One of our favourite walking areas is Harwood Dale – a sheltered farming valley and village surrounded by forests. Although this route has just the Mill Inn for possible refreshment, The Grainary is quite close. With its tea rooms and farm shop, wildflower meadows and wildlife trails, along with its plant centre, you can include this admirably in your day out!
This very pretty walk of four miles is extremely varied. Access to the starting point is from the A171, turning off at Helwath Bridge along Helwath Road. Alternatively, from Scarborough, go up Scalby’s Hay Brow towards Hackness. Turn right from Suffield along the Reasty Road to pass the Mill Inn, and park near Chapel Farm.
Start just above Chapel Farm on the right verge, where a sign reads: ‘Bridleway to Lilla’. Cross the smart, tree-planted green opposite, to find stone walling beside a path, and descend the bridleway with fields either side, to meet a field gate. Enter, and closing the gate continue straight ahead on a grassy path between a cattle field and hedging.
At the lower field corner boundary, turn right to enter a gate into Woodland Trust area. Follow the obvious bridleway to descend through the wood, accompanied by the beck to your left. Shortly, the path veers left to a well-constructed footbridge.
Immediately beyond the bridge, don’t veer right into Castlebeck Wood, keep straight up the stony hillside. This may prove very muddy after rain, so keep to elevated sides. The route is easy having reached the top. Pass through a gate and turn right across a lovely meadow of buttercups and ladies’ smock in June. Rising views over the leafy canopy of Castlebeck Wood are to your right.
Approaching the crest of meadowland and edge of woodland with handsome oak trees, you see before you Park Hill. An isolated cottage nestles in blissful seclusion beyond the boundary of post and wire fencing.
Follow the bridleway sign up the field to leave the property behind you, and meet a gate. Enter, and step up the bank onto a good track. Turn left and step out along the broad track, admiring the magnificent scenery of meadows and woodland.
Rising to an open gateway, meet a cross-track and turn left away from Riverhead Farm. Your main track becomes a double track as you keep descending, with a metal rail to your left a possible ‘seat’ for a cuppa. Set back, midst right woodland is a pond.
Go through a farm gate and discover Morra Head to your left – a stone-built, red-roofed property. Keep straight on into the picturesque valley adorned with golden gorse and snowy white hawthorn blossom in June. You’ll observe part of the old army camp in the vicinity – Low North Camp.
A leafy lane veers left to cross Low North Bridge. Shortly bear left, opposite a farm gate seen to your right. An old public footpath sign indicates the continuation of your way between the beck and arable land.
Follow the track onto a grassy footpath by buttercups and docks etc. With beck to your left, and fields off right, pass a solitary ash tree to the right of your path, and a cornfield beyond. A beautiful yellow broom blooms close by near a metal gate.
Nearing the hilltop, take a waymarked stile and path to a gate opening onto a footbridge over the beck. Turning right, the beck accompanies you on the right.
At the far end of the field, leave by a gate opening into a lane. Turning right, cross a stone bridge near Murk Head.
From the road junction, a large sign indicates Mill Inn to the left. This is your return route up Helwath Road, with a possible refreshment break at Mill Inn along the way back to Chapel Farm.
Failing this, (should the inn be closed), collect your private transport and take the other lane eastwards through Harwood Dale village. Passing Hardwick Farm, it’s about a mile to The Grainary. There, in splendid rural surroundings you can relax and enjoy refreshment.
Distance: 4 miles, allow 2 hours leisurely walking.
Refreshments: The Mill Inn, Helwath Road; The Grainary in Harwood Dale village.
Note: After heavy rain, be prepared for mud in places near the early part of your route.
The cuckoo has been heard in Castlebeck Wood area this year.