Initially this leg follows the souythern and western edge of the Sutton Bank escarpment, with rewarding grand views in good weather. It crosses the A170 at the top of Sutton Bank, with a visitor's centre a short distance away, and then continues north along quieter paths.
After falling to cross another road at Sneck Yate, it starts the major climb of the leg. It emerges from the trees and starts across some high moorland along Hambledon Drove Road, with Boltby Forest sometimes spoiling the views over the plains to the left. After the trees are left behind the drove road continues across the moors to reach the end of a public road near the old Kepwick Quarry.
This leg is a superb walk in good weather, but can be very remote and exposed in poor weather.
2 hours 56 minutes
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 immediately to the west of a car park belonging to The Sutton Bank Visitor's Centre at SE515830. To get there, head southwestwards from the visitor's centre buildings across the car parks for about fifty yards, angling towards the main road on the left. Join the trail and follow the path as it crosses a minor road before rejoining the escarpment edge.
Continue following the escarpment northwestwards. Initially the path is broad and easy to follow as it heads through trees, but it soon descends some steps and becomes rough in nature, although still easy to follow. The path emerges from the trees and curves to take a more northerly course to reach a viewpoint at SE506838. Here the path curves sharply to the right to head northeastwards before gently curving to the left to head north beside Hambleton Down. The path gently climbs to reach the low earth bank of an old hill fort; from here the going is relatively level and easy.
At SE507861 go through a bridleway gate in a stone wall and follow the stone wall on the left. After a short distance the wall and path curve to the right to reach another bridleway gate through the wall on the left. Follow a fence on the right towards High Barn. Pass to the left of the barn and continue along the path for another half-mile; cross a stile beside a field gate and continue for a few yards as it descends to reach a road at Sneck Yate at SE507875.
Carefully cross the road and start following a track that slowly descends through an area of woodland. The track initially climbs before cresting a summit and starting to fall. The track goes through a field gate to emerge from the trees into a field at SE505880. Cross an open area to reach another field gate that leads onto a surfaced track, with a small farm downhill to the left. Turn right to follow this track steeply uphill through trees. The climb is short but steep; ignore a forest track that leads off to the left. Go through a bridleway gate beside a field gate and head on towards High Paradise Farm.
Pass the farm buildings on the right; as the track curves to the right, turn left to continue straight on to another brideway gate beside a field gate. Go through this and continue along an unsurfaced track, following a stone wall on the left. Another gate leads to a T-junction with a track called Hambleton Drove Road at SE504889.
Turn left to start following the drove northwestwards. After a third of a mile it goes through a gate and enters an area of woodland; it skirts just inside the edge of the trees, and after a little over another half-mile it emerges through a gate out of the trees at Steeple Cross. Continue along the track as it slowly curves to take a northerly course across moorland, roughly following a stone wall on the left. A mile after leaving the trees, it passes the end of a public road on the left above the disused Kepwick Quarry at SE489915.
Places of interest
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
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.
The road at Kepwick Quarry has no public transport connections.