Glaisdale is one of a series of side-valleys that run into Esk Dale, and falls into two distinct areas. Most of the dale is a typical Moors valley, flat bottomed and steep sided, with farms scattered along two valley side roads. Towards the head of the dale a spur of higher ground juts out into the valley. Glaisdale Beck runs through a narrow wooded valley, while Glaisdale village itself sits above the Esk at the eastern tip of Glaisdale Moor. The railway station is down by the river, at the bottom of quite a steep climb.
The valley gained some of its depth towards the end of the last ice age, when glacial melt water formed a massive lake in Esk Dale. This water drained out via Glaisdale and Egton, before turning south to get past the frozen sea.
In the middle ages the valley contained a number of bloomeries, early iron furnaces. In 1223 Peter de Brus gave some of the iron ore in the valley to Guisborough Priory, and they had two forges in the valley. The iron industry survived for some time, and there were three blast furnaces at Glaisdale village in the 19th century.
Earlier remains can also be found. At the head of the valley are a series of inscriptions carved around 1700. A romantic story surrounds Begger's Bridge, across the Esk. The young Tom Ferris was courting a lady from the other side of the river. When he decided to try and improve his fortunes by going to sea, the river was in spate and he was unable to say farewell to his beloved. He went away, made his fortune and became Lord Mayor of Hull. Eventually he returned to Glaisdale, married his sweetheart and in 1619 built the Begger's Bridge to make sure that no other couples would be divided by the river.
Glaisdale is well served by minor roads. Roads cut across the mouth of the valley, run along both of the surrounding ridges and one runs along the entire length of the valley from the village to a steep climb out, while another road circles the head of the valley.
Walk NZ7805/01 : The Glaisdale Round : This walk visits the high ground all around the valley.