SE 5489/03 Easterside Hill

Easterside Hill dominated the entrance to Bilsdale, standing between the River Seph and the River Rye, and is a familiar landmark to anybody driving up the B 1257 between Helmsley and Stokesley

The top of Easterside Hill is now access land, but there is no footpath that reaches the summit and no real paths that lead off the northern edge of the hill, so this walk does involve walking across the heather, and a minor scramble as we climb 150 feet down the side of the hill.

The first part of this walk, alongside the River Rye, can be very very wet. If in doubt use the road route to reach point 4, but the ascent from river level gives a much better feel for the scale of the hill.

Ascent: 900ft/ 280m
Length: 4 miles/ 6km
Map: Explorer 026 North York Moors West

There is a limited amount of roadside parking in Hawnby. Take care not to block any gates or impede access.

1 (SE 542 898)
We start at the T-junction at the northern end of Hawnby. Head south, downhill, towards the River Rye.
2 (SE 542 894)
At the bottom of the slope we reach another cluster of buildings around a T-junction. On the eastern side of the T-junction a footpath is signposted, heading off across the fields to the left. Turn onto this footpath, and follow it as it crosses the next three fields. The path here is very obvious, and is clearly in regular use farm use. The end of the second field was particularly muddy on my last visit.
3 (SE 546 893)
At the end of the third field our path reaches a small stream running through some trees. Cross this stream on the good footbridge, and then turn left, heading north east across this field towards the line of another small stream. Cross this minor stream, and then turn right and follow the line of the stream as it climbs up the hill towards a band of woodland (with Ellers Wood to our right). Our path passes through the narrow band of trees and emerges into an open field. Here we are aiming for the opposite corner of the field, just to the left of the buildings of Easterside Farm.
4 (SE 552 896)
This path leads to a road. Cross this road and follow the footpath as it enters the field on the opposite side of the road. Here the path runs up the right hand side of the field, heading north towards the southern end of Easterside Hill, here known as Bilsdale West Moor.
5 (553 898)
At the northern end of this field, cross over the stile onto the open moor. Here the OS map is slightly misleading On the map it looks like our path heads almost straight up the side of the hill. For a short stretch this is indeed the case, as the path climbs up through a patch of gorse bushes, but above these bushes we reach a signposted path that curves around to the left and climbs around the western flank of the hill, with great views back towards Hawnby, and down Ryedale before curving to the right to reach the southern end of the summit plateau.
6 (554 901)
The footpath cuts west to east across the top of Bilsdale West Moor, and then drops down the eastern side of the hill. At this point we will leave the footpath, turn left and head north across the heather. Turn off at the highest point on the path, and head along the ridgeline, always aiming for the highest point on the skyline.
7 (553 908)

Somewhat to my surprise Easterside Hill has a summit cairn, even though no paths actually reach it! Our problem now is how to get off the summit. My preferred route involves a scramble down the eastern flank of the hill. Start by heading north from the cairn towards the northern edge of the summit cairn. Once there turn round and look back to the south. From here a small groove (probably an old quarry) is visible on the eastern (left) slope of the hill. Head back into this groove and then follow the maze of sheep tracks that will eventually lead you down to the base of the hill.

The OS map shows a footpath that curves around the northern edge of Pepper Hill, through High Banniscue and back to the road. We are not going to take this route. Instead, there is a path that stays high on the western slope of Easterside Hill, running just inside the area of open moorland that surrounds the hill.

At the base of the slope turn left and head towards the wall at the southern edge of the field that lies below the northern edge of the hill.

8 (553 910)

A very clear path follows this wall, curving all the way around the western slopes of Easterside Hill. Turn left and follow this path all the way around the hill, with the open moor to the left and fields to the right. This path then runs past the eastern flank of Banniscue Wood. before curving around to the left to rejoin our original path at step 5. This time turn right onto the path and re-cross the field back to the small lane.

Turn right onto this lane, and follow it as it winds its way down into the valley between Hawnby Hill and Easterside Hill and then climbs back up into Hawnby. Just at the edge of the village we reach a t-junction. Turn left and follow this road as it curves around the right and back to our starting point.