A site of miracles, paved ways up and over switchback climbs, more moors and a night at the Wainstones.
I pass Osmotherley’s market cross and its 5-legged stone trading table, heading out of the village up North End.
My first destination is a short detour to The Lady Chapel , an ancient site of pilgrimage, and I walk up it’s shady drive past the Stations of the Cross which remind me so much of similar Catholic sites at home in Ireland. I have no religion but these sites do hold special qualities. It wasn’t always so safe to visit here: from the chapel’s website I learn:
“…the Lady Chapel continued to attract pilgrims to a degree that alarmed the authorities in York, and on the eve of Little Lady Day, 7 September 1614, sixteen people were arrested and subsequently confessed to having prayed at the chapel.”
It doesn’t say what their fate was or how their confessions were extracted but I take care not to pray while I sit to sketch by a shady tree under the gaze of the security camera.
Inside the chapel is a striking seventeenth-century statue of the Madonna and Child entirely clad in glistening gold with a rather startled expression and bizarrely large, sandalled feet emerging, one with no apparent connection to her anatomy, from beneath her dress.
From the chapel I can see other hikers below me on the trail and I try a shortcut but it probably takes longer than retracing my steps. This part of the trail is busier than some: the Cleveland Way, the Coast to Coast and the Lyke Wake Walk all share parts of the same route.
Into Arncliffe Wood and Scarth Wood Moor; up past a telecoms station bristling with masts and dishes but with no phone signal; then a group of low tumuli before a steep paved path down to the public road at Scarth Nick. ‘Paved’ on the Cleveland Way means narrow paths of uneven Yorkshire Stone slabs on the more level sections and irregular steps of stone on the steep slopes. Easy to follow but extra concentration is needed: every footfall is different; it’s easy to take a tumble and walking poles tend to skid too. The Cleveland Way was opened in 1969 and has since been paved in many places to reduce erosion but thankfully, it is dry today so the stones are not too sliippery.
The path continues to rise and fall past Coalmire, Limekiln Bank, Swine Park, Huthwaite Green and then out onto Live Moor, Holey Moor, Bonny Cliff and Carlton Bank. From a rough stone cairn on Live Moor I get my first view of Roseberry Topping in the distance and then it’s lunchtime and I find a patch of soft warm grass to sit and gaze from 400 metres up right across to Teesside and the coast.
Down steep steps to Lord Stones where I expect to see something geological, but it’s a cafe and glamping site, and then across meadows to another long, steep, lung-challenging climb up to Cringle End. Near the top is a stone seat with a grand view commemorating rambler Alec Falconer where I sit and chat to a Chinese woman from Peterborough and her friend who are doing the Coast to Coast.
Higher up onto Cringle Moor at 420 metres and then very steeply down 200 metres just to go up onto Cold Moor at 410 metres and then down yet again. The destination of the next climb soon comes into view. From far below, the Wainstones don’t look too impressive but the higher and nearer I get to them the more jagged and characterful they become until they are soaring above me in great dark, eerie shapes with a cold wind whistling through their crevices.
I find a sheltered rock to sit under to sketch and, before I get too cold, scramble along the path that actually passes through a gap in the Wainstones to emerge onto Hasty Bank. I have instructions to phone ahead from here to arrange a lift down from Clay Bank Top into Great Broughton where I have booked a room for the night at the Wainstones Hotel. I am met by the chef, doubling as a taxi driver, and the Wainstones turns out to be well worth its slightly higher cost although Great Broughton itself has little to offer as far as I can discover, being more of a commuter town on a main road. But that’s OK because I am pretty tired after all the ups and downs today so simply order the Chef’s Special of braised salmon and get an early night.
13 miles (21km) in about 6 hours