Fox and Rabbit
Thursday 6th June 2019
Route Levisham (Little Field Lane), Limpsey Gate Lane, Dundale Griff, Levisham Brow, Wedland Slack, Lockton Lane End, Staindale Lodge, High Wood, Fox & Rabbit, Farfields, Cross Dale, Farwath, Sleights Road, St. Mary’s Church, Rowl Wood, Little Field Lane (8.5 miles)
Members Paul, Paul ‘Sherlock’ Holmes, Chris, Keith, Col.
A welcome trip to the North York Moors with nary a tractor nor truck to hold us up which saw us reach our destination at Levisham well before 9 o’clock. The sun was shinning, the birds were singing and spring has sprung into early summer, we knew it was going to be a good day. As per usual we picked up Col in downtown Wetwang but as he transferred himself and his walking gear from his to Chris’ car he managed to deposit most of what he was carrying onto the road. Good old Col, he never lets us down, and to quote Chris “There’s the first paragraph of the report already written”.
We parked up on a wide(ish) grass verge in Little Field Lane which skirts round the back of Levisham village. As we got ready for the off a local ambled by out walking his two whippets and a black cat…well why not? it’s a free country. Our route out of the village saw us heading to Dundale Griff before dropping down into the valley bottom where Levisham Beck meanders its way along.
There had been an idea that we might use a footpath that follows the eastern side of the beck but it isn’t an official path although the FAC have been known to make use of it in times past. These days it’s fenced off and has become somewhat overgrown in places so we had to resort to using the route as marked on the O.S. map which follows the footpath along Levisham Brow. On this lovely sunny morning it was a smashing route to follow threading our way through the thickly wooded hillside occasionally snatching views of the surrounding countryside through gaps in the trees.
We decided to stop for a brew and a butty before dropping down into the depths of the notorious Wedland Slack. The FAC have traversed this route on numerous occasions over the years and there have been times when we’ve feared for our lives, well almost, wondering if we’d ever extricate ourselves from the mud and fly infested hell that is Wedland Slack. But fear not dear reader as today was not one of those days as the seething boot grabbing swamp like mud had all but dried up and the flies were mostly absent…thank goodness for global warming.
There is a sting in the tail though as right at the end of Wedland Slack is a steep climb up towards Lockton Lane End. This can sometimes be made doubly difficult after the cows have trampled all over the area leaving deep delves for the unwary and perspiring walker to fall foul of. Former FAC scribe Jacko always reckoned he was going to pack in this walking lark every time he’d had to negotiate Wedland Slack.
Once we’d crossed the A169 Pickering to Whitby road we dropped down to Staindale Lodge where the path has been slightly diverted although it was a little hard to fathom why as it passes closer to the Lodge than it did before it was diverted. Keith & Col seemed to enjoy the route beyond the Lodge as it traverses a hillside leaving them with the feeling they had one leg shorter than the other. Paul’s claims that we took this route to keep our height fell on deaf knees.
Before the sanctuary of the pub we had the steep, twisting and murderous climb up through the trees in High Wood. All but Col had done this climb before but all made relitively short work of struggling to the top without expiring en-route. From the edge of the wood it’s but a short stroll to the Fox & Rabbit. Initially we thought about finding a pew inside and although there were a few lunchtime diners dotted about the place leaving a good few spare seats we decided that it was such a nice day we’d sit outside.
We had an enjoyable hour or so sat in the sunshine but soon we became aware that everyone else who had been sat outside had either driven off or wandered inside as dark threatening rain clouds were rolling in overhead. And sure enough just before we were ready to leave the heavens opened. Luckily Sherlock had deployed the large umbrella over the table so we took shelter under that until the brief shower headed out to sea.
From the Fox & Rabbit we ambled off past the farm at Farfields and down the steep path into Cross Dale where Keith spotted a Small Copper butterfly which for once wasn’t one of the camera shy varieties that he’s often attempted to photograph. Beyond Cross Dale we headed for Farwath with the North Yorkshire Moors Railway running alongside us. Of course we could have predicted once we’d struck off down the track named Sleights Road leaving the railway behind we heard the distant whistle and rumble of a steam train passing by which was hidden from our view by the abundant woodland.
Part way along this woodland track we stopped for a break on some conveniently placed logs. One of the topics under discussion was the absence of hard man of the hills Ray who has reluctantly decided that his walking days are over, well for this week anyway. Col probably has more reason than most to be missing Ray’s genial presence. Col carries a couple of water flasks in the back of his rucksack and to avoid having to take his rucksack off every time he needs a drink it normally fell to Ray to retrieve said flask and then to put it back again once Col was suitably re-hydrated. Of course with Ray missing none of us felt qualified to step into the breach as we haven’t had the appropriate training along with the accompanying risk assessment so therefore Col had to spend most of this warm sunny day unable to quench his thirst. Oh dear…what a shame.
Almost at the far end of the valley lies the ruined St. Mary’s Church. It was rebuilt in the late 19th century but its origins date back to the 11th century and is all that remains of the medieval village of Levisham which is said to have disappeared at the time of the Black Death. From the church there was yet another steep climb, this one up towards Rowl Wood with its twisting winding footpath infested with stray tree branches, abundant nettles and ankle grabbing brambles looking to snag the unsuspecting walker at every turn.
Once clear of the wood the footpath deposited us onto Little Field Lane with our cars no more than a hop and a skip away. Not that anyone was hoping or skipping as it had been a tough little walk with plenty of ups and downs. But for all that there had been some fantastic scenery and with the weather keeping mostly warm and sunny it had been a really good walk. So form an orderly queue and we’ll see you in a fortnight.
ON THIS DAY
4th June 2009 – Commondale to Danby
Chris, Paul, Col Hutch, Paul Craggs, Keith, Paul ‘Sherlock’ Holmes, Dudley, Ray, Jack Rhoades & Bob.
Paul confuses Sleights with Staithes and Captain Cook’s Monument with a telecoms mast. Jack declines having his photo taken alongside some Highland Cattle while Keith uses his new fangled SatNav to guide us across a trackless moor. Sherlock buys himself an extra half of Guinness to celebrate a monetary windfall as apparently Keith had insisted on paying twice for a recent MOT & service.
8th June 1994 – Low Mill to Rosedale Abbey
Jacko, Dudley, Ray, Paul & Alf.
With Red Leader One Bob absent we indulged in a little tactical sunbathing during the morning. Tactical as in it prevented us arriving at The White Horse Inn before opening time. The FAC communal flask met its demise in the car park at Low Mill although it isn’t recorded who actually dropped it on the floor.
14th June 1979 – Penhill to Horsehouse (Wensleydale)
Bob, Jacko & Chris
Climbed Penhill, Fleensop Moor & Melmerby Moor with a pub stop at the Thwaite Arms in Horsehouse.