Leader : Andy Bliss. Distance : 7 miles.
Left click route and profile to enlarge
An excellent turnout of 22 members gathered at the Margrave Heritage Centre on a bright but chilly morning where Andy, the man in charge for the day, was to guide us on a stroll around his own backyard so to speak. The Heritage Centre was established with a grant from the Heritage Fund and is linked to The Tees Valley Wildlife Trust encouraging wild life preservation.
Just through the car park boundary wall and we were on our way along a grassy path from which we crossed a plank bridge and entered a small plantation tramping the banks of a small bubbling burn. We shortly left the stream and headed off onto a more overgrown track with nettles and brambles clearly a hazard for the stout (or should we say foolhardy) souls who had chosen shorts for the day. Leaving the light woodland we emerged onto the path alongside the A171 and climbed a couple of hundred feet or so before turning NW down a steep track through dense woodland. A short sharp uphill stretch, including some slightly dodgy stone steps, brought us into the open again and to the site of an old Ironstone mine. Dismantled in 1930 the mine workshops had been converted into dwellings and Andy pointed out the building that used to house the mine winding gear. After exchanging pleasantries with some locals we left ‘the mine’ and following another slight incline dropped down to the village of Margrave Park where we enjoyed a brief coffee break sitting like hippies at the base of interesting Yorkshire bird like carved Totem Poles.
Margrove Park referred to colloquially as ‘Maggra Park’ or ‘Maggra’, takes its name from a nearby farm and from the deer park that was in the vicinity in years gone by. The houses were built in a square in the 1850s to house workers from the nearby mine. On closure of the mine is reputed that in 1940 the houses were sold to the occupiers for £160, a mortgage being available from Guisborough Provident Society (The Co-op) which was paid back at ten shillings a week with the grocery bill. (what you could get for ten bob in those days)?
Refreshed we retraced our steps for a way back to Margrove Road along which we travelled for a while until turning sharp NW we entered the periphery of the Margrove Ponds bird sanctuary. Looked on with scorn by a rather distinguished swan we continued slightly uphill to the perimeter of the interestingly named Forty Pence Wood which we followed until our route conjoined for a short way with the grand old lady of walks the Cleveland Way which took us very conveniently to the picnic area adjacent the Fox & Hounds where lunch was ‘taken’ al fresco.
Grub gone, comfort stops made and a time on the swings for the juveniles among us and we were off again on the return leg of our journey. Another stretch of roadside walking ensued this time travelling west alongside the hectic A171 pausing for a while to view the 8 arch Waterfall viaduct that once carried the now disused Cleveland Railway and which served many of the ironstone mines in the area. The magnificent structure is actually very close to the main road, but is becoming harder to see over the years due to encroaching trees and bushes.
‘Swinging Sixties’ or ‘Kids will be kids’
Turning sharp back on ourselves we then completed our walk through a quite dense part of Wileycat Wood skirting Slapeworth and back to our starting place from where we swiftly decamped to enjoy a post walk aperitif at the local Fox & Hounds boozer.
A nice walk on what turned out to be a nice day in an area not too familiar to many of us
Trivia. For those members attending the Melrose Weekend in October it might be of interest to know that there is a Scottish Country Dance named after the Wiley Cat Wood. Instructions available on request from the Secretary. (conditions apply)