Written by Maureen Robinson
You’ll be spoilt for choice on this delightful walk which is just four miles south-west of Scarborough.
Take public or private transport along the A170 Scarborough to Pickering road, only as far as the road junction near the church in East Ayton. The Church of St John the Baptist is on Main Street opposite the shops, and this is your starting point for whichever option you choose.
Route a) follows the red arrows on the map throughout, using delightful, remote country lanes and being the shorter and drier route in wet weather. From the church go towards the road junction and head up Moor Lane to pass the primary school to your left; Castle Lane (off left), and East Ayton Lodge as you head northwards for almost two miles to meet a bridleway at the top. Here go right alongside Black Rigg Plantation, and keep to the road when it swings right past the Wireless Station to meet Racecourse Road near Irton Mount. Turning right at the road junction with Irton Moor Lane returns you along the A170 Racecourse Road, to your starting point – not forgetting a remarkable refreshment stop with a difference at Betton Farm! You can’t go wrong, it’s so straightforward.
Route b) is 5 miles approximately, and uses a popular bridleway cross-country, to unite with route a) near Black Rigg Plantation.
Start at the church and walk towards the road junction of the B1261 and A170 with Moor Lane. Turn up Moor Lane to pass the school and for this walk turn left on Castle Lane to meet a junction with Castle Gate. Here turn right up the Forge Valley road to see the remains of Ayton Castle overlooking the River Derwent.
Reaching the first fenced car park on your right, walk to the top of the parking area. Keep straight ahead up a well-used bridleway (blue-arrowed on map), amidst the peaceful woodland of Seave Gill, with disused quarries off left.
This gill was cut, or gouged out, by torrential waters that drained from the melting ice fields on the high ground to the north-east. The waters cut a wavy channel through the bedrock of Hambleton oolite, to form a miniature canyon, which you’ll see is flanked by cliffs composed of solid rock.
As you approach a cross-track upon leaving the wood, go left along a grassy, rising track banked to the left and hedged on the right. This narrow path is between an open field and scattered hedging.
Shortly, Whin Covert lies to your right. Keep beside its fenced boundary to meet a cross-track at the top, and the bridleway of route a).
With the driveway to Osborne Lodge before you, turn right and continue beside Black Rigg Plantation, and north of Box Hill Farm to swing right with the road. Descending the lane you can’t miss evidence of the wireless station, and beyond is Irton Mount.
Here, at the cross-roads with Irton Moor Lane, turn right. Keep to the footpath, as you accompany the A170 Racecourse Road to Betton Farm – a great resting place and highlight of the day. Do cross this busy road with care, and make your way to the beautiful tea rooms or restaurant with fantastic views of the Yorkshire Wolds! Having filled your tum, fill your basket with produce from the farm shop and bakery.
Children will love the free play park and animal farm. Don’t forget to view the local crafts, ceramics workshop, and the wood-turner.
Then there’s our favourite – the indoor honey bee exhibition, which is open daily, all the year round from 10am to 4pm. There is an admission charge, but it’s very educational and great fun too. Don’t worry, it’s perfectly safe – you won’t get stung! There is free honey tasting, before you perhaps decide to buy a jar of your favourite locally produced honey.
Let your children dress up as real beekeepers, and they could be the next generation of beekeepers, who knows?
After Betton Farm it’s a short walk back to East Ayton.
Distances: Route a) 4.20 miles; route b) 5 miles.
Refreshment: Betton Farm, East Ayton Lodge on Moor Lane, plenty of inns, restaurants, fish and chips and shops in Ayton.
Map reference: North York Moors Eastern Area OL 27. Scale: 2.5inches = 1 mile.
Christmas Stocking Filler
Driving and Rambling On features 16 scenic drives and rambles plus maps for only £3.30 per copy.
The coloured cover features Filey’s Coble Landing and giant sculpture.
Available from Crag and Moor at 38, Victoria Road (until October 31 only), also by sending a cheque for £3.30 payable to Mrs E.M. Robinson, plus an A5 stamped addressed envelope (53p) to 14 Malvern Crescent, Scarborough.