SE8685/01: Kirkdale and Gillamoor

This walk takes you from the southern edge of the moors, along one of the steep sided valleys that cut through the Tabular hills and to the edge of the high moors, before returning via Gillamoor and the top of the tabular hills, with views south towards the Howardian Hills.

Ascent: 1222 feet/ 372 meters
Length: 11.5 miles/ 18.6 km
Map: OS Explorer Map OL 26
Last Walked: 1st April 2006

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Park in the lay by on the south side of the A170 just west of Kirkbymoorside. Head west along the road, crossing over when you get a chance.
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Take the first right turn, along a lane heading north.
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Continue until you reach a crossroads, where you will turn left. Remember this junction - you will be returning here towards the end of the walk!
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The road dips down into Kirkdale, and crosses Kirk Beck. Normally, we would cross over the river, and use paths on the west side of the beck, but I last did this walk (Spring 2006), a key footbridge over the beck was out of use, and so instead we turn right just before reaching the beck, and head up a path through the woods on the east side of the beck. The path here climbs up the side of the valley before gently descending back to the valley floor on a track.

Through the trees to your left, you will catch a glimpse of Kirkdale Church, one of a very small number of Anglo-Saxon churches still to survive. If you want to visit the church, cross over Kirk Beck, then take the first path right. Once you've finished at the church, retrace your steps.

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The track you are following soon turns right, and leads up Kirkdale Howl. Ignore this track, and another path that heads up the slope (see photo left). Follow the third path, running along the bottom of the valley, just inside the woods.

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The path emerges from the woods at a farm and weir. Keep on the right hand bank of the beck. Just past the farm, the path leaves the track through a gate on the left, and cuts across a field, parallel to the beck. Follow this path for the next half mile.
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Soon after passing the weir, the path closes up with the beck for a short patch, before another field opens up between the woods and the water. Keep to the track along the edge of the woods until a path heads off into the trees. Follow this path, which runs parallel to the edge of the woods, just inside the trees, for the next two thirds of a mile. Ignore any tracks or paths leading uphill into the woods.
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Here you have two choices of route. The right of way passes through a gate to the left of the path into a field, and then heads to the top right corner of the field, where a gate leads onto a farm track. However, there is a sign warning that a bull sometimes has access to this field. If the bull is in the field, or you don't want to take the chance, then keep to the path in the woods, which will rejoin the main track at the other side of the field.

This track climbs slowly along the side of the valley. To the left you can see Hodge Beck as it meanders across the valley floor. Beyond that, you will catch your first glimpse of the high moors on this walk.

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The track joins a tarmaced road just below Sleighthole Dale Lodge. To the right of the road is Dripping Well, a
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Follow the road past the Lodge, and through a farm (Aumery Park). Half a mile past the farm, our path leads the road to the right, following the line of a new fence across the fields. Keep to the left of this fence, and of the hedge reached at the next field.
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We now join another tarmaced road, heading through the woods towards Stonely Woods (to our left). Keep straight ahead on this road, following it as it turns to the right. Ahead of us is this walk's 'surprise view'. From our viewpoint we can see for miles along the escarpment that marks the northern edge of the Tabular Hills, before the line of the hills turns out of sight just beyond Cropton Bank, five miles to our east. This is probably the best viewpoint on the walk (Gillamoor's own 'surprise view' comes close, and we are about to head there).

Follow this first road until it joins another road at a 'T' jnuction. Turn right, heading uphill. This road climbs up the side of Boon Hill, and provides a series of viewpoints of lower Farndale to the left. At the top of the hill the road splits. Take the left hand branch straight ahead of you. Most of the rest of the walk is down hill.

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After about a third of a mile, a footpath heads left, straight across the field, near a small covered reservoir. The start of the footpath is clearly signposted, and should be clearly visible as it passes through the crop. In mid-March the path was in frequent use and so should not be swallowed up by the crop.

Please stick to the path, and try not to damage any of the surrounding crop. Walk in single file along this sort of path.

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An obvious track leads down Ramsgill Gully. Ignore it and continue right around the field edge. A glance down the slope to your left will make it clear that whatever path used to be down there isn't any more! Further round the field you will find a sign explaining this.
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The path continues along the edge of the escarpment, until it reaches the road from Farndale. In front of you, you will see Gillamoor Church. Head towards the church. Just before you reach the church, there is a gap in the trees to your left, and through that gap, the famous 'surprise view'.

After you've admired the view (there is a conveniently placed bench), follow the road past the church and through the village. Turn left just after the pub.

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This new road turns right just outside the village. Ignore this turn in favour of the track that continues straight ahead. Follow this track for the next mile.
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After that mile, the track splits, with one branch heading off to the left, and another turning sharply right. Follow this right hand turn and continue past High Park Farm. As you pass the farm buildings, the path crosses over into the next field to the left, but continues in the same direction (past another bench). From here there are impressive views across to the Howardian Hills and the Wolds. Follow the path along the northern edge of the field.
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At the corner, turn left, and follow the path downhill towards Kirkbymoorside.
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Continue south through two fields until you reach the edge of a small nature reserve. Here, one path continues along the edge of the fields, but our path follows a small valley into the nature reserve. This path soon joins a tarmaced road leading to a golf course. Turn left onto this road and continue down hill towards the town.
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The road through the nature reserve brings you past a council depot, and then meets the Gillamoor road, just north of Kirkbymoorside town centre (turn left here if you want to visit the town centre). Here the correct route deveates slightly from the path marked on the Ordnance Survey map. Cross over the road and look for a cycle path to your right (see picture, right). Follow the path for just about 100 feet, then take the first available turn left (at a bench). Keep straight ahead on this new path until you have passed a large building (to your right).

You will join a road running through some new houses. Turn right onto this road, which quickly turns to the left and heads west across the side of the hill, with good views away to the south. At the far end of the road, keep right into a corner (the Ordnance Survey map is now correct again). A footpath leads between two houses back into open fields.

Follow the path straight across the first three fields, then along the field edge for the next three. Enter a larger field with a wood to the right. Here, aim for the far left corne then follow the field edge west across two more fields.

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The path heads down into a steep but shallow valley. This is Robin Hood's Howl. To your right, the Howl is wooded, with a path that leads north along it for almost exactly a mile, but we are heading the other way, so at the bottom of the dip, turn left and follow the path along the dip back towards the road. Another path slightly further up the slope to your left is probably the remains of an field boundary, still marked on the OS map.

At the road, turn left. Keep straight ahead at the crossroads (first encounted right at the start of the walk). 900 yards past the crossroads you reach the A170. Cross over carefully, and turn left to return to the start point.

Like most walks in this part of the moors, the clay soil means that the paths here can be slippy after rain. Proper walking boots and decent poles are recommended.

Suggested Variants

Once the bridges are fixed, take the path along the west side of Kirkdale past the church;