by Maureen Robinson
This lovely autumn walk could be described as a bit of an adventure! Thanks to our pal Martin, new paths were revealed to include Littlebeck Wood Nature Reserve –a little gem!
Access to the start is by taking the A171 Scarborough to Whitby road past the Flask Inn as far as Sneaton Corner, where you turn off along the B1416 as signed to Ruswarp. About 1.5 miles ahead is Redgate. Check the signs and head to Falling Foss, not to May Beck or Littlebeck. Almost a mile ahead is a car park from where this walk begins.
Start. Leaving the car park pass the notice regarding ‘No public vehicle access’, and go between walling to descend steps into Great Wood. Meet a sign and turn left along a footpath high above the valley on your right. Very shortly you hear rushing water, and reach a fenced viewing platform from where one can stand in awe of the wondrous waterfall at Falling Foss. As it tumbles into the pool admire the golds, bronze and yellows of autumn leaves floating on the surface.
Follow fencing to a tea garden at Midge Hall. Although drinks and cakes were served when we visited on September 27, I regret to say that it is now closed for the winter. We must call next year when it re-opens in April. The house you see was originally built as a game-keeper’s cottage in 1790. An information board gives details of its history, when open.
Leaving by the gate, cross the wooden footbridge over the beck and ascend the track straight ahead. Turn right at the top, with the road bridge behind you.
Reaching a metal gate, you’ve arrived at Foss Farm, but only barns remain to your right. It was once a hostelry on the old limer’s road from Lockton quarries to farms near Whitby.
About 60m beyond the barns, pass through a gate, and then some 300m ahead you’ll observe a three-fingered post. Here, turn right along the blue-arrowed bridleway. The grassy path passes between hedging, with a muddy area to the right.
Walk up the field with hedging to the left and an electricity post to the right. Gorse bushes feature near the top.
Descend to the foot of the field and walk beneath oak trees to enter a gate with a sign Leashead. Cross the bridge over the beck near a small waterfall. Turn left up stone steps as indicated on a board by walling, ‘To Intake Farm and Littlebeck’. Cross a stile into a field, and farm buildings are to your left.
Follow a stony farm track cutting across the field to meet a metal field gate, and a four-finger post. Here turn right on a muddy bridleway along the edge of a field hedged to the right. Follow this and a farm track through a blue-arrowed gate with the field boundary to the left. Blackberries in season!
Go through an open gateway and the track peters out as you approach a farm gate.
Entering the gate, bear right from this blue-arrowed gate and a grassy footpath leads alongside deciduous woodland to your left. Next, a fieldgate opens into a wood and Yorkshire Wildlife Trust welcomes you to Little Beck Wood Nature Reserve.
Keep to the narrow, fern-fringed path and it soon descends woodland on a well-used narrow path.
Leave the woodland by a handgate, and cross a stream to find a convenient roadside seat in Littlebeck village. The Methodist Chapel (1890) is to your left, and an interesting information board close by will answer all your questions!
We enjoyed a flask of coffee here, and observed a heron in flight.
Refreshment over, and your return route lies beyond the information board, to ascend the hill and negotiate the bend to a fine house and garage to the left. Opposite the garage is a seat and a nearby sign indicating the route to Falling Foss.
Entering Littlebeck Wood, a good path leads high above the beck. Do pause to read the attractive information board regarding the local wildlife. Wooden foot-bridge and duck-boarding span the wettest areas of the route.
Over a wooden footbridge crossing a stream you discover an overgrown spoil heap of shale from former alum quarries.
Climb the steps to the right, and skirt the spoil heap to descend steps and proceed through the wood.
Eventually, the path rises steeply to The Hermitage, seen on your left. This curiosity provides an admirable shelter from inclement weather. It has been hewn out of a solid boulder. There is seating inside for several people, and children love it.
Distant horizons can be admired from the viewing platform before leaving The Hermitage by the upper path.
You’ll observe Newton House on the left, which was built as an 18th century shooting lodge. Later, it became an outdoor centre.
Go straight on along broad path and bear right as waymarked by a yellow arrow. Keep to the obvious route, and a three-fingered post directs you straight on, uphill to the car park. Leave between walling and bear right to your starting point.
Distance: Almost 4 miles.
Refreshment: None until April when Midge Hall re-opens. Take a picnic.
Recommended: OS Explorer Map. North York Moors Eastern Area - OL27, 2½” to 1 mile.
Christmas stocking filler
A new volume of Rural Rambles by Maureen Robinson, is now available from sole agents Crag & Moor Outdoor Shop, 38 Victoria Road, Scarborough – 17 walks and maps for only £3 per copy. All profits donated to Scarborough’s RNLI.