Thursday, 25 June 2015

Our final North York Moors walk - Square Corner to Kepwick

We hope not our final walk here ever as the North York Moors are
The poshest 'shut the gate' sign we've seen so far 
gorgeous and we have hardly scratched the surface of walking opportunities in the area, but today was our last walk of our current three week stay. We don't know when we might be coming this way again. Dave found us an eight mile loop without too much in the way of really strenuous ups and downs which started not far outside the wonderfully named village of Osmotherley. There is a car park at Square Corner and, had we continued along its road for another mile or so, we would have joined our 15-mile-epic-walk route. Instead, today, we began our walk by setting out towards the hill called Black Hambleton.

Dave was sporting his new Meindl walking boots and Berghaus
Happy hiker! 
waterproof jacket, both of which we realised needed to be replaced after our rainy outing the other day! I love this photo of him looking so happy! As it turned out, he was equally happy by the time we got back because, despite my insisting that he carry his trainers all the way (just in case) his boots were comfortable with no rubs or blisters at all. Our walk was almost entirely on tracks - stony, chalky or gravelly. I was surprised at one point to see chalk grassland that looked incredibly similar to the South Downs. This was above the Forestry Commission site of Silton Wood which we skirted to begin with and walked back through the centre at the end. There wasn't much in the way of far-reaching views early on, although the neat stone wall in the way was quite an impressive sight in its own right.

Our lunch stop was in the village of Kepwick, just in front of the ever-so
Rhododendrons on the moors above Kepwick 
grand gates of Kepwick Hall. We had begun to see extensive areas of flowering rhododendrons on the hills above so I had thought there must have been a country mansion somewhere, but it was tricky to see clearly as it was set so far back from the path. We also saw a large area of disturbed ground just as we began to descend towards Kepwick. It reminded us of the abandoned flint mines at Grime's Graves and we wondered if these lumps and bumps were evidence of similar activity here.

Abandoned mine workings? 
Heading towards Silton from Kepwick, our route shrank to a narrow footpath across farmers fields. We were suspiciously observed by a half dozen cows with two young calves who didn't appreciate us crossing their field. Then we also found ourselves having to cross a field with a single bull in it. I am always a little nervy of cows and, especially, bulls, but this one looked quite young and disinterested in us!

Back on stony track again and ascending through Silton Forest we saw
Marking National Cycle Network
Route 65 
an amazing machine which was felling, stripping and sectioning pine trees - all in one operation and only needing one person at the controls. It was fascinating to watch. I also spotted a sculpted waymarker which was the spitting image of one on the Cuckoo Trail in Sussex. I had only really noticed its outline before and not read it closely. I learned that 1000 of these were put up all across the country on the then new National Cycle Network. That would explain the similarity! The markers were funded by the RBS and, much like the bank itself, are now looking a bit the worse for wear. Now, you have all signed the RBS petition I posted, haven't you?! It was remarkably muggy in the forest as we didn't get any of the breeze that we have been used to up on the moors. It was lovely to see sunshine through the branches though.

Our whole walk was about four and a half hours, including a reasonably leisurely lunch stop. We saw a few bees, a couple of butterflies including a beautiful blue one, a stoat or a weasel, a curlew (probably) and several swooping swallows. There were also more other walkers about on this route than we have seen since Roseberry Topping. Wednesday must be Walking Day around here! I will be sorry to leave the North York Moors. Brian at South View Farm campsite has been a good host and we wish him and his son all the best. Tomorrow (or today by the time I stop waffling and publish this) we are moving further north again. My next post will be from near to Alnwick! Perhaps Dave will stop serenading every walk with this song by then? Perhaps not. There are more moors in Northumberland!

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