Long walkers weekend Thirsk – Group report 27/28th April

Outside the Paradise Farm Tearooms towards the end of Sunday’s walk

Thirsk in North Yorkshire was the base for two long walks by the East Cheshire Ramblers recently. Despite some unseasonable weather, the large group managed an eleven mile walk along the Cleveland Way on the Saturday. Starting with a car shuttle, twenty one walkers set off from below the large chalk figure known as the Kilburn White Horse.
The White Horse is the largest hill figure in the country measuring 318 feet in length and is 220 feet high and is said to be visible from around 45 miles away. The figure was created in 1857 by school master John Hodgson and his pupils together with several volunteers. During World War II it was covered up as it was a navigational landmark for enemy bombers.
Ascending steeply to the escarpment with limited views across the rainy Vale of York, the group first headed via the Sutton Bank Visitor Centre before heading east via the upland village of Cold Kirby to Flassen Dale where we stopped for lunch at some convenient picnic benches in the sheltered valley.
A short diversion was made during the afternoon to visit Rievaulx Abbey. The abbey was the first Cistercian monastery in the north of England and was founded in 1132. In this secluded corner of North Yorkshire the abbey prospered and in its heyday had around 140 monks and 500 lay brothers. Over time the abbey became one of the wealthiest in England and farmed over 24 square kilometres and had lead and iron mines. By the end of the 13th century the abbey’s fortunes waned due to an epidemic of sheep scab and suffered from raiding parties from Scotland. The Black Death in the mid 14th century meant that there was a labour shortage and the abbey was forced to lease much of its land. The final blow came with the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1538. Our walk continued to finish in the attractive little town of Helmsley.
The weather was better for the Sunday with a ten and a half mile long circular walk on the western edge of the North York Moors following field paths and taking in the attractive villages of Boltby, Kirby Knowle and Cowesby. In the latter we stopped for lunch before ascending back onto the moors and visiting tea rooms at an isolated farm shortly before the end of the walk.

Saturday’s lunch stop in Flassen Dale with a choice of places to eat lunch – picnic benches in the rain or in the cabin in the dry.

On Gallow Hill on Sunday’s walk. Nick decides to take a rest much to everyone amazement.