by Maureen Robinson
Thornton-le-Dale lies on the southern edge of the North York Moors National Park. It’s a pretty and very popular village centred on its beck, which emerges from wooded hills to gracefully pirouette the area.
This enchanting walk is now enhanced by The Tea Cosy Tearoom with its warm welcome and humour! It even has a Forecasting Stone!
Access is by taking the A170 Scarborough to Pickering road, but only as far as Thornton-le-Dale’s Church of All Saints, just on the hilltop before entering the village itself. Then just below the church turn immediately left to park in Dog Kennel Lane, with due consideration.
Start. From Dog Kennel Lane turn briefly right towards the church and bear first left, to go immediately right along Church Lane between stone walling. Passing behind the church, continue past stone cottages and modern properties as you rise to the brow of the hill.
Meeting a road junction, turn left up the lane. Keep ascending Outgang Lane, ignoring a fork left to the civic amenity site. The hedged lane climbs to the hill top, where you’ll observe a fenced reservoir to your left. About 30m ahead, seek a public footpath sign and fork left. What beauty awaits you, as the rough, hedged track presents unrivalled views across Ellerburn valley. Descending, gaze down to Welham Park Fish Hatchery. Cow pastures are to your right, as you proceed through two field gates (the second slightly elevated) to meet a cross-track. Turn left as waymarked on a gate-post by a yellow arrow. This deeply-rutted farm track heads towards High Paper Mill Farm.
Enter a farmgate, and the obvious bridleway leads to the farm itself, accessed by another farmgate. Walk by the farm and its corrugated iron barns etc to leave by a further gate, beyond which cattle may be encountered on the hillside or bridleway. Yet another gate, and your route follows close beside Thornton Beck and through a peaceful valley fed by springs. Here grow a multitude of wild flowers in season – a paradise for botanists!
Beyond a metal handgate, the bridleway enters woodland named Ellers Wood, to head due north towards Low Dalby. This used to be the old road to Low Dalby.
It leads to an artificially-created lake with wildlife hide to your left. The hide overlooks the lake, fringed by trees and wild flowers and frequented by dragon flies and damsel flies etc. It’s only about 100m off track.
Return to the main track, and about 200m ahead, seek a post indicating your sharp turn-off left. Wander down to the beck, and cross a good footbridge, midst silver birch trees.
Ascend the woodland path, and using a narrow footpath, cut across to the edge of a conifer plantation. Here, go left to follow the wood’s perimeter. A long stretch leads to the end of the plantation, where a good stile enters a field of sheep. To your left lies Paper Mill Pond and High Paper Mill Farm.
Keep to the open field path as it heads towards the lower tree boundary. Leave the field by a stile onto a narrow, fenced footpath alongside Welham Park Fish Hatchery.
At the far end, leave by a handgate opening onto a metalled road leading to Ellerburn and St Hilda’s Church. With camping in the field opposite ‘Cosy Nook’, one now discovers The Tea Cosy Tearoom, just the spot for a cuppa or an ice cream. Don’t forget to check weather conditions at the Forecasting Stone.
Next – St Hilda’s Church, nestled in the valley close to the beck. Do take time to peep inside. The bats love it, in preference to bat boxes provided in the forest! How many Saxon crosses can you find built into the outer church walls?
Leaving the church, view Low Farm opposite. Paper was manufactured here from the 17th to 19th centuries. Around 1817 the Low Mill produced four tons of paper annually. Low Farm used to be a bleach mill until circa 1830.
Remain on this lane alongside woodland, with several seats inviting relaxation and pastoral views. Eventually dropping down to meet a road junction, turn sharp left to Thornton-le-Dale Bowling Club, and pass between the car park and the disused mill close beside the beck.
The old Burgess Flour Mill has produced flour in Thornton-le-Dale since the 13th century. Until the 1920s the mill derived some of its power from Thornton Beck.
The Burgess family were millers for over 300 years. Burgess Gold Medal plain and self-raising flour were milled here. Later, animal feeds were manufactured.
Keep to the roadside, where the beck now dances to your right, obliging neighbouring properties to provide their own little bridges of stone or wood.
Shortly, turn right over a footbridge to pass Midstream Cottage. Wander along the footpath accompanied by the clear water of the beck and weir. Admire the much photographed thatched cottage.
As the beck glides under the road, your railed path leads onto the bridge. Turning left, head back towards the church, turning first right beyond The Hall to return to Dog Kennel Lane.
Distance. 5.5 miles approximately.
Refreshment. The Tea Cosy Tearoom in Ellerburn, and plenty in Thornton-le-Dale.
NB There’s so much to see and do in Thornton-le-Dale, but you’ll love the nearby Rustic Relics - a new kind of antiques shop. It’s in The Stables, Chestnut Avenue. Also, visit the North Yorkshire Motor Museum with its classic and vintage vehicles on show.
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.