sides of the track are a treat.

We reach the cattle grid across the Swainby-Osmotherley Road and Peter is telling me about an adder that he photographed here yesterday. I’m not afraid of snakes but I’m still a little more cautious as we cross the road and rejoin the track on Scarth Wood Moor.

Another 50 metres or so along the dry stone wall and we can look back over Whorl Hill and Swainby Village, scanning to the left is Ingleby Cross and numerous farms. The blue sky and odd wisp of high cirrus it’s like a scene from an idyllic children’s cartoon everything is primary coloured, gloriously bright and sharp.

At the top of Scarth Wood Moor there’s a bench seat where we take a break and spend a little bit of time taking a drink and a short break then it’s off again along the ridge with Arncliffe Wood on our right and a dry stone wall and plenty of gorse on our left. At the repeater station we would normally turn right if it’s wet and follow the tarmac road down to Osmotherley there hasn’t been rain for some time so we continue along the Cleveland Way to pass Lady Chapel on our left and Mount Grace below us on our right.

We soon arrive at Chapel Wood Farm and follow Rueberry Lane in an arc into Osmotherley. The view to our right across the Vale of Mowbray is clearer than most days although the Pennines are still a little misty so their outline is slightly hazy.

At the Queen Catherine we order a sandwich to share, they come with some chips and salad so one is more than ample unless your intention is to have a snooze in the afternoon.

Now here’s a little tale that’ll warm your spirit:

I mention to Pete that I normally carry a small folding keyboard that bluetooth’s into my iPhone so that I can write these little missives as the words enter my head.  I think I’ve left both the keyboard and some once a day expensive suncream that was unopened on the bus. Pete thinks it would be a good idea to ask the driver as I’m picked up to go back to Northallerton. I’m not entirely convinced as the service that took me to Swainby was the fast service that didn’t call into Osmotherley i.e. it was a completely different rout but hey, it’s got to be worth a punt.

As I step onto the bus I’m beckoned by two people that had been on the other service this morning and had found my keyboard and the sun cream and handed it to Brian, the driver. Peter, in the meantime is asking Marion, the driver of this bus if anything has been handed in and I hear a voice calling “George, have you lost something?” I respond that I have and within a few seconds they’re handed back to me. At about £100 to replace them I’m delighted.

My belief is this. The easy thing would have been for Brian to have handed them in at the office as lost property at the end of his shift but I’m guessing he realised that I was walking to Ozzy and handed it to Marion who was driving the Ozzy bus on the off chance that I’d be catching that. So here I am reunited with my keyboard and suncream, can’t fault the service, thanks to both Brian and Marion and also the lovely honest couple from Brompton (I think) who handed them to the driver in the first place.

I love Yorkshire, I love Yorkshire folk and I commend the Abbotts service that we use regularly, it’s second to none.

Today is a great day. Enjoy the snaps…G..x

This is a 8km (5 mile-ish) well marked route a bit challenging up the steps and certainly gets the heart rate up but with lovely views. If you leave your email address then you’ll be contacted when any new posts are added. You can cancel this at any time.

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