Chocolate box gem

All Saints Church, Thornton-le-Dale
All Saints Church, Thornton-le-Dale

Written by Maureen Robinson

Which is Yorkshire’s prettiest village? Many would say that Thornton-le-Dale is high on the list of top favourites.

Situated on the southern edge of the North York Moors about two miles east of Pickering on the A170 Scarborough to Pickering road, it retains its picturesque image – especially out of the holiday season.

Thornton-le-Dale’s beauty centres upon its beck, and this pretty walk of two-and-a-half miles is delightful for the less adventurous with an hour or so to spare.

Thornton Beck, having left the wooded hills begins its pirouette of the village. It touches everything with elfin grace, and once provided power for the mill.

Park in the vicinity of the Church of All Saints which stands on an elevated site on High Street. Its present structure dates from the 14th century. Leaving the church, walk down the High Street and take the first turning left along Dog Kennel Lane. This soon leads into Peasland Lane.

Look to your right at the Hall Hotel. It was once the home of the Hill family – local landowners. It may date back to Tudor times.

Take the first turning left along what is named Rectory Lane, but which leads into South Back Lane. Stroll up the hill until you reach a T-junction where you turn right. You’re now in a peaceful hedged lane. Take the first turning right into another rural lane, ignoring a turn-off right into Peasland Lane, to continue a little further until you reach a farm to the left. Opposite the farm is a ‘green’ unmade lane or track on the right. This section may be muddy after rain but soon leads you to a lane veering right. You pass by The Old Lodge - an attractive stone-built cottage near the southern end of Maltongate, ie south of Thornton-le-Dale’s Square. The site of the old railway station is close by but now converted.

The Scarborough to Pickering line (or Forge Valley line), dates back to May 1, 1882. The line closed on June 3, 1950.

For 12 consecutive years the station master, Tommy Tailor won the best kept station competition in the 1920s and 1930s!

Cross both streams ahead, and turn right up Maltongate towards the Square. Thornton Beck accompanies you along the eastern side of Maltongate. Take time to admire the bridges spanning the bubbling waters and providing access to the pretty cottages. You’ll observe Box Tree Farm to your left, where John Wesley once preached.

Proceed beyond interesting shops where you’ll wish to linger, to reach cross roads. To your left is the New Inn, and across the road, the Buck Inn which dates from the 17th century. Cross to the Buck Inn and turn right in front of it to stroll along Chestnut Avenue. Leaving the tree sheltered Square, you’ll notice the market cross and village stocks. These were used to punish folk for minor offences. They were last used in 1874.

Stage coaches once passed this way. There are still plenty of coaching inns and cafes for travellers.

Note the magnificent horse chestnut trees alongside Thornton Beck on Chestnut Avenue. The beck flows past the high walls which enclose the Hall’s grounds.

Lady Lumley’s Almshouses, viewed to your left, were founded in 1656. They were given by Elizabeth, Viscountess Lumley who owned much land. She also endowed the old Grammar School at the end of the row.

Continuing along the road you approach the bridge. Stand on the bridge and watch the crystal clear waters flowing past the thatched Beck Isle Cottage. You’ll view a scene which has appeared on calendars, postcards, and chocolate box photos over the years.

Cross the bridge, and observe the stream divides here. The Hall is to your right, and ahead features the church from where your walk commenced.

Inns and cafes abound, but don’t forget Thornton-le-Dale’s speciality, ie Balderson’s ice cream. No visit is quite complete without it!

Distance: 2.5 miles approximately.