NZ 6510/01 Commondale

This is a very fine high level walk on the moors above Commondale, at the upper end of Esk Dale, which stays above 900 feet for well over half of its distance, and is dominated by the open heather moors. It also provides great views into Esk Dale and down the valley towards Whitby and the coast.

This walk does include one section where the path is no longer clearly visible on the ground, but the correct route is marked out by a line of boundary stones. Despite this a compass might be useful.

Ascent: 620ft
Length: 5.5 miles
Map: Explorer 026 North York Moors West
Last Walked: July 2008

We start at the small parking place on the side of the road just to the west of Commondale.

1 (NZ 656 104)
We begin by heading down the hill into the village of Commondale. At the base of the hill continue along the main road as it climbs back out of the village to the east, passing the church and an outdoors activity centre.
2 (NZ 666 107)
Just past the church and the activity centre the road kinks away to the right. Follow the footpath that cuts oft this corner. This path soon brings us back to the road. At this point a fence runs parallel to the road, a short distance across the heather. Look for a gate that passes through this fence, and follow the footpath that leads to this gate. Once through the gate follow a reasonably clear but narrow footpath which runs across the side of the hill, running generally level with the valley of Ravengill Beck to the left.
3 (NZ 667 109)

The OS map shows this path running towards a small patch of woodland, but it soon becomes clear that the trees no longer exist. Follow the path until it reaches a small stream running in a small dip, with piles of earth on the far side. Turn right and follow this stream up the hillside until it brings us to a stone wall. This wall used to surround the trees, but now only contains their stumps.

The official footpath passes diagonally through the old forest, but this area gets quite boggy, so instead turn left and follow the wall as it runs along the hillside. Follow it to the northern end of the old forest, then turn right and follow the wall east towards another fence. Our path leads through this gate, before reaching a track. Turn right onto this track and follow it north all the way to a minor road.

4 (NZ 670 116)
Turn left onto this road and follow it for around 200 feet. Leave the road on the first path that leaves to the left, running along the top of a moorland ridge topped with tumuli. This path is the Quakers's Causeway, which we will follow across the moors for the next mile.
5 (NZ 659 129)
After that mile we reach a junction in the path. Take the left-hand branch, and follow it as it runs across the open moors, before beginning to descend gently towards a stone wall at the edge of some fields on the northern slope of the moors. Follow this path as it curves around to the left, running parallel and to the left of this wall.
6 (NZ 645 133)
We follow this path to the western end of the stone wall. Just past the wall the path crosses over Tidkinhow Slack, a very minor stream. Here a line of boundary stones run south across the open moors to the left of the path, running south up to the skyline. At this northern end of the line no path is visible, so we have to make our own way across the heather, following the line of boundary stones, until eventually a path does emerge, running almost due south. Follow this path along the line of stones for about half a mile. At this point, just as we approach the skyline, a second path branches off to the right. Follow this path past the tumuli on the hilltop, and then down the far side of the moor towards the valley of Whiteley Beck.
7 (NZ 646 117)
This path eventually brings us to a regular track that runs down the valley. Turn left and follow this track as it runs along the hillside.
8 (NZ 648 115)

After just under a fifth of a mile, this track turns right and drops down the hillside towards a farm. At this point a footpath leaves to the left, following the line of some earthworks across the hillside. There are two possible routes back to our starting point from here. We turned right, and followed the track down towards the farm and step nine.

The alternative is to follow the footpath across the hillside. 750 feet after leaving the track, follow the path as it turns to the right and drops down into the valley bottom, then turn left and follow the path as it runs alongside Whiteley Beck, then cross the beck and follow the path back to the footpath.

9 (NZ 649 112)
Our route took us to the edge of the fields that surround the farm. Here the path turns to the left, and runs around the edge of the fields. At the eastern tip of the fields, the path turns right and runs downhill towards the beck, passing through a gate to reach the field next to the stream. In this field follow the path as it runs slightly to the left, heading for a footbridge across Whiteley Beck. Cross this bridge, then follow the path as it climbs back up the far side of the valley. After a fairly steep little climb this path brings us back to the original farm track. Turn left onto this track and follow it back to our starting point.