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A Lastingham Round

From the ancient site of St Cedd's monastery to the attractive village of Hutton-le-Hole.

Distance 4.5 miles (7.2km)

Minimum time 2hrs

Ascent/gradient 463ft (141m)

Level of difficulty Easy

Paths Farm tracks and field paths, 8 stiles

Landscape Moorland and woodland, with views

Suggested map aqua3 OS Outdoor Leisure 26 North York Moors - Western

Start/finish SE 729905

Dog friendliness Dogs should be on leads

Parking Village street in Lastingham. Alternative parking in car park at north end of Hutton-le-Hole

Public toilets Hutton-le-Hole

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1 Begin by the Green and follow signs to Cropton, Pickering and Rosedale, past the red telephone box. Where the road swings left, go right to wind over a small bridge and beside a stream. Ascend to a footpath sign, and go right, uphill, through a gate and through woodland to a handgate on to a road. Turn right, signed 'Spaunton'.

2 Follow the road through Spaunton, and bend right at the end of the village, then turn left by the public footpath sign over the cattle grid into the farmyard. The waymarked track curves through the farm to reach another footpath sign, where the track bends left. At a barn the track bends left again.

3 After about 200yds (183m), follow a public footpath sign right and walk on to another sign as the track bends left. After 100yds (91m) take a footpath to the right, down the hill into woodland. Where the path divides, take the left fork down to a stile on your right, going off the track and down a steep grassy path into the valley. Descend beside a stream to a stile by a gate, which takes you on to the road in Hutton-le-Hole.

4 Turn right up the main street. Turn right at a yellow waymark by the Beckside Gift Shop. Go through a gate beside the Barn Hotel car park entrance and ahead through the garden and to the right of sheds to a stile. Go ahead over three stiles to a kissing gate before a footbridge. Follow the path through woodland to a gate and follow the grassy track to the road.

5 Turn right and follow the road for ½ mile (800m) and turn left at a footpath sign just before the road descends to a stone bridge. Follow the grassy path, going over a stile, to a footpath sign just before a farm.

6 Follow the direction indicated by the signpost to the left, bending alongside the wall beside a clump of trees and descending into a valley. Cross over the stream to a stile and a kissing gate. Continue walking with the wall on your right-hand side to another kissing gate and stile, which will lead you to a carved stone with a cross and a three-pointed sign.

7 Take none of the directions indicated by the sign, but turn right, downhill through a gate and on to the metalled road. Follow the road downhill back into the village of Lastingham.

'In high and isolated hills, more fitted as a place of robbers and the haunt of wild animals than somewhere fit for men to live.'

So wrote the 8th-century historian Bede about Lastingham, which he had visited. This was where St Cedd, Bishop of the East Saxons and once a monk from Lindisfarne, founded his monastery in 654, and where he died in 664. Although nothing survives of his church, Lastingham remains a holy place, not least in the ancient and impressive crypt beneath the Norman church. This was built in 1078, when the monastery was refounded after destruction in Danish raids in the 9th century.

Leaving Lastingham, the walk quickly reaches the single village street of Spaunton. Lined with cottages and farmhouses from the 17th century onwards, it seems typical of many villages on the North York Moors. But Spaunton has hidden secrets; the fields surrounding it are set out on a Roman pattern, and at the beginning of the 19th century a Roman burial was found near the village. Excavations, some 60 years later, also unearthed the foundations of a very large medieval hall, which indicated that Spaunton was once a large and important village, owned by St Mary's Abbey in York. When the estate was sold in the 16th century, the new landowners constituted a special court for the manor, grandly called the Court Leet and Court Baron with View of Frankpledge, which still meets to deal with the rights of those who can graze animals on the commons.

Reckoned by many people to be one of the prettiest of North Yorkshire's villages, Hutton-le-Hole clusters around an irregular green and along the banks of the Hutton Beck. The village has an old Meeting House and a long association with the Society of Friends. One Quaker inhabitant, John Richard, was a friend of William Penn, founder of Pennsylvania. He spent much time preaching in America; it is said he rode more than 3,726 miles (6,000km) and acted as a mediator between the white settlers and the Native Americans. He finally retired to the village, where he died in 1753.

Near the end of the walk you'll come across a new local landmark. Marking the year 2000, the people of Lastingham have placed a boulder carved with a cross on the hillside above the village. On it are two dates - ad 2000 and ad 654, the year in which St Cedd founded the original Lastingham monastery.

While you're there

If you're a real ale enthusiast, Cropton Brewery, 1½ miles (2.5km) east of Lastingham, is a place to head for. It can brew up to 60 barrels a week, and produces a range of beers with evocative names such as Monkmans Slaughter and Honey Gold, made with local honey. The Brewery and vsitor centre are open daily during the season, and by arrangement in the winter.

What to look for

There is a full range of activities at the Ryedale Folk Museum in Hutton-le-Hole, where old structures from around the North York Moors have been reconstructed as a hamlet. As well as an authentic Elizabethan manor house with a massive oak cruck frame, farm buildings, cottages and traditional long houses, you can see an early photographer's studio, a medieval glass kiln and a variety of agricultural tools and transport. There's also a fire engine and a hearse. Maypole dancing, rare breeds days and quilting are just some of the activities that take place during the year and you may catch the historic farm machinery working, or have the chance to try your hand at some of the almost-forgotten crafts.

Where to eat and drink

There is a range of cafés, tea rooms, restaurants and pubs in Hutton-le-Hole - the Barn Hotel Tea Rooms and the Crown Hotel are recommended. In Lastingham, the Blacksmith's Arms is a traditional village pub, while the excellent Lastingham Grange offers dinner and light lunches, as well as a full Sunday lunch, but is closed from mid-November to March.

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