Home to the North York Moors

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Well it’s been a while since my last update. Working towards a house move has gotten in the way of my adventures in the hills, but nevertheless has been very enjoyable. I’ve still been finding time to have fun outdoors, just no time to write about it 🙂

My original plan for today was to head to the Lakes but when i got up I just wasn’t feeling it. I wanted a day of just letting the boots take me where they wanted to go and no real need for any map reading or planning. Days like that are what the North York Moors are made for (at least for me anyway). When i first returned to walking, the Moors are where I spent most of my weekends. Learning the paths, linking different routes together, exploring and having many great adventures.

This is also one of the reasons I mainly walk solo. I like to be able to make things up on the day rather than have anything too structured, the only person I walk with who is happy to do that also is my lovely wife, my partner in this journey through life who is only too happy to stick boots on and just go for it and see what happens.

I always carry a map.

I always know where I am.

I don’t always know where I’m going 😉

Once I’ve walked a path I pretty much know it for evermore so when I want a day of not having to look at a map and just making it up on the ground then the Moors is always the place to be for me. I know that, with my knowledge of the paths up there, I can have a great day without doing any planning in advance. The added bonus is that when you walk on the Moors, you can pretty much have the day to yourself. Once you’re away from the main tourist areas the only noise you hear is the noise of nature. It really is beautiful to experience. This is why I love the Moors so much and no matter how long it is between my visits it always feels like coming home when I return there again. There is magic to those Moors that soothes the soul, it’s a beautiful place to be.

When I left home I had two areas in mind as a starting point, Sutton Bank or Osmotherley. Both are great places to walk from. Sutton Bank has what James Herriot claimed to be “England’s finest view” (and it is quite fine indeed). Osmotherley has a fantastic walk up to the top of Black Hambleton and beautiful views down into the Vale of York, this also happens to be one of my favourite spots for lunch, sat on the top of Black Hambleton ,in Spring or Summer, enjoying the sunshine and the beauty of Yorkshire. What more could anyone need?

As i turned off the A1 towards Thirsk, Sutton Bank won though, there is a special place in my heart for Sutton Bank. My first solo walk on the North York Moors was done here and it always draws me back. I’ve walked here in sunshine, fog, rain and snow and I’ve loved every single one of those walks. So today I returned once more, to see what she had to share with me this time.

Today I was also going to be breaking in my new Scarpa Manta Pro boots, bought primarily for winter hill and mountain walking but they needed to be given a proper walk so my usual hill boots , Meindl Bhutans, were left in the car.

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Starting from Sutton Bank visitor centre I headed out on the Cleveland Way towards the White Horse, dropping down off the main path once I got to the gliding club. If you’ve never been up here this is a great place to stop and watch the gliders taking off from the cliff tops, just keep an eye out as they do come over the path quite low to the ground. My route now took me through the trees below the cliffs to the car park at the White Horse. Then doubling back on myself to circle below Hood hill. This is where the fun started, I was confronted with a field of mud to traverse. Normally this isn’t an issue but with new boots on that first step into mud is always very, very hard to take.  I looked left and right to try and find a route that was less muddy but it didn’t exist. As painful as it was to do I was going to have to go for it. My shiny new boots would shine no more (at least not till I’d got them home and cleaned them).

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The field of mud completed I headed over to another favourite of mine, Lake Gormire. This sits below the cliffs at Sutton Bank and is a great place to just sit and enjoy the peace. There’s a good reason why it’s peaceful, the climb back up to the cliff tops is hard, hard work. At this time of year it’s even harder. The paths up are inches deep in mud. Suck your boots off mud. Pull you back down the slope mud. Mud that is so desperate to own your boots it just won’t let go. Each time I do this climb I swear it’s the last, and it never is. I return again and again because, despite it being hard work, the views, when you finally get to the top are worth every hard fought for inch of climb.

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The return to the car was an easy stroll along the Cleveland Way in the gathering darkness. Yet again the North York Moors had worked her magic, put a spring in my step and made me feel so happy to be alive. I love this place 🙂

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