Leader : Marg West Distance : 7.5 miles.
As we assembled in the car park of the Jolly Sailor for our Saturday Experience and not being too long out of the Festive Season the words of a well known carol came to mind:
In the bleak midwinter
Frosty wind made moan
Earth stood hard as iron
Water like a stone
To be frank it was cold, b****y cold. But despite the dire warnings from Carol our beloved morning media weather forecaster we had all made the tough decision to exchange the pleasures of the duvet for the delights of an exhilarating tramp over the exposed North York Moors.
We were six
The weather did not allow time for excessive pleasantries so as soon as we were all booted up we were off. Downhill first which, even to the uninitiated meant that somewhere along the way we had to regain the descent, and past a plethora of clay pigeon skeets known locally we were to discover as Robin Hood’s Butts. Childhood memories tell us that the good Robin was a bow & arrow chap so where the gun connection originates is anybody’s guess.
From the bottom of the lane we began a short moderate climb up to Gerrick Moor where we first felt the full ferocity of the prevailing wind. The conditions underfoot were not too difficult as fortunately the heather was not at its zenith but the furrowed tracks formed by vehicles servicing the game bird stations made walking just a little challenging. A seamless transition saw us continue the ascent onto Danby Low Moor where we paused for a photo shoot at what was, at 268m, to be the highest point of the day and interestingly called Siss Cross. We did at one stage come across a short section of one of the moor’s famous Trods which served as a reminder that we were not the first to pass this way.
Keen to seek lower altitudes we did not dally long and commenced our descent through the heather clad moors to reach the village of Danby where a welcome call for lunch was made. Sitting ‘neath the steely gaze of The Duke of Wellington from his perch over the pub that bears his name we resisted entreaties to partake of the tea and biscuits available in the village hall for fear we would be reluctant to leave. Instead we ate our humble fare in huddled groups until ere long the two minute warning heralded our imminent departure.
As Danby was the lowest point on our walk it goes without saying that the only way thereafter was up so we set off climbing and skirting the Moors Centre we passed Clitterbeck with its history of mining before reaching Clitterbeck farm where the incumbent farmer was painstakingly making valiant attempts to repair the deteriorating farm track. From there we were on schedule to take on another spell of heather bashing stroll but for a while confusion reigned over the precise route so good sense prevailed and we opted for a short spell of road walking. This turned out to be a good decision as the scheduled way was observed as being of very dubious quality.
Not long afterwards we turned on to what seemed to be an old drovers track which in turn took us back towards the butts again and the short sharp incline home. Soon we were warming in the welcome arms of The Jolly Sailor (metaphorically speaking), slightly damp but once again invigorated after a walk in he wild.