Visit hidden-away villages

The New Inn at Cropton.
The New Inn at Cropton.

When many cross-country footpaths and bridleways are flooded, one has the option of taking country lanes, appreciated by motorists, cyclists and walkers alike.

Wrelton, Cawthorne and Cropton are three remote villages to be appreciated on this six-mile route. The starting point is Wrelton, on the A170 between Pickering and Helmsley. Wrelton is easily accessed from Pickering, via Middleton and Aislaby , turning off right as signed Wrelton, a quarter of a mile into the village. The Inn is off left as you take the main street by the Huntsman guest house near the public telephone, and fork right up Cawthorne Lane.

Wrelton was inhabited long before recorded history. After the Ice Age, it became a settlement on the edge of the lake of Pickering. Some of the old buildings have made good use of free stonework left by the Romans, as Wrelton stood on the route from Malton’s Derventio to Wade’s Causeway on Stape Moor.

In Georgian times, coaches trundled along to Whitby and Scarborough. There were several inns, as there had been a long tradition of ale and wine making here, although Wesley discouraged alcohol. Gradually inns and ale houses disappeared though, as you’ll see, some remain, eg the Buck Inn on Wrelton Cliff Road.

The first chapel built was the Wesleyan in 1814, and later the Primitive Methodist in 1840. Nowadays village life and traditions have almost vanished. There are new housing developments making Wrelton more of a commuter village and attractive area for retirement.

Start from the Main Street, continue the gentle climb up Cawthorne Lane banked by hedges and surrounded by agricultural land. You may observe a disused and overgrown quarry to the left. The narrow, single-track lane winds into East Cawthorne, overhung by trees and with a pond to the right. Blink – and you’ve missed it! You’re in High Cawthorne.

Reaching the road junction turn left away from the Cawthorne Roman Camps, unless of course you wish to deviate and explore this site, as previously featured in the Scarborough Evening News on Saturday April 21.

Your straight, direct route along High Lane is delightful. Tree-lined and flanked by wide, grassed verges, it makes for pleasant, level walking.

Passing a sign to Sutherland Only, Hen Platts Farm lies to the left and an abundance of fine holly trees in the area.

Beyond a little wood, enjoy the descent into Cropton.

Cropton is a quiet village on the limestone upland. Reaching the south-west end of the village, you’ll find a triangular green at the junction of roads to Wrelton, Rosedale and Newton-on-Rawcliffe. The green is dominated by a handsome horse chestnut tree. Halt here to admire the magnificent view towards the moors that lie to the west of Rosedale. This is a popular spot for photographers, so go prepared!

You’ll have noticed that the village has one unusually wide street that was once partly common grazing. The houses are mainly stone-built with red pantiles. Many were rebuilt from previous cruck houses and long houses from the 18th and 19th centuries. There are several farmhouses, but shops have given way to travelling vans delivering necessities.

Turning left as signed to Wrelton, two miles, and Pickering, four miles, just around the bend at the bottom of the village is the New Inn, which has been greatly extended. It brews its own beer, and Cropton beers are well known to real ale enthusiasts.

A tour of the brewery is available throughout the summer and is located in the two-acre grounds of the New Inn. Each beer has its own characteristics, and Cropton Beers have several unique brews to tempt your palate. There’s Monkmans Slaughter; 2 Pints; Backwoods; Uncle Sams; King Billy; Scoresby Stout and Honey Gold. We tried 2 Pints, said to be the New Inn’s first ever brew and still their most popular.

Leaving the inn, keep well to the right verge and revel in the views glimpsed through tall hedges as your descent continues.

Passing pheasantries, views open up to present superb vistas across the Vale of Pickering to the distant horizon. Another quarry features to the left, and all too soon a return is made into Wrelton’s Main Street, with perhaps time for further exploration.

Distance: Six miles of easy walking along quiet country lanes

Refreshment: The Buck Inn, Wrelton; the New Inn, Cropton