Weekend Walk: Newton Dale & Levisham

The village pond at Newton-on-Rawcliffe
The village pond at Newton-on-Rawcliffe

The view over Newton Dale is one of the finest in the North York Moors, and it comes to life in specular fashion whenever a steam train on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway is passing through.

The line was engineered by George Stephenson in 1836, closed in 1965 but then reopened in 1973 to become the most successful privately operated steam railway in the UK. It is crossed by the route at Levisham station, where time seems to have stopped several decades ago, and once again at the remote hamlet of Farwath. Turning point of the walk is the picturesque village of Levisham. Between this point and Farwath the route uses a track known as Sleights Road, once the main road between Whitby and Pickering. Look out for siskins and great spotted woodpeckers in the wooded dale.

1. From Newton-on-Rawcliffe village pond walk north to the end of the village. At the derestriction signs go right on a public footpath signposted to Levisham. A great view over Newton Dale is soon presented. Go left over a stile next to a well-placed bench, and follow a steep path leading downhill to Pickering Beck and a level crossing at Levisham Station.

2. Walk up the road ahead and turn right just after a house. The path leads through woods and emerges from trees to strike uphill, then bears right to cross a bridleway and take a grassy track across the hillside. Follow it to a stile, and on the other side turn left to accompany a wall and eventually join a lane into Levisham.

3. Walk down the main street and continue ahead as it leaves the houses and winds downhill. Look for a track on the right and at a fork go left to pass the ruin of St. Mary’s Church. Cross Levisham Beck and further on join a good track known as Sleights Road, which descends back into Newton Dale and arrives at the tiny settlement of Farwath.

4. Cross the railway line with care and turn right onto a track known as Farwath Road. It angles uphill then bends left to reach a farm road. Turn right and pass Howlgate Farm to follow East Brow Road. Continue straight ahead at East Brow House and follow the track to take a left turn back to Newton-on-Rawcliffe. At the village street go right to return to the pond.

Looking across the wooded gorge of Newton Dale

Looking across the wooded gorge of Newton Dale

Difficulty rating: 3 stars

Distance: 6 miles

Time: 3 hours

Map: Ordnance Survey Explorer (1:25,000) sheet OL27, North York Moors Eastern Area

Parking: Responsible street parking, Newton-on-Rawcliffe.

Public transport: Start walk from Point 2 (Levisham station) by taking North Yorkshire Moors train from Pickering or Grosmont. Pickering is on 128 bus route between Scarborough and Helmsley. For train times visit www.nymr.co.uk and bus times call Traveline 0871 2002233 (charges apply).

Refreshments: Newton-on-Rawcliffe, Levisham Station (weekends/bank hols), Levisham village.

Toilets: Levisham station, and for refreshment customers.