Stroll With Stu: a scenic walk around Danby and Castleton, near Whitby

If you fancy a post-Christmas stroll, perhaps to fool yourself that a two-hour walk to the pub will offset that massive dinner, half-stone of cheese, case of wine and small mountain of chocolates, then I heartily recommend hopping on the train to Castleton.

Friday, 24th December 2021, 10:50 am

The Downe Arms – a proper community pub these days – is embracing the festive season with a series of merry events over the Christmas period, ending with a ‘Soak it up’ breakfast on New Year’s Day (checkout their website or Facebook page for details).

Whenever you call, you’ll get a warm welcome, a nice fire and a great view up Danbydale (if you brave the beer garden for five minutes).

Naturally, you’ll need that walk first, and I give you a choice of two – both about four miles – starting from the station and ending at the pub.

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View of Castleton.

The first has you turning left along the road out of the station.

Head uphill until the road strikes right across the moors and take a wide track straight on, downhill with trees on your left.

After half a mile (before reaching the first farm building), take a signed path left to drop down across the railway and the river, then steeply back up the other side.

Turn left at the wall at the top, then it’s quickly right through a gate to access a wide path that takes you left down to Scale Foot Farm Holiday Cottages.

A wintry view towards Commondale.

Very attractive they are too, enjoying nice views up Westerdale, through which the River Esk has babbled its way down from its peaty source.

Your path goes straight on through the cottages and into a field where, with the field boundary on your left, you should plod downhill to meet the youthful Esk.

The path struggles to make its mind up about where to cross the river, but finally makes the leap with the aid of a handy footbridge, then edges left and climbs up to meet the road on a diagonal trajectory, as if it were a motorway slip road.

Follow the Tarmac for a short distance before taking a path on your right obliquely uphill to reach the main village where you can top up on calories in the Downe Arms.

Haircut pending!

Option two from the station, takes you in the other direction.

Turn left again on the road, but quickly cross over and take a path up through a gully to reach a wider, flatter route.

Turn right and follow the path as it snakes through the woods, emerging on to open grassland below the moors.

Go straight on, eventually dropping on to the road heading towards Danby.

Pub sign at The Downe Arms, Castleton.

After a few hundred yards, look out for a stone stile and footpath sign on your right.

This route conveniently cuts off a little uphill climb, with the word “SLOW” painted in big letters on the road, which I’ve always taken as a personal insult.

It inconveniently bypasses the excellent Duke of Wellington pub mind, but hey, you’ve only being going for half an hour man.

Get a grip on yourself.

Emerge on the road in the village and turn right, over the railway and river bridges before climbing up through Ainthorpe.

Go past the fire station and stay on the road for half a mile until you reach the primary school at the end of the village then turn immediately left down a quiet lane, over a cattle grid.

Half a mile further on, opposite the Old Vicarage, take the signed path on your right which curls right behind a house, over further stiles to edge left again alongside a wall on your right, aiming for Howe Farm in the distance.

Cross the wall on a lofty ladder style, then crunch through the gravel of Howe Farm’s courtyard.

Its access road bends right, but you should follow a path straight on and upwards with a wall and trees on your left, skirting Danby Low Moor, and soon dropping on to Wandel’s lane.

Turn right and wend your way up to Castleton and the scrummy delights of the Downe Arms.

So, a choice of two little cobweb-removing strolls, cobbled together from the archives of A Stroll with Stu which will soon enter its 12th year of rambling, hobbling and delighting in the fabulous countryside that surrounds us, and which we must keep secret from those who live anywhere near that there London.

For Christmas, I’m getting one of those mysterious electrical devices which, according to the telly, instantly turned Eamonn Holmes from arthritic fat bloke into Usain Bolt.

I’ll let you know how it goes, but whatever happens when I plug it in, l hope this column will still be here for a while to come.

For now, may I wish all the readers of the Whitby Gazette, a fabulous Christmas and a happy and bug-free 2022.