Our latest walk

Thursday 18th May 2023


Wrench Green, Cockrah House, North Stile Cottage, Spikers Hill, Scarwell Wood, Dreakenfield Hill, Yedmandale Road, West Ayton (Ye Olde Forge Valley Inn), Ayton Castle, Forge Valley, Scarwell Wood, River Derwent, Cockrah House, Wrench Green (8 miles).

Sherlock, Paul, Keith, John, Stu & Col.

Our walk today was planned to start in the village of Sneaton, a few miles south of Whitby, then along footpaths in the vicinity of the River Esk. We met up at Bishop Burton then headed north towards Staxton and Seamer. As we travelled north it became clearer by the mile that travelling quite that bit further than we normally do should have come with an earlier start to the day. Not far from Hackness it was coming up to 9 o’clock and we were still a good 20 to 30 minutes away from Sneaton, so after a quick stop we decided to cut short our journey and head back a mile or so down the road to Wrench Green.

Wrench Green, the start of our walk.

From Wrench Green there are various routes to nearby West Ayton and it’s a lovely area to walk in plus it boasts a decent pub with another in neighbouring East Ayton. One of them was bound to be open so it wasn’t a difficult decision to make. We took the farm track past Cockrah House and North Stile Cottage before gradually climbing up through the woodland to Spikers Hill. We met a couple of walkers coming in the opposite direction who seemed a little confused as they claimed that the path they were searching for had been fenced off. After a discussion as to where they were actually heading, we suggested an alternative route which they happily took.

Looking towards Everley Banks

Just beyond Spikers Hill we stopped for a brew and a butty before carrying on to West Ayton. Our meandering footpath ran along the top edge of the west side of Forge Valley through some pleasant woodland and although cloudy it was quite warm. Eventually we left the woodland behind and after crossing farmland we walked along the lane that would lead us into West Ayton. There was about 20 minutes to go before beer o’clock so we sat on a bench, or three of us did anyway, and whiled away a few minutes before heading off to Ye Olde Forge Valley Inn.

We have history at this pub, or at least Keith does, involving the wanton destruction of pub furniture. But we shall draw a discreet veil over that particular incident which was long ago and of which the current owners know nothing of. If they did we’d very likely be drinking at the Dennision Arms in nearby East Ayton. We’ve actually used the Forge Valley Inn numerous times over the years and it’s always been a good pub with a nice friendly atmosphere and decent well kept ales on offer. What more do you need from a pub?

Some of the wildflowers seen today

We spent the best part of an hour in the Forge Valley and suitably refreshed we were ready to tackle the second half of our walk. We’d decided to head back to Wrench Green using the footpath that runs alongside the River Derwent in the bottom of Forge Valley. It’s an excellent mostly wooded route but we knew there would be an ‘issue’ a couple of miles further down the track.

Once past the remains of Ayton Castle the footpath carries on along wooden duck boards as the ground adjacent to the river tends to be quite boggy and wet most times of the year. We last trod this route a couple of years ago eventually coming upon a wooden fence blocking our way with a large sign attached proclaiming the footpath was closed. We dutifully followed the signed diversion which started with a murderous climb up the west side of Forge Valley before the path disappeared having been swallowed up by the surrounding undergrowth. That left us us floundering around looking for a way through the dense greenary and we were not going to get caught out a second time.

The path through the buttercups.

This time we would not be so easily dissueded so we climbed the wooden fence blocking our route and continued along the closed section of footpath. The reason for the closure was quite apparent as we made our way along the riverside footpath as a number of the duck boards were damaged and broken. There were loose boards and numerous gaps to negotiate but there was nothing to daunt the determined walker, like what we are. It was a far better option than the so called diversion route. This is commonly known as hill craft, long practiced by the FAC.

Forge Valley

At the northern edge of Scarwell Wood the duck boards finish and the path crosses open pasture. On this warm afternoon it seemed a good place to stop for a brew. As we lay about in the grass making the place look untidy a large group of heifers were taking an interest in our presence. Slowly they got closer and closer, but not too close, and when we got up to leave they all ran off. But past experience has taught us to keep a wary eye on such beasts as they have a tendency to charge around en masse as if they own the place.

The footpath more or less follows the River Derwent upstream with a mixture of rough pasture and spongy ground underfoot. At one point along our route Stu realised his phone was missing and as we’d not long climbed a stile he reckoned it might have fell out of his pocket back there. He backtracked a short distance as Keith rang his number and luckily not far down the track his phone was retrieved. Naturally it had fell amongst a bunch of nettles edge ways on and had it not been for the phone ringing he would never had found it, or got stung by the nettles. A small price to pay.

The path through the woods.

And so we eventually arrived back at Wrench Green having cobbled together a walk we weren’t intending to do but glad that we did. As ever it had been a good day in a lovely part of the world, decent weather, excellent pub and great company. We like walking, we do, us.

Right Stu, have you got your phone?

Ayton Castle


  1. Thank you for this report..
    A beautiful area for walking and he photographs show us all that..
    Keep up the good walking even hough sometimes you do have to be a tad naughty..
    It so enjoyable though innit eh ??????..

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