Enchanting Whisperdales

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by Maureen Robinson

Where more enchanting than Whisperdales? So hushed, you must whisper for fear of breaking the silence. Just the rippling of water and bird song to accompany your walk, and a profusion of wild flowers to gladden the heart of botanists!

While humble Hackness hides in its valley, you may enjoy panoramic views by taking the Reasty road, north of Silpho.

Access: From Scarborough, take the A171 Scalby road, turning off left at the Rosette Inn at Newby. Follow signs towards Hackness, but only as far as the little village of Suffield, where you should turn right from Hillcrest Cottage to park close by. I’m sure that having read details regarding homemade jam, preserves, chutneys and a remarkable selection of fruit cordials and other delicious drinks, you’ll wish to purchase a little treat for a friend – or even yourself!

Next, continue along this road past Northfield Farm and make a right-angled turn left on Swang Road to a road junction. Here, keep left (ie straight forward) on a long, direct road passing a turning off left to Silpho, and likewise at crossroads just beyond Turkey Carpet. Less than a mile ahead you’ll discover an open car park, seat and amazing view-point northwards. This is Reasty Bank car park. From here the view reveals the upper reaches of the Derwent Valley with glimpses of the vast expanse of Harwood Dale forest and moorland.

Start: From the car park, cross the Reasty road with care, to a sign board announcing: ‘Forestry Commission – North Riding Forest Park’.

Follow the broad, rough track to a junction and keep left down hill with forests of larch and pine either side. You’ll soon spot an overgrown tumulus off left. Leaving the forest, the beauty of breathtaking Whisperdales lay before you. Bathed in sunshine, forest clad slopes sweep into a fertile green valley beneath summer blue skies!. Whisperdales farmhouse nestles in pastoral tranquillity. Beyond the farm, enter a blue arrowed metal gate to your left. Follow the right bank of the overgrown stream, and listen to bird-song.

Seek a muddy cart track where you cross to the left bank of Whisperdales Beck, with oak trees on your right. Continue through meadow-land, walking through ‘waves’ of shimmering green grasses. The valley floor to your left is clothed with wild flowers. Another little track over the stream (between a tree and hedging), and you should seek immediately a narrow, insignificant footpath between grasses and wild flowers. Buttercups, yellow rattle and clover etc stretch to the left horizon.

Meeting a blue-arrowed gate, pass through and immediately to your right at Carr Lands, you may view a site where waters meet. Then continue on the way marked bridleway across a meadow. What a paradise for botanists, with carpets of flowers bedecking the way and even the tassel hyacinth on the left bank.

Passing between a gate-post and tree trunk, continue across Lowdales Meadow. Enter a wooden farm gate near spring water. Entering a farm gate, please close it and pass stone walling around red roofed cottages, and descend to a ford, near farms. Cross the shallow fords by foot-bridges and bear right with the stream to your right. Walk uphill along a sunken lane with flower-bedecked hedgerows. Your sandy track warns: “Try your brakes!” Continue straight forward, by culverts channelling water from side to side. Post and wire fencing soon features to the right. Keep spotting wild flowers, but leave them for all to enjoy.

Approaching Highdales Farm, beyond a waymarked gate, stop! “Beware – a savage dog”, called Martin. We were about to leave the track, mount a few steps and a stile signed ‘public footpath’, off to the right. The white ‘beast’ fled towards us. In the nick of time we ‘flew’ over the stile! The friendly white terrier joined us, delighted to accompany us home, so do beware! It was her day out – racing, rolling in the forestry and taking mud baths en route. If found, please return her to the farm. More details later.

Continue on a narrow, grassy path between gorse, which leads up to a stile. Take the stile over the fence into a pine plantation. Turn left along the lower edge of the plantation. View the red-roofed cottages of Highdales Farm below. From this point turn right up a very steep ascent. Climb up and through the plantation of matured trees. The track is steep and muddy too after rain. At the top of the incline, reach a level cross track but continue straight up on a yellow-arrowed footpath. Your path is through flora and bracken. A level field lies before you. Cross it, keeping near the right field boundary. A larch plantation is reached. Veer right on a grassy track with extensive grassland to your right.

Seek a stile to the left between gorse and larch. Take the stile and proceed on a grassy public footpath through a cool, shady wood. Typical moorland plants of silver birch and oak trees, heather and bilberry surrounded you. Meeting a metal farm gate and post, continue and enjoy the open, level, sandy track ahead. Your track swings through tall conifers and deciduous trees. Pass stacks of timber and seek heath-spotted orchids in season alongside the track. You may even spot a deer as we did. Veer right with the track through more woodland.

Pass by the side of a barred gate and meet the main track.

Turn left on the pot-holed track of your outward route. At a cross track go slightly left and take the footpath between vegetation to cross the road and return to Reasty Bank car park.

Distance: 4.5 miles or so allow 2-3 hours.

Refreshments: No convenience stops, so do take a picnic.

Footnote: The little dog accompanied us to the end, but refused to be caught or cornered. However, determined to enjoy her day out, she jumped happily onto the back seat to join me. At last I could read her disc and phone number!

Michael used his mobile phone to contact the owner and we were soon happily united at the car park. A happy ending for all concerned, which completed a perfect day.

With acknowledgements to Michael – the man behind the driving wheel.

NB: Map reference details on the map

Walkers are urged to follow written instructions with care, small details cannot be noted on the map.