Hole of Horcum - a walk of four seasons
The Hole of Horcum is a well known feature within North Yorkshire. It's easily accessible as the A169 Pickering to Whitby road gives a panoramic view of the full valley but to really appreciate its beauty you have to park the car up and take a walk.
Saltergate car park is a North York Moors NP pay & display so you'll need some change. It's £1 for up to 2 hours or £2.50 for over 2 hours. For this walk I'd recommend over 2 hours. You might do the loop in under 2 hours without the excursion to Skelton Tower but it's too good to miss!
It's early November and the season is gradually turning to winter. It's not unusual for snow showers at this time on these high moorlands so be prepared for changeable weather. This walk was probably the most changeable I'd ever experienced. One minute sunshine the next a hail storm! The colours of autumn this year have been nothing short of fantastic. A warm autumn, a late summer and a lack of stormy weather has kept the leaves on the trees for longer than usual. I hope to share the amazing colours of the trees and the bracken in this blog post.
Once parked up and paid up, take care crossing the road and head right with the hole on your left. If you have a dog with you, keep it on a lead here, as the path nears the roadside further on. When you head down to where the road turns around the hairpin towards Whitby, keep to the path and ignore the first left which descends. (Unless you want to walk this in reverse!). Keeping to the bridleway, hop over the style and the track is very pronounced. Keep to this track with more views over the Hole where natural springs have cut into the valley. Passing the 2000 year old earthworks follow this track for approx. 3.5 km until you reach a 5 way marker post at Dundale Pond.
It's time to head to Skelton Tower, you might as well get to the destination!
Follow the sign post marked 'Levisham Station' for Skelton Tower. Don't worry, we aren't going that far. Or if you only put a £1 in the car park meter take the direction of 'Dundale Griff to Hole of Horcum'.
We're going for it! After 200 yards or so the path ascends and we are at another junction with a reminder to keep your dog under control. The swaledale moorland sheep probably have it tough enough!
Take the immediate right path. You'll be pleased you have waterproof footwear if walking in winter. Not far along here you'll see why it's worth the walk. As you reach the brow, the trees and forest come into view and your destination, Skelton Tower.
Skelton Tower was built as a shooting lodge in 1830 by the local rector in Levisham. The views stretch nearly 360 degrees. Goathland Moor to the north, the whole of Newtondale to the west and Pickering is to the south.
It's an incredibly romantic monument, I'd love to be here on a summers night. It would be a perfect spot for a picnic, or in my case a flask of Yorkshire Tea.
Once set up with my tripod and happy with the composition, I couldn't believe it when a hailstorm blew threw. My kit was blowing everywhere, I couldn't find my lens cap or any lens cloths. It showed how quick weather conditions can change, but fortunately these were only short sharp showers.
I'd done a recce on the NYMR timetable, and I was 10 minutes before I expected a train to pass through. Be sure to check the timetable if you wish to see a train, as they only run on selected weekends in winter. When a train heads towards you from Goathland, it's heading downhill so you don't get too see much steam which is a shame.
As a second storm front came through, I was treated to rainbow. But I knew I was about to get wet, so I didn't hang around packing the camera gear away!
Time to track our footsteps back to the five way sign post at Dundale Pond and head down into the Hole of Horcum.
The path follows a steep sided ravine known as Dundale Griff, heading gradually downhill. At this time of year, the silver birch trees were presenting beautiful coloured golden leaves and the bracken on the right is a carpet of browns and burnt orange.
At the bottom, you'll meet Levisham beck and cross the footbridge. Important here not to pass through the gate but head left on the beck side.
The weather soon turns again!
Keep heading towards low Horcum and enjoy the views of valley you were once looking down on. Head past the eerie abandoned farmhouse of low Horcum.
Long exposure fail. Got caught up in hail again!
At this point I went wrong, and took a slightly longer walk to the right, but you can go straight up and meet the path further uphill.
One final style!
You'll find yourself back to the start of the walk, with a short hike back to the car park. Take in the final views of the Hole of Horcum to your right.
Next stop... The pub for a well earned pint!
Please Share, and I hope this inspires you to Get Outside.
Hole Of Horcum & Skelton Tower - Approx. 7.2 Miles.