North York Moors Walk - Chop Gate
PUBLISHED: 00:00 11 October 2017
Take in the beauty of the North York Moors as you walk along its pathways and wooded tracks
Chop Gate – pronounce it ‘Chop Yat’ – is a relatively small village but has a significance that belies its size for walkers who enjoy striding out over the heather and dales of the North York Moors and a long tradition of welcoming hikers. It is the focal point of many routes and the 110-mile long Cleveland Way national trail, which is used for part of this walk, runs just a few miles to the north.
The ‘Gate’ in its name refers not to a barrier but is the old Norse word for a road (familiar from so many of York’s Viking street names). The ‘Chop’ is thought to be a corruption of the old word ‘ceap’ for a pedlar, which suggests the road which passes through the village has been a trading route for many centuries. Today the tarmac is still busy but this walk, which also visits the intriguingly eroded rocks of the Wainstones, avoids it by taking to the flanking moors using old tracks and a quiet lane.
1. From the village, turn left onto the Carlton road and then immediately take a track which curls round behind the first house on the right. This rises in a delightful, if in places a slightly overgrown, sunken bridleway which climbs steadily towards Cold Moor. When the path reaches the moor gate carry on straight ahead, initially following a wall on the right before the track breaks away slightly leftwards uphill, climbing steadily to the crest of the moor and ignoring all turnings to left or right. As it gains height the distinctive outline of Roseberry Topping appears ahead with glimpses of the North Sea beyond.
2. The ridge narrows until it arrives at an escarpment where the round falls away and the Cleveland Plain spreads at your feet with the towers of Middlesbrough ahead. Here the track meets the flagstoned path of the Cleveland Way long distance trail coming in from the left. Turn right along this, following it as it drops into Garfit Gap with the rocks of the Wainstones on the opposite flank. This distinctive outcrop is popular with picnickers who often have groups of rock climbers to keep them entertained. This next section of the escarpment is known as Hasty Bank and the flagged path continues along the rim with views over Cleveland to the North Sea and down the great length of Bilsdale to the south. Continue following the flagstoned way as it drops down to meet a road.
3. It is now time to say goodbye to the easy walking of the Cleveland Way which continues up the hillside beyond. Instead, cross the road and go through a wide gate on the right and take an unmade road heading rightwards downhill to begin the descent of Bilsdale. It drops pleasantly beside a plantation until it reaches a right hand bend. Follow the unmade road uphill but after a couple of hundred yards look out for a stile on the right. Cross this and continue, now on the other side of the wall, to the corner of the plantation and then follow waymarks downhill. At the end of the trees take the narrow waymarked path leftwards through the bracken before crossing a footbridge and climbing a wooded slope on the opposite bank. When the path emerges from the trees, go rightwards round the edge of the field with the buildings of Urra ahead. Halfway round look out for a stile on the right, cross this and continue in the same line on the other side of the hedge still aiming for Urra. When the path reaches a farm track follow this ahead to a road on the edge of the hamlet.
4. At the tarmac turn left to wind through the houses. This lane sees little traffic, as evidenced by the grass strip growing up parts of it, but is not entirely unused by vehicles, so remain alert. Any navigation problems are now over as the lane is followed for more than a mile to the neatly-kempt community of Seave Green, passing along the way the sturdy church of St Hilda. The easy walking underfoot allows a proper appreciation of the huge sweep of the valley below.
When the lane reaches the main valley road, cross over and turn left down it to Chop Gate half a mile further on. If you prefer to avoid this final bit of road walking, head up the wide track directly opposite, which leads up to the bridleway taken at the start of the walk. Turn left down this back to Chop Gate.
Start/finish: Chop Gate on the B1257
Terrain: Moorland tracks, wooded paths, quiet lane
Time: 3–31/2 hours
Parking: Some roadside in Chop Gate or by village hall
Refreshment: Pub in Chop Gate
Map: OS OL26 North York Moors Western