BETWEEN Sutton Bank and Osmotherley lies a large area of grouse moorland, Arden Great Moor. This walk circles the moor on excellent tracks. It is an airy and invigorating walk with interesting views down the various dales that circle the moorland.

I parked outside Arden Hall, where there is some space at the tarmac road end. The parking is limited but it is an extra one-and-ahalf miles each way to park in nearby Hawnby (an hour extra to the day).

Arden Hall is an impressive country house built roughly in 1700 and presently owned by the Earl of Mexborough. The estate cottages nearby have been converted to private residencies. From the end of the tarmac road continue up the wide forest track that climbs steeply for half a mile on to the open moor. On breaking out of the woods and the remnants of some old quarrying continue west for a mile and a half across the moors to a meeting with a second wide track.

This is the Cleveland Way. Turn right and head north.

At the meeting of the paths is some parking, it is an option to start the walk from here and can be more convenient. The Cleveland Way at this point clings closely to the escarpment overlooking the vast Vale of Mowbray with, on a good day, the Yorkshire Dales beyond. The small settlements on the valley floor include Kepwick and Nether Silton. After a quarter of a mile the track passes through a dry stone wall with the Cleveland Way bearing left. Continue on the track north across the moors. In the distance is the notorious Bilsdale Transmitter on Bilsdale Moor (thankfully working!).

The track starts to bend in an easterly direction as it approaches the northern edge of Arden Great Moor.

The views also change with the wild moors and deep valleys of the North York Moors ever changing and full of interest.

The track continues to be excellent as it completes a U turn before taking a more directly east direction. A few hundred metres after taking the east turn is a series of grouse butts, proving a useful break from the cool wind. The grouse butts, screeching red grouse and the regular patches of ‘burned’ moor are a constant reminder that this is how the vast areas of moors are managed in many areas of Yorkshire. After the line of grouse butts the track meanders south along the eastern edge of the moor in a series of loops around deep V shaped.

As the track heads west there is a large wooded valley to your left (south). A second track forks left and drops in to the valley (Thorodale), then doubles back in to the woods. The attractive woodland is soon mixed with less attractive conifers but after the miles of open moorland it made a welcome change. The track does not pass the reservoir that feeds Arden Hall which can only be seen from the higher moors.

After following the track for over a mile it bends right and drops back to the buildings of Arden Hall.

Fact Box:

Distance: Roughly 8.5 miles (11.5 miles from Hawnby)

Height to Climb: 260m (850 feet).

Start: SE 520905. There is limited parking near Arden Hall. Alternatively add 3 miles return from Hawnby.

Difficulty: Hard: The moors are open and can be exposed in bad weather but al the paths are obvios and in good condition.

Refreshments: The Owl at Hawnby offers a refreshing pint and there is also a café in Hawnby.

Be Prepared: The route description and sketch map only provide a guide to the walk. You must take out and be able to read a map (O/S Explorer OL26) and in cloudy/misty conditions a compass (essential on this walk).

* Jonathan Smith runs Where2walk, a walking company in the Yorkshire Dales. He has published two books on the Dales, ‘The Yorkshire 3 Peaks’ and ‘The Dales 30’ mountains. Available direct from the Where2walk website.