A day of contrasts. Immense views, soft sheep pasture, shady forest tracks, unforgiving, sun-baked moorland, a punishing final climb and cool village alleyways.
I am given a welcome lift up the steep hill to the car park below the White Horse who keeps watch over the pretty village of Kilburn to start my journey to Osmotherley.
I haul myself up the steep flights of steps to the eye of the horse and start to retrace my route from yesterday back towards Sutton Bank. The first part of my hike today follows the high scarp on the western edge of the North Yorkshire Moors: Low Town Brow, Ivy Scar, Roulston Scar, Knowlson’s Drop, Sutton Bank; the Yorkshire Gliding Club soaring silently above me for most of the morning.
The open ground turns to wooded slopes and plantation. Great Relief Pot, Fairies Parlour, Garbutt Wood, White Mare Crag, Hambleton Down, Hambleton Mosses, Hill Fort Windypit, Boltby Scar, Sneck Yate.
Then out onto one of the most beautiful scenes. Gentle, rolling sheep pasture, soft underfoot, heading to High Barn with its knoll of great trees, bright with new leaves: Upper and Lower Paradise. Paradise today but probably hard going in harsher weather.
Briefly into Boltby Woods: bluebells and wild garlic. Then, at Steeple Cross, suddenly out onto open moorland. Heather stretching away to my right, not yet in bloom and the ancient drove road before me, rutted, stony, sun-baked dry, almost white in the bright light and hard, hard walking. Shadeless, the track for ever snaking away into the distance, its end never seeming any closer for mile upon mile upon mile.
Lunch crouched in a spot of shade in the lee of the drystone wall at White Gill Head: oatcakes, cheese, apples, nuts and a lighter backpack. I am not the first to have taken refreshment near here: there are signs of recent camping and down the track is the site of an inn, Limekiln House now just a few humps on the ground and a little cross marking the spot.
A left turn onto Hambleton Street under Black Hambleton Moor with its grouse butts and ancient tumuli nestling low in the heather.
To Hambleton End and Square Corner, heather moorland changing to high pasture and, at last, steeply down off the moor and into Oak Dale over stone-slabbed steps. Osmotherley in sight and the chimes of its church bell floating on the air. The path twists and turns along Oakdale Beck, and then, past the rolling meadows of Whitehouse Farm, the route makes its final demand: steep, knee-aching steps up Middlestye Bank before finally leading through the twisting cobbled alleyways of Osmotherley and a beautiful, delicious ice-cream from the village shop.
I feast on fish & chips on the village green and stay at 32 South End in a very comfortable self-contained little apartment with thoughtfully provided supplies for walkers. A great view from the french windows, a friendly chicken on the sunny patio and breakfast in the conservatory with delicious honey from the resident bee-keeper that tastes of real flowers.
14 miles, (22.5 km) in 6 hours