Living in Scarborough, we’re so fortunate in having a wealth of wonderful walks nearby. Few villages have a lovelier setting than Hackness, a village about six miles west north-west of Scarborough. The countryside has little dales, grand hills and breezy moors with fine views.
At Hackness the River Derwent heads south to Forge Valley and the vale of Pickering. To the north is a lofty ridge named Suffield Moor. Silpho Moor has miles of heather, and beyond is Harwood Dale.
From the little hamlet of Broxa, just two miles up the valley from Hackness, are magnificent views about 500ft above the sea. Hackness Hall has fine gardens and a lake, and nearby is the embattled church – its massive 13th century tower crowned with a sturdy spire. St Peter’s Church must be visited to appreciate its striking interior with choir stalls bearing carved misericords; a fine font cover or rich carving, and a Jacobean pulpit. A very rare possession is seen in the south aisle, but more later.
I suggest parking near the bridge at the foot of the Lowdales road, or near the church from where this walk starts. There is no public transport for this walk, I’m afraid.
Start from the church and viewing its interior, don’t miss the remains of a Saxon cross. These date from 720AD. The two fragments of an inscribed Anglican cross are believed to commemorate abbesses of the early days of the convent which was founded here by St Hilda of Whitby in her later years. One fragment is enriched with knotwork and floral scrolls, and the other with simple carving. They’re now united as one. A famous sculptor was born here named Matthew Noble. His work is found not only in three London statues, but all over the country. His grave is at Brompton.
Leaving the church, turn left by the village school, and passing a small car park to the right, go over the road bridge and past a sign indicating Low Dales and High Dales. Continue along the right verge footpath. Follow this path around the bend to discover a track to your right. Having now cleared overgrown vegetation, you can now see the exposed public footpath sign! Take this track as it slopes up the tree-clad hillside. Reaching a fork, go right, following the track onto the hillside.
Keep to the edge of Chapman Banks Wood on your left. When you see a gate in walling ahead, pass through and bear right, and on the other side continue with Hackness Head Wood now on your right. Keep to the field edges, crossing a few stiles, and at the start of a lane go left, heading to the right of Broxa Farm. Follow the track out to Broxa’s village street.
Turn right at the first telegraph pole you see to your right. A line of telegraph poles guide you along a narrow ‘lane’ banked on either side. Proceed to the final telegraph pole, and immediately beyond on your right is a metal footpath sign by a metal gate. This directs you across a field (of barley at present) to a wood. Cross a stile to follow a descending path through trees to a fence at the bottom. Go right, then find a stile to cross on your left to follow a path leading up to a track.
Now, having reached the northern tip of your walk, you can look forward to an easy, attractive return route. Turn right along the track to enjoy the lovely route down High Dales.
When you reach properties at Lowdales, turn right and follow the narrow lane, being cautious of any traffic.
Descending further, you’ll come to a ford. This long ford is usually passable on foot, though following heavy rain we’ve found it badly flooded. Have no fear, there’s a path and bridge on the left you should use. Continue down the lane, and nearing the end you’ll observe tennis courts attractively sited to the left. Meeting the road turn left, and cross the roadbridge to return to St Peter’s Church and your departure point.
Distance: Five miles.
Refreshment: The Everley, Hackness.
Please note: Public footpaths etc are no longer maintained as they used to be. Use the OS Map and be prepared for any changes, eg stiles, fences etc.
Map: Ordnance Survey Explorer. OL27 North York Moors Eastern Area. Scale: 2.5 inches to one mile.