Written by Maureen Robinson
When country walks are churned to mud, and winter winds impede your progress, take heart and brace yourself for brisk exercise along glorious, remote country lanes. You’ll feel warm and revitalised afterwards, and ready for refreshment at a local inn.
Take the A170 road to Thornton-le-Dale. At the far end, as you meet the traffic lights between the New Inn and the Buck Inn, turn right up Whitbygate by the Buck Inn. Passing a warning of ‘bends’, a long straight road leads to The Fox and Rabbit, from where this route begins.
Start. The Fox and Rabbit – a well-known landmark. Leaving the inn, walk briefly to the right on the A169 road, and immediately left along a bridleway which resembles a private drive. This lane is walled to the left, with fields off right. You’ll meet a white gate, where the bridleway enters a handgate, but ignore this and swing right with the lane between conifers leading to Farfields Farm.
The hedged lane with grass verges continues pleasantly up Westfield Lane. A gentle descent and road-bend leads to a cross-track. Turning left down a narrow track takes you to The Pantry, ie Lockton Tea Room and Gallery. From here you’ve the option of exploring Lockton, or progressing to Levisham first. We went straight forward to Levisham – about 1.75 miles beyond. Be warned – this section is very steep and winding, so take care on the bends.
Descend the steep, tree-lined lane to discover in the valley Levisham Mill beside the road. Climbing out of the valley, wind your way up to Levisham – a beautiful remote village perched on the edge of a moorland plateau, which I understand has many interesting tumuli and earthworks.
Take time to explore this picturesque village with delightful rustic farms and cottages set about spacious greens.
Mellow, stone-built properties are over-looked by the Horseshoe Inn, proudly sited at the head of the village with magnificent views. Nearby is the little church of St John the Baptist, which you may visit.
Retrace your steps, passing the Moorlands Country House hotel to the left, before descending Mill Bank Road to return.
This tremendous hill is one of the steepest in Yorkshire, dropping down to the charming narrow valley fed by the musical Levisham Beck. By the bridge admire the delightful water mill. You can see the mill wheel to the left.
Re-climb the lane ahead and reaching a cross-lane, turn left to explore the village of Lockton, set on a hill above a deep glen. Here you’ll discover old cottages and farms, and beyond a public telephone kiosk, a walled church. The quaint, grey church has a 15th century tower which you’ll notice is not much higher than the nave. Within the battlements it appeared to have a young tree growing from its gabled cap! Do take a look inside and use the lights. Please remember to switch them off when leaving.
The nave and chancel are medieval, with some later windows. Between them is a 14th century arch. There are old altar rails and a Jacobean pulpit with crude carving. The font, perhaps dating to Norman days, is shaped rather like an egg cup.
Leaving the church, continue beyond to pass the youth hostel (YHA). Meeting a cross-lane ahead bear right. This takes you to another cross-roads. Here, go left along Hostess Lane to meet the A169 Lockton Lane. By turning right along the roadside verge, you return to the Fox and Rabbit.
This walk is a sheer delight in spring and summer. Each season presents unique scenes to enjoy.
Distance of entire route: 6.5 miles approximately. Allow 3 hours or so.
Refreshment: The Fox and Rabbit Inn, Lockton Tea Room and Gallery, The Horseshoe Inn, Levisham. There are many inns, cafes and shops in Thornton-le-Dale.
Map reference: Ordnance Survey OL27 North York Moors Eastern Area Explorer Map. Scale 2½” to 1 mile.