NZ 8902/01 Sneaton High Moor
This is an unusual walk that in some ways is dominated by the conifers of Newton House Plantation, without ever actually entering that forest. Instead, we circumnavigate the forest, spending most of the walk on the open moors. The target of the walk is the ridge at the top of Sneaton High Moor, which offers excellent views west towards the high moors and east towards the coast.
Ascent: 880ft/ 270m
Length: 9 miles/ 14km
Map: Explorer 027 North York Moors East
The easiest way to reach the start of this walk is from the A 171 coastal road. Just south of the direct road into Fylingthorpe and Robin Hood's Bay, turn west onto the B 1416. Follow this road for just over one and a half miles, until it reaches a crossroads where the main road turns to the right. Take the sharp left turn, and follow this side road as it runs past a caravan park and down into the valley of the May Beck. At the very end of the road there is a public car park and picnic area.
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A farm track runs parallel to the car park, heading north into the woods. Follow this track as it runs through the woods towards Old May Beck farm (under restoration on my last visit). Follow the track as it runs past the farm and climbs up towards the edge of the trees. Here follow a path that continues north, with the forest to the right and fields off to the left.
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This path soon reaches the edge of a conifer plantation, where the path splits in two. Take the left hand branch, heading north west through the trees, at first in a straight line and then curving gently to the left.
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At the edge of the trees the path in the forest curves to the left and runs parallel to Foss Lane. It is possible to cut across onto the lane at several places, but the path does eventually emerge onto the lane at Foss Farm. Here three tracks meet at a T-junction. Take the track that runs west, passing to the left of the farm.
At this point it is well worth making a diversion to visit Falling Foss. Instead of turning left onto the track, turn right and follow it as it drops down into the valley of May Beck. Cross over the stream and then turn left to find the waterfall. Retrace your steps to return to the walk.
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Follow this track that runs west past Foss Farm until you reach a gate that leads into a field to the right (900 feet past the farm, leading into the second field after the farm). Pass through this gate and follow the track that leads out across this field. Follow this track as it runs north west across the fields. At the far end of the next field follow the track as it curves around to the right, before crossing a stream and then turning sharply to the right and heading towards Lees Head Farm.
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At the farm we join Lees Head Road, a track that climbs up onto the open moors. Just before we reach the farm buildings a footpath cuts across the field to the left. Follow this path as it cuts across the field, reaching Lees Head Road as it curves across the field. We are now at the bottom point of a triangle - the road makes up the eastern and northern part of the triangle, while the path makes up the western part - follow this path to the top left corner of the field.
At the top left corner of the field cross the fence and rejoin Lees Head Road at a sharp corner in the road - one route leads east back towards the farm, while our route heads north west, up onto the moors. Follow this track as it winds its way through the fields to the edge of the heather moors and beyond.
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We stay with Lees Head Road all the way to the western end of Newton House Plantation, the conifer forest to our left. At the western tip of the forest, turn left and follow a path that cuts across the upper reaches of the stream that runs along the northern border of the forest. Here there are two choices of route - right at the north western tip of the forest there is an electricity pylon - one route leads due south along the line of the pylons, while the official path heads a little further to the right, running slightly to the south-west. Both routes reach our next path after about a third of a mile.
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A third of a mile after passing the first of the pylons, both of our possible routes reach a very clear track that heads south east, running around the south-western edge of the forest. Turn left onto this track. We follow this track for the next three miles as it runs towards the southern tip of the forest. For the first mile we head roughly to the east, climbing up to the northern end of Whinstone Ridge. The track then turns to the right, and climbs up onto Sneaton High Moor. At one point the track divides in two, running on both sides of a fence across the top of the moors. I took the right hand path, which runs close to Ann's Cross, at the top of the moor, but either path is fine as they join again before our next turn.
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We stay on this track along the top of Foster Howes Rigg, down into a slight dip and back up onto Stony Leas, where we will find a trig point, Louven Howe, and a great viewpoint. Ignore the track that crosses our route just before the trig point. About 800 feet after we pass the trig point turn left onto a footpath signposted for Robin Hood's Bay. This is Robin Hood's Bay Road, once a major route to the village, but now a footpath. Follow this path as it runs down the valley between the plantation (still to the left) and Blea Hill on the right. Sadly the footpath marked on the OS map as climbing up onto this hill is no longer visible on the ground.
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Follow this path all the way to the north eastern tip of the forest, climbing gently for the last stage. At the north eastern tip, turn left onto another farm track. Follow this track until it begins to curve away to the right, and then follow a signposted footpath that leaves the track to the left, heading west back towards our starting point. Follow this path as it drops back into the valley we started, reaching the road that leads back to our car park.