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Esk Valley Walk - Egton to Whitby

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Esk Valley Walk - Egton to Whitby
Author: Claire, Published: 11 Jun 2013 Walk Rating:star1 Esk Valley Walk - Egton to Whitby Walking Guide star1 Esk Valley Walk - Egton to Whitby Walking Guide star1 Esk Valley Walk - Egton to Whitby Walking Guide star1 Esk Valley Walk - Egton to Whitby Walking Guide star0 Esk Valley Walk - Egton to Whitby Walking Guide
North Yorkshire, N York Moors
Walk Type: River or lakeside
Esk Valley Walk - Egton to Whitby
Length: 10 miles,  Difficulty: boot Esk Valley Walk - Egton to Whitby Walking Guide boot Esk Valley Walk - Egton to Whitby Walking Guide boot Esk Valley Walk - Egton to Whitby Walking Guide
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A 10 mile linear walk following part of the Esk Valley Walk, a Regional Route long distance path in the North York Moors, the return leg being completed by train. The walk largely follows the route of the River Esk and the train line through the base of the river’s valley taking in the rolling hills, quiet lanes and agricultural fields that cover the region.

The route has several climbs and descents throughout and the paths (through woodland and fields) can get very muddy after periods of rain. There are 7 stiles (some of which are tall with enclosed fence surrounds so dogs may need a lift over) and lots of gates and flights of steps along the way. Near the start of the walk you will cross the River Esk via a series of stepping stones (although you can omit this part if you wish). You will be sharing the paths and fields with a whole array of animals – we came across sheep, cattle, goats, geese, hens, turkeys and donkeys – so take particular care with dogs. You will also need to cross the rail line several times at un-signalled crossings so keep children and dogs under close control at these points. There are public toilets in Egton near the start of the walk. Approximate time 5 hours.

The walk starts from Egton rail station. If you are coming by car it is easiest to park in Whitby and take the train to Egton to begin the walk. Rail services on this line (Whitby to Middlesbrough) are very limited so check timetables to plan your day. There is a rail car park immediately in front of Whitby Station, or a long-stay pay and display car park just 300 yards further along Langbourne Road. Approximate post code YO21 1YN.

Walk Sections

Start to St Hedda's Church
Start to St Hedda's Church

Start point: 54.4376 lat, -0.7615 long
End point: 54.4363 lat, -0.761 long

Begin by catching the train from Whitby to Egton (a 20 minute journey). From the Egton platform, come out through the exit gate and go down the slope. Keep ahead to the road T-junction with the Post Gate pub to the left. Turn right to go under the rail bridge and you will pass St Hedda’s Church on the right. From this point you have two choices – to stepping stone or not to stepping stone. Your decision will depend on your sense of adventure and the level of the river water!

For the short and safe option look out on the left, just after the church, for a waymarked turning through a gateway onto a private drive (now jump to the next section of directions).

For the extra loop (highly recommended if conditions are suitable) turn right into Broom House Lane. Continue past the public toilets on the left and after passing Pear Trees House on the right, turn left down the small lane labled ‘to stepping stones’. Swing right down the few steps to reach a section of the River Esk which has multiple weirs. Go ahead over the stepping stones with care (do not attempt this if the river is too high) to reach an island and keep ahead over the second flight of stones. Climb the steps and then keep left and left again signed to Egton.

Follow the lane with Giant Redwood trees in the gardens each side. Cross the river via the road bridge and follow the lane as it bends left. You’ll see St Hedda’s church ahead on the left, and look for the right hand turn through a gateway into a private road.

St Hedda's Church to Grosmont T-junction
St Hedda's Church to Grosmont T-junction

Start point: 54.4363 lat, -0.761 long
End point: 54.4386 lat, -0.7315 long

Turn onto the private drive signed to Grosmont with a fish symbol. This leaping salmon symbol marks the Esk Valley route that you will be following all the way back to Whitby. The River Esk is Yorkshire’s only salmon river and is popular with fisherman for catching both salmon and trout.

Keep ahead on the private access road – the old Egton Estate toll road. On the right you’ll pass a field probably holding both sheep and donkeys. The donkeys are from the donkey sanctuary and there is a donation box on the gate should you wish to support the cause.

Further along on the right you’ll pass Toll Cottage, the old toll house for this former toll road. On the side of the cottage you’ll see the 1948 price list for various vehicles from horse-drawn carts to hearses. Soon afterwards the track passes under the rail line and further along you will see the River Esk once again – immediately on your right. At the end of the toll road you’ll come to a T-junction near Grosmont.

Grosmont T-junction to Grosmont Farm Yard
Grosmont T-junction to Grosmont Farm Yard

Start point: 54.4386 lat, -0.7315 long
End point: 54.4448 lat, -0.719 long

Cross over and turn left along the pavement then take the first right. Continue on the main lane passing the Priory Park housing development on the right. As the main lane swings sharp left, keep ahead to join a stone bridleway.

Keep ahead on the bridleway until you reach Grosmont Farm Yard – home to a whole array of farm animals including sheep, cattle, a free range herd of goats, geese, hens and turkeys. When we passed through there were adorable young goat kids, goslings and tiny turkey chicks all sharing our path.

Grosmont Farm Yard to Newbiggin Hall
Grosmont Farm Yard to Newbiggin Hall

Start point: 54.4448 lat, -0.719 long
End point: 54.4502 lat, -0.7054 long

Keep straight ahead through the centre of the farm yard and follow the stone bridleway out the other side. Climb steadily and cross a stream. Ignore the left waymark, seemingly into the undergrowth, just continue for a few more yards to turn left through the gate into woodland.

Here you will join a stone trod – a stone paved path – as it climbs through a pretty section of woodland. You will be following sections of this on and off at least as far as Sleights. These stone trods, or pannier ways, are very common on the North York Moors and date from the late 16th century. They were laid to help the movement of packhorses laden with goods destined for the markets. Monks also laid these stones on exposed routes across moorland between abbeys and villages to ease the journey of travellers. You will notice the centres of the stones dip slightly through centuries of wear.

At the three way junction, turn right continuing uphill. At the top go through the gate into the field and keep ahead following the right hand fence. At the end of the field swing left along the bottom fence for just a few yards, then turn right through the gate. Follow the enclosed stone trod path and keep ahead to merge with a quiet country lane. You will pass some cottages on the right and then come to Newbiggin Hall also on the right. Newbiggin Hall dates back to the 17th century which was rebuilt after a fire. The adjacent holiday cottages are converted from the original corn mill, stables and milking parlour.

Newbiggin Hall to Footbridge
Newbiggin Hall to Footbridge

Start point: 54.4502 lat, -0.7054 long
End point: 54.4541 lat, -0.6848 long

Pass through the gate just beyond the hall and keep ahead close to the right-hand fence. Pass through two more gates to enter a section of woodland. Follow the path through the wood and out of the gate at the far side. Keep straight ahead following the fence on the right. Ignore the first gate on the right, instead follow the field edge as it swings left to reach the second gate.

Pass through this gate and keep ahead now once again on the obvious stone trod with the hedge on the left. Pass through two more gates to enter a small area of scrub. Follow the path ahead and descending some broad steps to emerge to a quiet road.

Turn right and then immediately left to continue on the bridleway. Just a few yards in, ignore the waymark pointing ahead, and instead turn left following the yellow arrow to reach a footbridge over the stream.

Footbridge to Sleights Station
Footbridge to Sleights Station

Start point: 54.4541 lat, -0.6848 long
End point: 54.4611 lat, -0.6622 long

Cross the bridge and go through the gate ahead. Follow the path straight across the centre of the field. Keep left at the fork climbing steadily to the next gate ahead. Pass through this and keep ahead with the hedge directly on the left. Continue through two more gates to reach the road with a three way signpost.

Turn right downhill. As the road climbs to reach cottages and farm buildings ahead, turn right over the stile (or gate alongside) and follow the stone trod with the cottages to the left. Continue on the stone trod through three more gates to reach another road.

Turn right on the road downhill and on the left you’ll pass ‘Woodlands’. Follow the main road as it swings left then right and descends steadily. At the bottom you’ll come to a crossroads. Cross over the main road with care to take the road opposite signed to Ruswarp.

Just before you reach the properties ahead, go up the steps and right to cross the footbridge over the river. Just beyond you’ll reach an un-signalled rail crossing – cross this with care to reach the platform of Sleights Station.

Sleights Station to Hagg Farm
Sleights Station to Hagg Farm

Start point: 54.4611 lat, -0.6622 long
End point: 54.4612 lat, -0.6423 long

Leave the station via the gate opposite and go ahead into Lowdale Lane. Ignore the left turn into Echo Lane and follow the lane as it swings steadily left. As you reach the road junction ahead, turn left to cross the footbridge into the cricket field.

Keep straight ahead passing an old stone barn to the right. Before the pavilion, turn right through a gate. Keep left behind the pavilion then fork immediately right on the stone track uphill. Just over the brow of the hill as you reach the power lines, turn right onto the path signed to Ruswarp. Keep ahead as the stone track becomes a green lane leaving the properties behind you.

Go through the gate and keep ahead close to the right hand fence. As you reach the field corner turn left along the top boundary. Keep ahead through the hedge gap into the next field and before the next hedge line ahead, turn right and immediately left over a stile (with dog gate).

Now with the hedge on the left, follow the field edge as it swings right and uphill to reach the stile at the top corner. Cross this and keep ahead, heading directly for Whitby Abbey now visible on the horizon (a welcome sight as your first glimpse of your final destination for this walk!).

Towards the end of this field, bear slightly right to reach the next stile in the dip. Cross this and another in quick succession and cross the centre of the next field on the path at about 11 o’clock. At the far side you’ll reach two stiles and two gates set together. Take the stile to the left (signed Ruswarp) and the buildings of Hagg Farm will be on the right.

Hagg Farm to Ruswarp Station
Hagg Farm to Ruswarp Station

Start point: 54.4612 lat, -0.6423 long
End point: 54.4699 lat, -0.6284 long

Keep ahead passing the buildings and cow sheds to the right, on the slope heading steadily downhill. Keep right at the fork to cross the next stile alongside a gate. Keep close to the hedge on the right, following it as it swings right and downhill. At the bottom pass through the gate and then turn left to reach the rail crossing.

Cross the rail line via the pair of gates taking extreme care. Turn immediately right to join the enclosed stone footpath with the railway to your right. The Esk River will soon be visible again on the left. The name Esk stems from Isca – a Celtic word meaning water or stream. It’s source is a series of trickling becks known as Esklets high up on the moors at the head of Westerdale.

As you reach the white building ahead, cross right back over the railway with care. Follow the lane uphill to reach a T-junction with the road. Cross over and turn left here to join the pavement. As you approach the level crossing, cross to the left-hand pavement and swing left over the river bridge. Go over the level crossing where you’ll find Ruswarp Station on the right.

Ruswarp Station to Old Railway Cutting
Ruswarp Station to Old Railway Cutting

Start point: 54.4699 lat, -0.6284 long
End point: 54.4767 lat, -0.621 long

Keep ahead on the main road passing the Village Hall to the right and the Church of St Bartholomew on the left. Just after house number 8 on the right, turn right on the signed footpath to Whitby. Follow the enclosed path with houses to the right and pass through a kissing gate to join a paved path alongside the tall wall on the right.

Go through another kissing gate and some distance later keep ahead up the flight of stone steps. At the top of the next slope, fork right, continue up a few steps and keep ahead on the path with woodland sloping down to the right. Descend the long flight of wooden-framed steps to reach the base of the old railway cutting.

Old Railway Cutting to End
Old Railway Cutting to End

Start point: 54.4767 lat, -0.621 long
End point: 54.485 lat, -0.6141 long

Continue out of the cutting via the steps up on the opposite side. Pass through the kissing gate and at the junction cross straight over the Cinder Track into the field ahead signed for Whitby. Keep ahead following the left-hand fence.

Continue past all the school buildings on the left and in the far corner turn left with houses to the right. Keep ahead past the school entrance and as you approach the road junction ahead bear right to join the raised pavement.

Follow this as it swings right alongside the road and stay on the dirt track above the pavement. At the fork keep right, down the steps, to pass under the main road and up steps on the opposite side. Turn right along the tarmac path. Take a moment to enjoy the views of Whitby ahead. At the bottom of the slope turn right and, after four houses, fork right onto the stone track alongside the railway.

Cross the railway via the gates with care and keep ahead on the tarmac lane with the car park to the left. Fork right onto the tarmac path running directly alongside the harbour on the right.

This harbour is where the River Esk flows out into the North Sea to end its journey. Shipbuilding has always played an important role in Whitby. In the 18th century the Endeavour and the Resolution – two of Captain Cook’s ships – were built here. You’ll see the modern day equivalents being built here today.

Follow this path swinging round left and you’ll emerge to a T-junction with the road and the Co-op opposite. Turn right for just a short distance to reach Whitby Station on the left, where this walk ends.

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Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2013 by iFootpath and 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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