20170329_Boggle Hole – Ravenscar – Fylingdales Moor Circular Walk
Post #3 of 5 …. Ravenscar to Stony Leas, incl. part of Lyke Wake Walk
When : 29 March 2017
Who : Just Me
Where : North Yorkshire Moors and Coast
Start and End Point : NZ954,038
Distance : Approx 16.5 miles (26.5 km)
Significant heights : See end of post #5 for approx. figures
Map : 1:25,000 Outdoor Leisure Map No.27 … North York Moors Eastern Area.
Whole Walk Summary : A stretch of coast path, a lot of wide open moorland, and a final section of farmland. This was the longest day-walk I’d done for many a long year. Starting and finishing at Boggle Hole, along the coast and up to Ravenscar (Cleveland Way), west skirting Jugger Howe Moor and across Fylingdales Moor, north past Newton House Plantation (forest) and then eastwards through farmland back to Boggle Hole.
This diary post picks up my walking route at the National Trust information centre in Ravenscar, and follows on from post-1 (Boggle Hole to Ravenscar) and post-2 (Peak Alum Works) … follow on posts include post-4 (info about wildlife on the moors) and post-5 (Stony Leas to Boggle Hole) that completes the walk.
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I’d just grabbed a bite to eat from my rucksack (I always walk with more than enough for the day) and a bought cup of coffee from the National Trust info’ centre, and it didn’t take long for me to feel a little rested. However, as I was running somewhat late regarding walk timings and as the overcast skies turned to light drizzle, I didn’t tarry very long. So, I threw my sack on my back, and headed up Raven Hall Road, heading generally south passing a ribbon of houses; the road walking didn’t much bother me as I knew it wasn’t for long and there were good views out to the bay over Stoupe Brow, with a glimpse of the old railway, a stone bridge, clumps of gorse coming into flower, and an old alum quarry all blending seamlessly into each other in the landscape. I ignored Church Road/Bent Rigg Lane on the left, as the road bent slightly to the right, to then turn off on the next road/track on the right (Robin Hood Road) to pass a few slightly isolated buildings.
Near the end of the track as it headed off into some scrubby moorland. I chose a path on the left following the line of the field boundary wall on my left, rising really quite steeply, certainly enough to raise the heart rate and had me puffing somewhat. Even more extensive views opened behind/below me, but my next destination was above me : a radio mast pointing skywards. The route to get there was via a single-track path at the bottom of a narrow heather clad gully/ditch, not overly exciting perhaps, but this is the end of an ancient medieval earthwork (ditch and bank) system called “Green Dike” heading south over the highest part of the moors hereabouts. The gully, wide enough for single file only, rises to reach a minor road (Scarborough Road) very near to the radio mast. I believe this marks one end (normally the finishing point) of The Lyke Wake Challenge Walk.
After crossing the road, the medieval Green Dike (designated a monument scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979), continues southwards from here, but my route was to be just south of an almost due westerly direction, heading into the now pretty much flat moorland terrain. There were several paths/tracks that could be chosen, so I referred to my compass, took a bearing and started out noting the trig point off a little on my left.
My map shows the height here is 266m (about 873 ft) above sea level, indicating the height climbed since leaving Stoupe Beck Sands some 3-miles or so earlier in the walk. The well-defined track heads out over Howdale Moor, which, still in its bleak winter colours of grey and brown, was a complete contrast to the softer, lusher, farmland below Ravenscar. There was little variation in the landscape, except for a lone pool just off the track, its waters a deep peaty black looking ever slightly sinister (or was I allowing my imagination to run wild again) and an odd standing stone, with 1902, an arrow and other lettering carved into the hard surface.
After about a mile of the track, there was a divergence of paths. I wanted the more northerly option. It’d be very easy to miss this junction, especially in poor visibility, or I can imagine just chatting to colleagues/daydreaming as you walked would quite easily suffice to inadvertently miss this northern option. However, it wouldn’t have been a disaster if I had, as the overall route could’ve been picked up again later.
My route through or across the moors [between Howdale Moor and Stony Marl Moor] swung around to the left, dropping gently into a shallow valley to reach Cook House (farm). There was a degree of manicured-ness (is that a word) near the farmstead with a sizable wild looking pond glimpsed on the left. This pond isn’t marked on my old map (I wonder if it’s made it onto newer printings), however the farm track heading away from the farm was on my map and that marked my route to rise up to meet the A171 main Scarborough to Whitby road.
If you do this walk, please be very vigilant and careful here, as traffic can be travelling at high speeds in both directions. As you might have gathered, the route crosses straight over here to continue directly on the other side, crossing into a long grassy field, effectively on a bit of a ridge; the landscape dropping on both the right with wide views over the landscape and more steeply on the left into the shallow valley of Burn Howe Dale, the opposite valley side rising up onto Jugger Howe Moor. I believe the Lyke Wake Walk takes the track across Jugger Howe Moor and if you wanted to, it would be perfectly OK as an alternative to the route I took. A lone walker heading eastwards in the distance added a scale to the scene, he looked quite diminutive, small and insignificant and against the grey sky. [Please see my earlier post about a mini-wander on Jugger Howe Moor whilst on holiday with my family from some years ago].
I’d chosen to stay north of Burn Howe Dale, where after about ¾ of a mile the indistinct path drops through some rough woodland, across a small stream via a footbridge, and then another small rise and descent across scrubby moorland to meet Jugger Howe Beck all on paths little more than sheep tracks. With the route in the valley bottom now heading southwards for a short distance, it took quite a bit of concentration to find a footbridge to cross Jugger Howe Beck and make my way through the vegetation.
I needed to pick up a path heading east-west, marked as a tiny dotted black line on my map indicating it may not be an official right of way, so I was surprised to find it was flagged (stone slabs) as it crosses the flat boggy valley floor and picks up where the track across Jugger Howe Moor drops into the valley (there’s another small footbridge over the beck here). I turned right onto the flags, crossed the valley floor heading almost due west, soon starting to rise steeply up onto the huge area of Fylingdales Moor.
The weather had deteriorated somewhat, to the point where I donned waterproofs and I began to wish I had windscreen wipers on my glasses. Although I didn’t know it at the time, I was now back on the route of The Lyke Wake walk, the way ahead marked by deep muddy ruts cutting a path through let’s face it was a quite bleak terrain. I anticipate this would be much more appealing in late summer/autumn with the heather in bloom under blue skies and a warm breeze. That dream was a long way from today’s reality however as there was a decided chill in the rain, although I soon started feeling rather warm and sweaty inside my cag’.
There was now a good stretch of this moorland rising gently (but quite insistently) ahead of me, maybe for the best part of three miles or so, so I now “got my head down”, upped my pace (as much as the terrain allowed). At any one time, the terrain underfoot, the gradient and navigating was nothing to speak of, the hardest part was perhaps the monotony of the landscape. There was little variation to the dreary winter colours of the heathers [browns and greys] almost reflecting the moody flat grey clouds above and patches of drizzle/rain coming (mostly straight into my face) and going interspersed with drier periods.
An oddity that I came across that I hadn’t anticipated at-all though was finding some blue and white police incident tape flapping around in the breeze, one end tied to a post stuck in the ground. This was way out on the moor, and again imagination could lead to all sorts of conclusions: was it a crime scene, a TV set, or perhaps a training event …. Whatever it was or had been, the plastic ribbon had been abandoned to just litter the moors – very unsightly!
It’s funny how the mind plays tricks on you, as I started to feel that I’d walked too far and with no definitive features to take a bearing on, I slowed, stopped, consulted my map, moved on a bit further and rose up a steeper rise for a good stretch. I even back-tracked for a while to review if/where a few tracks had merged across the moors, trying to work out a precise location … a GPS unit might have helped or even a smart phone (which I now own with a grid-ref app installed, but I didn’t have at the time). In the end, I decided to trust my instincts that I needed to go a bit further, so re-ascended the steeper rise and pressed on for a bit longer, scanning the terrain for clues. My decision turned out to be correct (of course it did!) soon reaching the trig point I wanted to reach at Stony Leas just off the main track on the right.
The area is home to a raised piece of land, which I take to be an ancient tumulus or burial mound and there are also some standing stones, again with engravings. The largest of the stones still shows the marks where it was roughhewn and dressed to shape and large C and + carvings suggest to me a Christian root to it’s purpose. Maybe the standing stones were to usurp/claim the pre-Christian burial mound for the church, or as a boundary marker between abbey land-ownership or just parish boundary points. Whatever they signify, it had stopped raining, so became a good spot for a drink of soup and bite to eat to replenish lost energies on the walk up to here.
Whatever the significance of the stones, this was the highest point of the entire walk (299m / 981 feet above sea level) and also the furthest west I was to go. From here, there are wide, open, extensive views all around, it felt very remote. To the north was a sizeable area of forest (Newton House Plantation), eastwards was from where I’d come from, west was MOD land and if you could cross here as the crow flies, would take you across the moors to the A169 road and then on to Goathland village.
South and south-west is again MOD property, marked on my map as danger areas (I assume unexploded bombs/shells and potentially live firing ranges) leading across to a huge triangular, odd-looking, almost pyramidal looking building in the distance. This is the RAF early warning facility, part of Britain and NATO’s defence system on Fylingdales/Lockton High Moors. Strangely, it isn’t marked on the map; because it’s a secret/sensitive site I think; but everyone and his dog world-wide probably knows it’s here. The current incarnation of the radar building has replaced the iconic “golf balls” that have been so well documented in tourist photos whilst travelling past on the A169 (just google it). I must admit the golf ball buildings had a much more photographic quality about them. I wonder if they were completely destroyed in the upgrade or if they are in pieces ready to be reassembled as a museum piece somewhere in the future?
Anyway, as this was the highest, most westerly point of the walk, it would seem a good place to stop this post to be continued on post-5, to follow later.
I hope you’ve enjoyed my scribblings so far …. If you’d like to comment on my diary or any of my pic’s please feel welcome. I’d love to hear from you.