North York Moors walk - Lockton
PUBLISHED: 00:00 12 September 2018
Enjoy this walk with its secretive paths through shady woods starting from a classic North York Moors village
Despite its name, many of the North York Moors National Park’s most attractive features are not moors at all. Its villages are often exquisite and the walking to be found in its deeply-cut valleys is some of the finest in England. This outing enjoys some of these, taking secretive paths through shady woods and hidden farms. It starts from Lockton, a classic moors community mentioned in the Domesday Book and standing just off the main Whitby road north of Pickering. There is a straggling main street flanked by the park’s trademark honey-coloured stone cottages capped with red pantile roofs and the mediaeval church of St Giles with its squat tower.
1. Head westwards down the main street to the tiny informal village green and where the main road swings rightwards to the neighbouring village of Levisham carry on straight ahead passing more picturesque cottages to where the lane ends. Here climb over a stone stile leading into a narrow, enclosed path. Follow it to its end but ignore the wide path branching leftwards and instead head diagonally down a short flight of steps to take a steep path traversing down the slope to join a lane. Turn left over the bridge crossing Levisham Beck and start to climb the other side, going round a left hand bend after which look out for a broad track on the left. Although signed merely as a bridleway this is part of the Tabular Hills Walk, which while not officially part of the Cleveland Way National Trail, owes its existence to it. The route was created in the 1970s by local enthusiasts to join the one end of the Way at Helmsley to Scalby Mills near Scarborough to create a circuit of the national park. They christened their effort appropriately ‘The Missing Link’ before a slightly refined route was formally adopted as The Tabular Hills.
2. The path drops down through trees and at the bottom look left to see the now abandoned and roofless church of St Mary which once served Lockton and neighbouring Levisham though its isolated position was probably not really convenient for either community.
The path continues along the fringe of the wood, slightly overgrown in places but always discernible, following a more or less level course along the valley through a succession of pastures. When it reaches a low waymarker indicating it turns right through a gate take this to the end of the wood where the track comes to the buildings of Farwath farm. Go through a couple of small paddocks behind the farm buildings to cross a stream by a wooden footbridge. On the far side of this bridge turn left away from the buildings and follow a farm road through a gate and then turn immediately right along the signed bridleway running along the dale bottom.
3. Farwath stands on the North York Moors railway and the track briefly runs parallel to the line and, if you are lucky with your timing, you may see one of the restored trains. Soon the track turns sharply left uphill for the short, steep ascent of Cross Dale. At the top keep well to the right of the farm buildings and leave the field by an enclosed track in the top right hand corner of the field. When it emerges on the farm’s access road carry on straight ahead across open fields - a marked contrast to the enclosed deep wooded dales of the first section - to reach the main Pickering road and the Fox and Rabbit pub, which makes a handy midway refreshment stop.
4. The next section starts on another enclosed path directly behind the pub and skirting the buildings of the neighbouring farm. Follow the clearly waymarked route through more fields until it dips down into woodland. At a fork take the waymarked path to the left, dropping steeply down through the trees. When it reaches a pasture carry on half leftwards down to reach a dirt road by High Dalby House. Follow this uphill, signed to Lockton, until just by the gates of Staindale Lodge take a stile on the right, again signed to Lockton, and head back down the drive until a sign on the left also points to Lockton. The path meanders first through woodlands and then along a sunken way enclosed by trees and bushes to arrive back on the main road. Cross over and take the signed lane into back Lockton.
Distance: 5.5 miles/9km
Terrain: Field paths and woodland tracks
Time: 3 hours
Parking: Roadside in Lockton or in the small ‘square’ at the entrance to the village
Refreshment: Café in Lockton, pubs at Fox and Rabbit and in Levisham
Map: OS OL27 North York Moors Eastern Area