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Kilburn Woods and White Horse

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Kilburn Woods and White Horse
Author: clairesharpuk, Published: 05 Jun 2013 Walk rating : Rating:star1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar0 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK
North Yorkshire, N York Moors
Walk Type: Hills, valleys and dales
Kilburn Woods and White Horse
Length: 6 miles,  Difficulty: boot iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK boot iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK boot iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK boot iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK
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A 6 mile circular and fairly strenuous walk taking in the steep valley slopes of Kilburn Woods and the Kilburn White Horse chalk figure set into the hillside. The route starts from the Sutton Bank North York Moors visitor centre and heads out on the level path following the edge of Roulston Scar, giving unrivalled views across the Vales of York and Mowbray. The walk then descends down the steep paths into the beautiful Kilburn Woods before climbing back up the escarpment alongside the chalk horse. The woodland is very picturesque, particularly in spring when the area is alive with the sound of cuckoos and the woodland floor is smothered with a sea of bluebells.

The walk is quite strenuous with several climbs and descents throughout, some of which are fairly steep and can be quite muddy or slippery, particularly after wet weather. The beginning and end of the walk follows the path along the edge of the scar and is very exposed. There are no stiles or gates on route, but there are several flights of steps. There are toilet facilities at the car park at the start. Allow 3 to 3.5 hours.

The walk starts from the Sutton Bank North York Moors visitor centre. The centre is marked with brown signs and is accessed from the A170, just a couple of miles east of the village of Sutton-under-Whitestonecliffe. There is a large pay and display car park on the site. Approximate post code YO7 2EH.

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Walk Sections

Start to Gliding Fork
Start to Gliding Fork

Start point: 54.2407 lat, -1.2088 long
End point: 54.2302 lat, -1.2109 long

There are car parks on two sides of the visitor centre so you need to get yourself to the correct side of the centre to begin the walk. You need to go to the ‘entrance only’ access road into the car park which sits behind the woodland and picnic tables at the back of the building.

From this point, stand with the entrance to the car park on the left and walk ahead onto the tarmac footpath to reach the crossing point of the A170. Cross the road with care and take the path opposite, enjoying the first glimpse of the fantastic views that this walk will deliver.

At the fork, keep left and follow the tarmac path along the edge of Roulston Scar, part of the Cleveland Way. Ignore the turn off to the left to Hambleton. Enjoy the magnificent views into the valley on the right which stretch right across the Vales of York and Mowbray. The artist JMW Turner visited this spot and sketched these views – the 180 degree panorama being one of the most celebrated views in Yorkshire.

If you look back at about 5 o’clock you’ll be able to see Gormire Lake – a natural lake formed by a glacier and now fed by local springs. The lake is surrounded by the dense trees of Garbutt Wood. Looking forward at about 2 o’clock you’ll see the multi-coloured patchwork of Kilburn Woods spreading far below, where you will be walking later.

You will probably see gliders in action on clear days and over to the left is the grass runway of the local gliding club. Soon the control tower will come into view ahead. Just before you draw level with the control tower you will reach a fork in the path.

Gliding Fork to Footbridge
Gliding Fork to Footbridge

Start point: 54.2302 lat, -1.2109 long
End point: 54.227 lat, -1.2213 long

Fork right here onto the narrow stone footpath (with a wooden handrail) heading diagonally down the edge of the escarpment. At the bottom of the slope continue over another small rise and you’ll reach a staggered T-junction with a red marker post in front of you.

Turn right here and after just a few yards turn left onto the signposted stone bridleway continuing downhill. After some distance on this bridleway you will come to a small wooden footbridge across a stream.

Footbridge to Brow of Hill
Footbridge to Brow of Hill

Start point: 54.227 lat, -1.2213 long
End point: 54.2295 lat, -1.2244 long

Continue on the bridleway as it climbs and then descends, winding through the forest. You’ll come to a T-junction with the main forest road, turn right to follow this. At the fork keep left and follow the track uphill – continue just to the brow of the hill, at the point where the track is about to start descending again.

Brow of Hill to Grass Hillside Path
Brow of Hill to Grass Hillside Path

Start point: 54.2295 lat, -1.2244 long
End point: 54.2271 lat, -1.2329 long

Turn left here onto the path swinging up onto the hill, marked with black/white and green/white arrows. A little further up the hill you will come to a fork, keep right again marked with the green arrow. Follow the track continuing to climb and at the next junction keep right, now heading downhill.

Continue as the track performs a hairpin bend, right then left. Soon afterwards you’ll meet a junction with a green arrow on a wooden post.

Grass Hillside Path to T-junction
Grass Hillside Path to T-junction

Start point: 54.2271 lat, -1.2329 long
End point: 54.2204 lat, -1.2344 long

Turn left here, following the green arrow, up the grassy hillside path. Follow the grass path as it hugs the edge of the hillside, enjoying the glimpses of valley views across to the right. In spring this section of the woodland is a sea of bluebells and wild garlic. At the far end you’ll come to a T-junction.

T-junction to Re-entering Woodland
T-junction to Re-entering Woodland

Start point: 54.2204 lat, -1.2344 long
End point: 54.2237 lat, -1.228 long

Turn left (following the green arrow) and follow the path as it swings first left and then right heading through a grass clearing between patches of larch trees. Follow the path winding and climbing through the grass clearings.

At the fork keep right (following the green arrow) and soon afterwards you will re-enter the dense woodland.

Re-entering Woodland to White Horse Car Park
Re-entering Woodland to White Horse Car Park

Start point: 54.2237 lat, -1.228 long
End point: 54.224 lat, -1.2132 long

At the first fork keep right and then follow the path as it swings left. Follow the green arrows which will guide you on the winding path through this section of the forest. Soon you’ll leave the coniferous trees behind to enter a pretty section of young oak trees with small ferns below. Soon afterwards you’ll emerge to the main forest road, directly opposite the bridleway you came down earlier.

Turn right down the forest road and, after just 30 yards, turn left up a forest track. The track bends sharp right and continues uphill with views opening up again to the right. At the major fork, keep left following the black/white arrow. Follow this path as it bends left and then right.

At the T-junction with a track turn right and follow the track out past the vehicle barrier to reach the car park which sits under the Kilburn White Horse.

White Horse Car Park to End
White Horse Car Park to End

Start point: 54.224 lat, -1.2132 long
End point: 54.2395 lat, -1.2113 long

Once in the car park, turn left onto the path with steep steps going up, marked as the White Horse Bank walk. Follow the path steeply uphill and continue up the long flight of steps.

At the top turn left onto the chalk path, with the white horse figure set into the slope on your left. The Kilburn White Horse was created in 1857 and was restored in 1925. The figure is ‘groomed’ every three years as maintenance. Take a moment to really appreciate the valley views from this point – a just reward for your efforts during the climb!

Continue to follow the scar edge path with the gliding field now to your right and with views in every direction. Follow the path swinging steadily right and you will soon reach the point alongside the control tower where you left this path earlier in this walk. Simply follow the main path all the way back to reach the road where you need to cross back to reach the car park where the walk began.

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Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2013 by the author clairesharpuk and may not be reproduced without permission.


The information in this guide has been provided in good faith and is intended only as a guide, not a statement of fact. You are advised to check the accuracy of the information provided and should not use this guide for navigational directions nor should you rely on the accuracy of the weather forecast. You are advised to take appropriate clothing, footwear, equipment and navigational materials with you according to the current and possible weather and nature of the terrain. Always follow the country code and follow any additional warnings or instructions that may be available. Some walks may be very strenuous and you are advised to seek medical advice if you have any doubts as to your capability to complete the walk.

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