Enjoy a walk in ancient woodlands

Raincliffe Woods in autumn
Raincliffe Woods in autumn

by Maureen Robinson

Enjoy this short, local walk which is no more than three miles and is suitable for all ages. Traversing superb countryside, this route crosses agricultural land, as well as contrasting scenes in Raincliffe Woods. A considerate amount of work has been devoted to helping visitors enjoy the woodland, and the wildlife it supports.

Lying about four miles due west of Scarborough, Hazel Head car park is situated at the northern-most end of Forge Valley, near the junction of Mowthorp Road and Low Road.

From the car park, walk down Mowthorp Road, passing four bungalows to the right before reaching bungalow number five on the left.

Here, turn right along a public bridleway to Thorn Park Farm. The broad track is followed towards the farmhouse.

Remain on the bridleway as it passes in front of Thorn Park Farm and rises to a gate. Beyond the gate, a track veers right and descends. Please leash any dogs as your track sweeps left, as cattle may be grazing in the vicinity.

Enter a gate and proceed with hedging and trees to the left.

Go through a gateway alongside a ditch, and arable land lies to the right.

Keep to the bridleway, which soon provides an exit into Low Road. Turn left along Low Road with woodland either side. You’ll see that clearings have been made in the woodland to provide car parks and popular picnic areas. Reach Raincliffe Gate off right.

Cross Raincliffe Gate car park and picnic area to your right, and enter Raincliffe Wood. You’re now on a path that rises gently through deciduous woodland. Remain on this track throughout the woods, ignoring any deviations Your route soon swings right through coniferous woodland where graceful larch trees feature.

Just ahead, you meet the main track named Middle Road. Turn right here, and if you’ve brought a picnic you’ll find tables and benches for your convenience. Do you have any litter? Please use any litter bins provided, or take your 
unwanted items home to 
dispose of later.

Approaching the site of the old Forestry Saw Mill, keep the site to your right and continue through Raincliffe Woods. Shortly, you descend to leave the woodland and enter Green Gate car park.

The ancient woodlands of Forge Valley are so named on account of this valley having been the scene of charcoal making. In the 14th century, iron forges were fuelled by charcoal made in these woods.

From Green Gate car park, turn left and walk round the bend into Mowthorp Road. Cross with care, to return to Hazel Head, and your departure point.

Distance: Almost 3 miles.

Refreshment: Take a picnic, or if returning along Low Road towards Throxenby Mere, why not dine at Ox Pasture Farm and Country House Hotel? This most impressive hotel is situated in enchanting country surroundings, with large parking areas.

An alternative is to drive alongside the River Derwent through delightful Forge Valley into West Ayton, providing an admirable selection of refreshment stops!

NB. The suggested route is flexible, and provides a rough guide to its attractions. Take binoculars to appreciate the wildlife that may be observed when you walk quietly.