2018_06_02 Sleights

Leader : Elaine Anderson.             Distance : 7.5 miles.

Left click route and profile to enlarge


Can there be a better place to be on a Saturday in June than at the edge of a wild bleak North Yorks moor? Well depending on your proclivity maybe yes but then if, like we assembled 10, you enjoy the great outdoors then probably no.

Parked just off the minor Goathland Road we booted up and then immediately ran the gauntlet of that ‘Indianapolis’ racetrack of the moors, the deadly A169 Coast Road. Thankfully we all negotiated it safely.

Our tramp began in a South Easterly direction along the line of the Whinstone Ridge. Whinstone is a hard rock and was used for road building and cobblestones. It was so special that Leeds City Council quarried around Great Ayton and Sleights and evidence of its importance even today was illustrated by the massive piles of the chippings adjacent our parking place.

Just a short time on our way we paused to investigate two obelisks standing cheek by jowl at the side of the track. The stones, which are thought may be prehistoric, in fact stand atop what is considered to be a Bronze Age barrow. (a burial place) of which there are many on the moors around. Interestingly the stones have later inscriptions (‘Sneaton Libert Assize 1784’ on one) marking territorial boundaries of the past.

Leaving the stones we headed in north east over open ground, crossing the interestingly named Parsley Beck, occasionally climbing gently and at times a little uncomfortable underfoot but thankfully dry. “No major climbs as far as I can remember” said our leader, our only concern being how good was her memory?

Soon after passing through a semi deserted Leas Head farm we reached one of the highlights of the day, the magical Falling Foss waterfall. Twinkling through the trees its 30 feet drop sent out a dazzling spray, a delightful surprise. Adjacent the falls and close to the little narrow plank footbridge the tea shop was open for business. The shop originally a gamekeeper’s cottage was built in the 1780s and renovated in 2008, for its current function. A stone built into the garden wall is inscribed ‘Sneaton Lord’ and it may be of interest to the wealthy among us that the Manorial Council are offering the Lordship of Sneaton for sale. Now how about that?

Having enjoyed the brief interlude we retraced our steps a little and turned onto a boardwalk signalling part of dear old Alf Wainwright’s Coast to Coast trail. To this day it is still not recognised as a National Trail yet it is universally acknowledged as one of the ‘great walks’.

Falling Foss

Twenty five minutes to lunch we were told so turning due south we eventually left the famous trail and dropped to the lowest point of the day, the delightful picnic spot alongside Little May Beck.

As is the norm when reclining in lovely surroundings the two minute claxon sounded prematurely and we were on our way again. A little road walking, of the uphill variety, followed before we turned off left into the Foss Plantation once again, effectively heading for home.

On our journey we happened upon a little distressed lamb that appeared to be searching for its mum. But unable to ascertain which of the surrounding flocks the little one called home, we ,in time honoured Little Bo Peep style, left it alone hoping it would soon re-join its pals, wagging its tail behind it. We trust it made it back as indeed we did after yet again risking life and limb crossing the coastal highway.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Alf Wainright


In time honoured fashion we celebrated our day in the comfort of the local boozer, in this case the Plough Inn, having timed the journey to the second as mother nature unleashed her precipitation with vengeance as we dashed for cover.

Another lovely stroll over our historic moors.