Leader : Ian Bagshaw. Distance : 8 miles
Storm Brian was forecast but it was coming in from the west which was some slight comfort. Our 16 brave walkers prepared for the worst and dressed up in their warmest kit and made preparations for the predicted storm. In actual fact the skies were clear and there was some sunshine, the lull before the storm.
The Village of Swainby nestles to the north of the Cleveland Hills and is divided by a tree-lined stream. In the 14th century the Black Death came to the neighbouring village of Whorlton and the inhabitants of Whorlton upped sticks and moved down the road to Swainby which is where some land workers lived. In the 19th century the ironstone mines at Scugdale opened and Swainby became something of a frontier town, full of miners and their equipment. Not only was Ironstone mined but also Jet which had become popular because of Queen Victoria’s mourning jewellery. Jet is fossilised wood and it was known to the Celts as Freya’s tears. Little survives of Whorlton following the Black Death apart from Holy Cross Church and the Castle. The Castle was besieged in the civil war and the marks of cannonballs can be seen on the east wall of the castle. But enough of the interesting stuff, The Blacksmiths Arms established in 1775 and The Black Horse beckon to quench the thirst of our walkers and there is still the walk to do!!
Our route from beside the Church took us up to Scugdale (just mentioned) from where we joined The Cleveland Way beloved to all of us walking on the Cleveland Hills. The track was very pleasant as we wound our way through woods, the trees fast losing their leaves, Sylvia felt it would have been nice in the Spring with the bluebells. Bob wished we had not remembered his 77th Birthday by signing Happy Birthday. After ten past elevenses we continued on The Cleveland Way down to Scugdale Beck which was shallow and allowed us to have a paddle followed by the start of the climb. Initially to Hollin Hill Farm followed by the sharp ascent up onto Round Hill. The weather stayed fair and the views were delightful. Behind us to the Yorkshire Dales and to the North East to Roseberry Topping and Teesside. Our leader was leading from the rear at this point but the ‘pioneers’ sensibly stopped at just the right place for the start of our descent down a gully to a collapsed stone wall which is where we had lunch.
At one-o-clock we recommenced our walk climbing over a small spoil heap before entering woodland through a wooden gate. Our descent now was interesting as the larch trees had shed their needles, it had rained and it was slippery but we all got down to the valley without a fall. We soon reached Whorl Hill which is the iconic hill capped with evergreen trees which appears on the OS book of walks for this area. A large number of Roman silver coins were dug up by a farmer on Whorl Hill. The ascent through trees is sharp but the track which runs round the hill was soon reached and followed to its end from where we followed a field track back down into Whorlton. Some visited the Church and a few more visited the Castle. But what’s that I feel? raindrops and not just the odd raindrop but more and more and heavier and heavier “Good afternoon Brian thank you for delaying your arrival until just before 3pm when we got back to our cars”.
Probably about 7 miles but allowing plenty of time for a visit to the pub or the Rusty Bicycle café (reviewed by our leader for Trip Adviser) where Bob celebrated his birthday with a cup of tea and a scone.
For the record: 335 metres of ascent.