Trip Report – Bilsdale Circuit, North York Moors, North Yorkshire, England – 24/25th September

Total of 47km (29.2 miles) walked with a height gain of 1320m (4331 feet)

Route taken Saturday 24th September Laskill Bridge- Woolhouse Croft-Low Ewe Cote-Crow Nest-Moor Gate-Round Hill-Sour Milk Hills- Bilsdale Mast-Meggy Mire-Noon Hill-Stoney Wicks-Carlton Banks-Cringle Moor-Cold Moor  – 26km (16.5 miles) – 6.5 hours

Route Taken Sunday 25th September Cold Moor-Wainstones-Hasty Bank-Clay Bank-Urra Moor-Cockayne Ridge-Stump Cross-Bonfield Gill-Old Kiln-Collis Ridge-Roppa Wood-Little Roppa-Laskill Bridge – 21 km (12.7 miles) – 7 hours

This is an area I have visited but not walked before with a great deal of variety of landscape from Grouse moors to steep hillsides and wooded streams – something for every one.

I parked at Laskill Grange, who very kindly let me park there in safety. There is a Forest Enterprise car park about a mile or so from here, but the locals I asked suggested that there can be break ins at this parking area.

I headed up the narrow country lane towards Low Ewe Cote and having arrived, I cut across some fields and followed a tiny path through the heather  down towards Crow Nest.

Across the heather

Here I discovered a ruin nestled in a beautiful hidden valley with a small gill running through it.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful to rebuild this property!

Crow Nest

Crossing the gill,I headed up a short steep bank, where the path disappeared from view, but I kept on my bearing and eventually came out into a small parking area beside a minor road.

Bilsdale Mast

Passing a solidary large tree in the landscape I headed north over a broad track making my way towards Bilsdale Mast in the far distance. The walking was easy on this backpacker’s equivalent of a motorway as in cut through the purple heather as far as the eye could see.

On and on the track went.  For awhile I walked along the path running not far from this track, where I should have actually walked. The track served the grouse moors and walkers seemed to follow this rather the narrow path winding its way between cairns which disappeared completely through lack of use.  Near to the mast I stopped for lunch and rest up. No-one had been seen and the only sound was the strange call of the grouse as they flew their low sorties across the monoculture of heather.

Eventually I arrived at a low outcrop of rock barring my way, Stoney Wicks.

I made my way to the right of this barrier and headed down an incline, before rising up again to walk the path which passed the Gliding Club on my left.

The path dropped down to meet a minor road at Carlton Bank and here I turned right onto the Cleveland Way, a National Trail.

Within a few minutes  I was climbing steeply up the side of Crinkle Moor and at the top surveyed the view from the comfort of a stone bench at the top.  My right knee was starting to hurt, an ongoing problem which I am hoping quad exercises and orthoses will help.

Memorial on Cringle Moor

There was a memorial to a fellow walker which had a map showing the fells and hills from this view point. To the right in the distance was the distinctive outline of Roseberry Topping and straight ahead the smoke stacks and industrial towers of Teesside, and if I squinted and concentrated I could see to the left, in the far distance Cross Fell.

Roseberry Topping

I had to get on, darkness comes so early now compared to the splendid long summer evenings of June and July and I had to find water. I had spied a small spring on the map crossing the Way and once I was down from the top of the Moor, rather gingerly at times because my knee, I was able to replenish my Travel Tap bottle and Platypus.

Now I had read on Geoff’s excellent Backpacking in Britain blog that when he was walking the Cleveland Way, he had camped on Cold Moor. I decided against a further ascent  to the top of this, but instead I found a flattish bit of ground near a rocky out crop, where I could tuck myself away for the night and enjoy the views over the surrounding countryside.

At camp

Having set up camp and phoned Mary, I boiled water for dinner.  Just as I zipped up the tent to shelter my stove from the increasing wind, it started to rain.  Perfect timing!  I read for a while and listened to one of Bob’s podcasts I had stored on my iPod and drifted off to sleep.

Nature called around 6 the next morning, the darkness still with me.  I crawled back into my sleeping bag, got a brew going and with tent door now opened watched the dawn arrive and the lights of Teesside disappear. The morning was pretty claggy  and not that inviting.  Breakfast eaten and kit packed, I left my camping spot at 7.30 to scramble up the hillside above to meet the Cleveland Way at the top of Cold Moor.

Looking towards Wain Stones

The cloud was right down and the views disappointing, so it was head down against the drizzle as I walked up to the Wain Stones ( not the ones in the Peak district!) at the top of the next hill.  I took a few photos and moved swiftly, I saw little value in surveying the view – there wasn’t one, hoping that the cloud would lift around the corner. Unfortunately it was not to lift for many miles.

Wain Stones

I crossed the road at Clay Bank  headed up Carr ridge, following the National Trail until I reached the trig point on Urra Moor, the highest point of the North York Moors National Park and my walk.  I carried on the track along the Cockayne Ridge towards the head of Tripsdale.

Looking at Clay Bank

Bilsdale Mast through the clouds

Greenhow Bank

The views were wonderful!!

The cloud enveloped everything around me, there was little point in taking photographs or stopping, so I made fast progress reaching a road running over the top of Bransdale Moor.

I walked along this for 3 km(1.8 miles), I nicknamed this “the road of death”.  I have never seen so many dead animals on such a short stretch of road and so many different species. Rabbits, grouse, pheasants,hedgehogs and field mice and some squashed so flat, recognition was impossible. Maybe it was some hideous “pastime” that locals participate in these parts.

Leaving the road, for a footpath, I walked across the heather, along tiny paths just visible to me down to the gill at Old Kiln.

I had noticed in a number of places during this walk, paths just disappearing and making it difficult to navigate. As the path was completely lost to me I just made my way using my Garmin as best I could to the stream crossing. Through a wooden gate and then up a narrow path along a conifer plantation.

Continuing westward, I made my way around the edge of Roppa Wood, taking a stile near the southern end of this plantation.

  It was raining quite hard and I had to swap my Montane Lite Speed wind shirt which is great in light drizzle for something more substantial, my Montane Atomic Jacket and over trousers.

The path made its way steeply down hill through chest high bracken and I lost the path a number of times.  Again the path disappeared completely and I vaulted a number of gates separating the sheep fields, eventually arriving close to the start of the walk near Laskill.  A short stretch of road brought me back to my car.

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28 Responses to Trip Report – Bilsdale Circuit, North York Moors, North Yorkshire, England – 24/25th September

  1. owdbum says:

    Great post Mark…top notch pics.

  2. Thanks Owdbum, I appreciate your comments.

  3. Great read good mileage everyday are you training for the tgo challange 🙂

  4. surfnslide says:

    Hi Mark. Really interested to read this post. There aren’t many areas of the UK hills I haven’t walked but the North Yorkshire Moors is one of them. Some great photos here (even on the second day!) and clearly an interesting place to visit and explore. It’s rare to see any write ups of this area so good to get an insight. Unfortunately it’s another one to add to my ever growing list of places I must visit :). It’s actually quite re-assuring to know that even though I consider myself reasonably well travelled in the UK that there are still limitless new hills to climb and new areas to explore
    Cheers, Andy

  5. Alan R says:

    I enjoyed that Mark. A proper walk.

  6. -maria- says:

    It was really enjoyable to read your trip report. Those fields of heather are fascinating!

    • Thank you Maria. The heather is very attractive, but you have to be careful for ticks and adders ( Britain’s only poisonous snake).

      • -maria- says:

        That’s the same in Finland! Adders are the only poisonous snakes, and ticks are nowadays considered as a threat (they were not when I was a child). And our bears and wolves try to avoid us humans, so it really is quite safe to hike in Finland (OK, there might be some nasty humans and the -30 C temperatures in the winter might be considered as a threat, but that’s another story…)

      • No bear and wolves in the UK – last wolf shot in the 17th century, although there are plans to re-introduce them in Scotland.

  7. Good post, Mark Yet another area to go on the “To Do” list!

  8. Nice post Mark, That Wain Stones look interesting. Even in the mist.

  9. backpackingbongos says:

    Looks like you had a nice backpack there Mark. I had completely forgotten about the North York moors, somewhere I have only visited twice. Must go back sometime, considering that they are not really that far away!

  10. Martin Rye says:

    Cracking walk Mark. Enjoyed reading that this morning.

  11. Fraser says:

    You didn’t enjoy the mist? I agree, on mountain, it’s a bit disappointing, but on moor – the perfect complement! 🙂

  12. GeoffC says:

    Another absorbing account Mark.
    I don’t know why the NY Moors are not featured more often in trip reports, we really enjoyed the Cleveland Way, not least because of its variety, yet we have only visited the area twice. A return might be on the cards I think, some great walking there.

  13. Darren says:

    Very interesting description of the moors, seems like you’re well geared up to guide us around. Few questions:
    1) what is the longest period of time you have spent outdoors in the moors without fetching provisions (i.e. living off road-kill etc);
    2) if you’ve been there before, is there sufficient road-kill or edible plants right across the moors to survive out there without provisions, the same goes for water – is there enough clean natural waters sources?
    3) how long would it take you to walk from N to S?
    4) is there any boundaries which restrict routes?

    Would really appreciate any info to the questions above if you find the time. Again, very good post.



    • Darren, thanks for stopping by: I will answer in order:
      1. My first trip to the North York Moors, so I cannot really answer this one – sorry !
      2. There is with my limited knowledge of the area, enough areas of woodland to perhaps support you with edible plants. In certain areas, there is limited water and it may not be clean. I use a Travel Tap filter system, and collect when I come across any water, therefore clean water is not a problem for me.
      3. I would imagine that it would take around 2-3 days to cover North to South depending on route and how many miles you would like to travel in a day.
      4. There are certain areas which are not accessible and the large estates request you keep to paths. It is best to check on an OS map if you are uncertain. Walking off path in the heather and bracken during the summer is not recommended in this area because of sheep ticks and adders.

  14. Lee says:

    Although I do my walking in the Peak District I have visited the North York Moors; I even did the Lyke Wake Walk and the Shepherds’ Round when I was younger, and certainly recognise some of the locations you mention.

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