Cleveland Way: Cold Kirby to Sutton Bank


General Data

The Cleveland Way leaves the small village of Cold Kirby via the road, before taking a good-quality track south and then southwestwards to meet the edge of some woodland. This is followed for a short distance before it passes Hambleton House, then cuts through the woods to meet the A170 near the Hambleton Inn.

The trail follows the main road for a short distance before following the edge of the Casten Dike, a late Bronze Age or early Iron Age earthwork. Superb views unfold when this meets the high escarpment of Sutton Bank; the trail turns to follow the edge of the escarpment southwards, with grand views the whole way. It then curves to head east and descends above a white horse hill figure before reaching Low Town Bank Road.

Distance  4.9 miles
Ascent  630 feet
Descent  446 feet
Est. time  2 hours 10 minutes
Difficulty  easy

Map of the leg

Maps courtesy of Google Maps. Route for indicative purposes only, and may have been plotted after the walk. Please let me have comments on what you think of this new format.


This leg starts off from the minor road junction immediately to the west of the church in Cold Kirby at SE532845.

Follow the road westwards through the village; just beyond the last house on the last house after 200 yards turn left through a gate to head south down a track; after a couple of hundred yards the track curves to the right to head southwestwards for nearly a third of a mile. It drops down into a little dip before rising and curving sharply to the left to head south. After a few yards go through a clapper gate and continue on with a fence on the left and a field to the right. It goes through a second clapper gate and continues across rough scrubland towards an area of woodland ahead.

Once at the woodland, the path goes through a gap in a wall and turns to the right to follow the woodland's northern edge westwards. When the trees end go through a bridleway gate, cross a track and follow a grassy path that runs between fences, with Hambleton House off to the right. The path curves slightly to the left before reaching a second bridleway gate. Go through this to reach a surfaced track. Turn left and follow this track as it heads south; it descends a little dip before climbing steeply up the other side to reach the A170 road at SE524830, with the Hambleton Inn on the right.

Turn right to follow the A170 westwards, passing the inn on the right. Carefully cross over to the left-hand side of the road and follow the verge. When a road comes in from the left, turn left for a few yards and then right along a path that enters scrub woodland. The path follows the small ditch and bank of Casten Dike on the right for a third of a mile before it ends at a T-junction with a gravel path at SE517825, at the top of the Sutton Bank escarpment.

Here the main route heads north, but an official diversion heads south towards the Kilburn White Horse. It is easy to follow as it heads in a rough southerly direction above Roulston Scar. After three-quarters of a mile it curves to the left to head in a more easterly direction to reach the top of the Kilburn White Horse figure. Shortly afterwards the path forks; the official route takes the smaller right-hand branch. When this soon reaches some steps leading downhill to the right, head straight on along a vague path that descends to meet a minor road at SE516812. The upper left-hand path is in my opinion better; it curves uphill and crosses a footbridge before zigzagging to reach the road beside a car park at SE516814.

Whichever branch you took, return to the end of the Casten Dike at SE517825. Continue northwestwards along the obvious path; when it forks after a quarter of a mile, follow the right-hand branch for a short distance until it reaches the A170 once more. Carefully cross the road and take an obvious path on the other side that leads towards a car park belonging to The Sutton Bank Visitor's Centre at SE515830.


Places of interest

Cold Kirby

‘Cold’ seems an unnecessary appellation for a tiny village high on the Hambleton Hills in the North Yorkshire Moors, but on a sunny day the village can seem rather magical, with some superb views. Until the early 1300s the village was owned by the Order of the Knight’s Templar; after their suppression, it was given to the Knights Hospitallers. Its church, St Michael’s, was originally built in the 12th century, but the current building dates from 1841. The village has no pub, the nearest of which are at Scawton, a mile and a half to the southeast, and Hambleton, about the same distance southwest along the Cleveland Way.

location UID #333

Sutton Bank

Sutton Bank is perhaps best known for the steep switchbacks that raises the A170 about 130 metres from the Yorkshire plains onto the North Yorkshire Moors. It is on a west-facing escarpment that stretches north past the Hambleton Hills, and offers superb views on a clear day (author James Herriot proclaimed them ‘the finest in England’ - quite a claim!).

The escarpment was formed during the last ice age, when an ice sheet flowing south between the Yorkshire Moors and the Pennines eroded away the lower soft rocks, and the harder rocks above fell down. Material deposited by the retreating ice sheet formed several lakes below the escarpment, one of which, Gomire Lake, still survives.

In 1322 the Battle of Byland was fought nearby, with the Scottish forces under Robert Bruve beat off Edward II’s men, commanded by the Earl of Richmond.

The hill is home to the Sutton Bank National Park Centre, which gives information on how this iconic landscape came into being.

Nearby is the site of the ‘Nude in the Nettles’ murder, where a woman’s decomposed body was discovered in undergrowth in 1981. The woman has lain there for up to two years, and sadly has still not been identified.

location UID #334

The Kilburn White Horse

1.5 miles further south along the escarpment (along an extension to the Cleveland way) is a hill figure – the Kilburn White Horse. This is the largest and most northerly such figure in England, created in 1857. It is about 320 feet long by 220 feet high. As it is cut into a sandstone slope, limestone chippings have to be spread to give it a ‘white’ appearance.

location UID #335


Cold Kirby has little, if no, public transport at the current time (2012).

Sadly Sutton Bank fares little better; there is a bus stop outside Sutton Bank National Park Centre, but this only operates on Sundays and Bank Holidays during summer as part of the Moorbus Network.

For more public transport information, see the Travelline website.

Map information

Landranger (1:50,000)   Outdoor Leisure (1:25,000)
Landranger 100 (Malton & Pickering, Helmsley & Easingwold)
Outdoor Leisure 26 (North York Moors - Western Area)

Photos of this leg

Cold Kirby church.A pathside stall in Cold Kirby.Farm machinery to the southwest of Cold Kirby.The track heading southwest from Cold Kirby.Casten Dike.A plane towing a glider into the sky.The Kilburn White Horse.A footbridge on the path above the Kilburn White Horse.Following the path back around to Sutton Bank.A self-propelled glider.The view back to Roulston Scar.Following the path back around to Sutton Bank.A memorial to aircrew who died in the area.A sculpture outside the Sutton Bank Visitor's Centre.

Accommodation information

Hambleton Inn
Sutton Bank
North Yorkshire

P: 01845 597202

Grid ref: SE522831 (54.240694,-1.199878)
Garbutt Farm
Cold Kirby
North Yorkshire
P: 01845 597966

Grid ref: SE514834 (54.244118,-1.212026)
High House Farm
Sutton Bank
North Yorkshire
P: 01845 597557

Grid ref: SE522840 (54.24866,-1.201072)
Cote Faw
Hambleton Cottages
Sutton Bank
North Yorkshire
P: 01845 597363

Grid ref: SE523830 (54.240115,-1.199591)
The Forresters Arms
The Square
North Yorkshire
YO61 4AH
P: 01347 868386

Grid ref: SE513796 (54.209915,-1.214279)
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