North Yorkshire Walk - Glaisedale, North York Moors
PUBLISHED: 10:09 05 March 2014 | UPDATED: 18:47 17 February 2020
A story of adventure adds romance to a wonderful walk in North Yorkshire
This walk was published in March 2014, so the details of the route may no longer be accurate, we do advise these articles should only be used as a guideline for any potential route you take and you should double check an up to date map before you set off.
The story behind Beggar's Bridge makes this 400-year-old stone span one of Yorkshire's most romantic monuments, with an atmosphere that even the neighbouring road bridge and the overshadowing railway viaduct cannot entirely dispel. Its story dates back to the days of the Spanish Armada and a love-lorn local youth. Young Thomas Ferris was a poor boy who courted Agnes, the daughter of the wealthy local squire who did not approve of her impecunious suitor. So he resolved to go to sea to make his fortune and win her hand. Legend has it that the night before his departure the young lovers could not meet because the River Esk which ran between them was in spate.
Thomas fought against the Armada alongside Sir Francis Drake and later sailed to the West Indies where he dabbled in what the Spanish may have described, not entirely unreasonably, as piracy.
As a result he returned to England master of a captured ship and a wealthy man.
He married Agnes and settled in Hull where he lived a respectable life, founding a shipping business, becoming sheriff and later mayor of the city.
He had the bridge built in 1619, so the story goes, so that future lovers would never be separated by the uncaring Esk.
Over the following centuries the bridge was used by trains of packhorses carrying goods across the moors to and from the coast and this walk follows in their wake using an old stone causey through the woods.
From the car park by Beggar's Bridge, near Glaisdale Station, go under the railway arch and take a footbridge across a stream signed to Egton Bridge. Climb a flight of steps and then turn left to follow the Esk downstream. The track undulates and twists, joining the old causey with a groove worn deep into the stones by the hooves of countless ponies.
When it reaches a lane turn right uphill. This is the start of a mile-long climb between the cottages of Delves and on towards the high moors. It is possible to avoid the tarmac by a convoluted dog leg through farms to the east of the road but the lane is usually so quiet it is enjoyable enough to walk and the views so extensive the diversion is scarcely worth the effort.
Just beyond a cattle grid take a signed sunken footpath heading off diagonally rightwards across the heather towards a small plantation with a bird's eye view of the farms and fields of Glaisdale spread out below. The path goes through a gate to pass trees and cleared ground until it reaches a stile across the track. Here turn right through a gate on the right and descend another track which goes downhill before starting to traverse leftwards downhill to reach Bank House Farm. Turn left along the access track to reach a lane. Here turn left and follow the lane to Low Gill Beck Farm. Follow the road rightwards round the buildings for a few yards and then take a bridleway through a gate on the right which heads off across the dale making for the buildings of Plum Tree Farm on the opposite slope. Waymarkers point the route across several fields and a small bridge to the farm and on up to the road.
Turn left along this for about 75 yards until, directly opposite the drive to Hollins Farm, a path leads up through the bracken, the sign for which is hidden deep in the undergrowth. At first this climbs directly uphill before angling rightwards to climb the moor. Cross a vehicle track and carry on climbing the moor, which is now pathless - or rather blessed with many faint trods, all of which carry on upwards to reach another wide track which descends the broad ridge of Glaisdale Rigg. Turn right along this and follow it all the way down to the village.
At a triangular green decorated with a single tree turn right into the village. After passing the post office and butcher's shop turn left downhill down a lane marked 'local traffic only'. This drops steeply downhill between cottages before rejoining the lively Esk. Carry on until it meets the main road by the Arncliffe Arms pub and café. Turn left and take care over the next short stretch to the railway station and car park just beyond.
Start/finish: Car park by Beggar's Bridge. Can also be reached easily by train on the Esk Valley Whitby-Middlesbrough line though, maddeningly, there is no Sunday service.
Height gain: 975ft/300m
Time: 3-4 hours
Terrain: Woods and moorland tracks, farm roads and quiet lanes
Refreshments: Café and pub in Glaisdale