Nature and solitude

A view of Harwood Dale from River Head Farm.
A view of Harwood Dale from River Head Farm.

Written by Maureen Robinson

This short, delightful walk is essentially for those with an observant eye for nature, and love solitude. Scar and Castlebeck Wood in Harwood Dale, are valuable areas of woodland owned by the Woodland Trust.

This interesting route is only about two and a half miles, and is easy to follow allowing time to appreciate nature’s finest gifts. It presents no problems other than muddy paths which are usually avoidable.

Access. From the A171 Scarborough to Whitby Road, access to the site is via Helwath Road – an off-turning near Helwath Bridge.

An alternative approach is from Harwood Dale, passing Bumble Bee Hole, and the Mill Inn, with its name prominently displayed on the roof!

Park on the right verge (ie above, and on the opposite side to Chapel Farm). You’ll see a sign ‘Bridleway to Lilla’. Take the bridleway (at the end of Chapel Farm’s stone-walling), and follow the path beside a few out-buildings. It’s getting a little overgrown, but you shortly pass through a farmgate and keep directly ahead along the end of a field.

At the field boundary, turn right to enter another farmgate into the Woodland Trust’s site. Your track descends between shady woodland, with the bubbling beck soon featuring to the left.

It may be a little muddy in the dip, but veer left to cross a wooden footbridge, and then when the bridleway becomes stony, your route is to the right into woodland, and not uphill! A well-defined narrow path is followed, and if in any doubt just keep to the west bank of the beck through Castlebeck Wood. You may sometimes climb through oak woodland to avoid any muddy patches, soon returning to a level course. Liverworts and mosses cushion the stones, and ‘bearded’ lickens festoon twigs and bark.

Recline on one of the several seats along the way, and admire the one in oak, bearing carvings of oak leaves, and dedicated to Jessica Cooper.

Shortly, leaving woodland and acid heathland habit, you enter a field. About 16 metres or so beyond, you’ll observe a good railed wooden footbridge. Cross this bridge to the east of Jugger Howe Beck, and bear right away from the beck and up the hillside.

Nearing the top, a rough stony track becomes fenced on the right. Bear right along the grassy track, still following post and wire perimeter. A dry stone wall is to your left.

At the gate and stile, your route continues along the edge of a field which may contain a few sheep. Please keep any dogs leashed. Gorse bushes are to your right as you follow the meadow and bear left to reach the Helwath Road. Go through the gate and turn right, walking along the broad grassed verge which presents interesting flowers in summertime.

Pass Castlebeck Farm, and bends in the road eventually lead to a crossing of the beck, before you return to Chapel Farm.

Distance. 2.5 miles approximately.

Refreshment. None en route, but Mill Inn when open, and also The Grainary, in Harwood Dale. A picnic is always welcome!

NB This popular walk is to whet your appetite for more great walks in this area. Binoculars are usually very useful.

Warning. We suggest dogs are best leashed throughout, as very interesting scents of deer, fox or badger etc may lead your canine companion astray. Our dog Tigga ‘vanished’ near the bridge, only to be recovered some three hours later!

Map Reference: Ordnance Survey OL 27, North York Moors Eastern Area, scale - 2 ½ inches to 1 mile.

Driving and Rambling On

Maureen Robinson’s new booklet priced £3.30 per copy is available from Crag and Moor, 38 Victoria Road. Or send an A5 stamped, addressed envelope, plus cheque for £3.30 payable to Mrs EM Robinson to 14 Malvern Crescent, Scarborough.