Looking out for village mosaics and distant views on a quiet section of the Cleveland Way National Trail.
Distance 5.2 miles (8.4km)
Minimum time 2hrs
Ascent/gradient 656ft (200m)
Level of difficulty Medium
Paths Mostly easy field and woodland paths; very steep and muddy climb up Thirlby Bank, 10 stiles
Landscape Farmland, woodland and moorland ridge
Suggested map aqua3 OS Outdoor Leisure 26 North York - Western
Start/finish SE 490866
Dog friendliness Dogs should be on lead throughout but can probably be off on Cleveland Way
Parking Roadside parking in Boltby village
Public toilets None on route
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1 From the humped-back bridge in the centre of Boltby village, follow the signed public footpath along the stream to a gate, and through three more gates to pass over a small footbridge to a stile. Continue following the stream, going over another three stiles, to cross a stone footbridge.
2 Continue over two stiles, then turn right to another stile beside a gateway. Continue ahead, crossing a plank across a drainage ditch. Cross the field to a stile and a stone bridge. At another stile in a crossing fence, go straight ahead through the next field to reach a waymarked gate. Continue along the side of the field to a wooden stile, then through a gate on to a metalled track.
3 Turn left and, at the end of the farm buildings, turn right by a sign to Southwoods and through a gate to go diagonally across the field. Bend left at a waymarked wooden gate to continue with a wire fence on your right. The path veers left and descends to a gate.
4 Continue through another gateway and past a house. Continue along the metalled track, and across a crossing track to a gate. Confusingly this old track is named Midge Holm Gate. Follow the track to reach another gate beside a cottage, Southwoods Lodge, and go on to a metalled lane.
5 Turn left here, following the track, then turn left up a public footpath, signposted to Thirlby Bank. This is a steep and often muddy track that ascends the ridge, past another public bridleway sign to reach a Cleveland Way sign at the top.
6 Turn left and follow the long distance footpath for about a mile (1.6km) along the ridge, until you reach a public bridleway sign to the left, to Boltby. Descend to a gate then follow the woodland ride, crossing a track to a gate. Continue ahead down the field, through a gate, and follow the track round to the right.
7 At a signpost, turn right towards Boltby, to continue to a gate. Pass a tree stump with a mosaic of a toadstool and descend to a gate on to a lane. Cross the stream by a footbridge and continue up the metalled lane. At the T-junction in the village, turn left back to the hump-backed bridge where the walk began.
The western boundary of the North York Moors National Park passes just outside the village of Boltby. It is a delightful, small-scale place, with a tiny 19th-century chapel and stone-built houses with red, pantiled roofs typical of the area. Despite its size, it used to have two pubs, as well as a tailor, a shoemaker, a butcher, a blacksmith and three masons. The single village street is crossed by the Gurtof Beck - pedestrians have their own ancient humpbacked stone bridge, from where the walk begins.
As you begin the walk you will notice a glittering mosaic of a kingfisher on a wall beside the Gurtof Beck. This is one of 23 that mark points on the Hambleton Hillside Mosaic Walk. This 36 mile (57.5km) route begins at the National Park visitor centre at Sutton Bank, and winds its way on and off the ridge. Further on in the walk you'll come across a tiled picture of a red-capped mushroom on a tree stump, and a search of Boltby village on your return will yield a dragonfly and a worm-eating mole.
The farm at Tang Hall has more ancient origins than you might think. Just before you reach it, you will notice deep ditches beside the path, sometimes filled with water. These are the remains of a moat which once surrounded a medieval manor house on the site. A little further on, the parkland of Southwoods Hall is typical of the managed landscapes of the 18th century. There are fine beech, lime and larch trees, as well as a cedar of Lebanon.
Beyond Southwoods Hall the walk passes through Midge Holme Gate and into woodland. This is very much pheasant country, and you are likely to flush out one or two of these noisy birds during the walk. Most characteristic is the male common pheasant, with its iridescent neck feathers of blue and green, its red wattles and long, arching tail. In contrast to the cock, the hen is duller - mottled brown and with a shorter tail. They are heavily protected from predators and poachers in these woods by gamekeepers, and kept well-fed during the winter months so that plenty survive for the shooting season, which begins on 1st October each year.
On top of Boltby Scar, just as you begin to descend from the Cleveland Way back to the village, are the scant remains of a Bronze Age hill fort, one of several along the edge of the Moors. It was 2.5 acres (1ha) in extent, and surrounded by an earth rampart and ditch on three of its five sides - the others were protected by the cliffs. It was mostly destroyed by ploughing in the late 1950s.
Follow the scar south to visit the White Horse at Kilburn. From the car park at its foot you can ascend steps alongside the figure. Unlike most such figures, it is not cut from chalk, so it takes toil and ingenuity to keep it white and well-groomed. Some 314ft (95m) long and 228ft (69m) high, it was cut by the local schoolmaster, Thomas Hodgson and 30 helpers in 1857. He was said to have been impressed by a visit to the famous White Horse at Uffington in Oxfordshire.
Look up during the walk and you are likely to see gliders soaring and circling overhead. They come from the Yorkshire Gliding Club at the top of Roulston Scar, beside Sutton Bank. The club was founded in 1934 and counts aviation ace Amy Johnson among its former members. In her day, the winch used to launch the gliders was a Rolls Royce Silver Ghost, bought and converted for just £100. If you want to experience the thrill of riding the thermals, the club operates all through the year - if weather allows - and offers 20-minute trial flights.
There is nowhere on the route, but nearby is the Sutton Bank visitor centre which has a decent café. In Felixkirk, on the west side of Boltby, the Carpenters Arms at the top of the village serves good food in the bar or the restaurant.