21/3/2019 Local Walks - Grosmont to Beck Hole
Enjoy the signs of spring on a circular walk of just under 5 miles from Grosmont that starts with a shady woodland stroll through the bluebells of Doctor’s Wood and Crag Cliif Wood.
Halfway point is the charming riverside hamlet of Beck Hole, before returning alongside the tumbling waters of the Murk Esk, following the line of the original Whitby to Pickering railway – now preserved as ‘The Rail Trail’ (between Goathland, Beck Hole and Grosmont). Grosmont itself was transformed by the railway, and steam trains are still seen here on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway. As the Esk Valley Railway also calls at Grosmont, this is a walk you can access without a car from Whitby, Pickering or Middlesbrough.
Great for: woodland wanders, riverside rambles, nature nuts, history buffs
Length: 4¾ miles (7.75km)
Time: 3 hours
Start/Finish: National Park car park, Grosmont
Grid Ref: NZ 827 052
OS Map: Ordnance Survey OL27
Refreshments: Grosmont, Beck Hole
Toilets: Start/Finish of the walk
About this Walk
Apart from a steep climb up the road to the start of the walk, the first half is a fairly gentle walk through woods and across fields. There are some stiles and gates, and a stone trod in the woods, and parts of the route can be very muddy after rain. After Beck Hole, the return is along the old railway line, which has a compact, hard surface and is fairly level (except for the final section at Grosmont, where there’s a climb and a descent).
The route runs through woodland, farmland, a farmyard and along the River Esk. Help prevent disturbance to wildlife, including woodland and river wildlife, by keeping your dog under control at all times, and always on a short lead where livestock is present.
Carpets of sweet-scented bluebells are a familiar springtime sight in many woodlands, especially in the dense, damp, deciduous woodlands and shady banks of the Esk Valley. Hyacinthoides non-scripta to its friends, the common bluebell is native to western Europe, but it’s Britain that really takes to the flower – amazingly, the UK boasts more than half the world’s bluebell population.
Adapted to woodland conditions, the show they put on each April and May is magical, flowering in profusion before the tree canopy spreads and blocks out the light. Bumblebees, butterflies and other insects love them, and in past times the bluebell was used in various folk remedies – the sap makes a natural glue, while the crushed bulbs are said to help stop wounds from bleeding.
Just before you cross the footbridge over the river into Grosmont at the end of the walk, glance behind you to see what is believed to be the world’s first passenger railway tunnel. George Stephenson built the original railway as a horse-drawn tramway. When steam engines replaced horse power, the larger tunnel was dug.
Throughout the 1830s, a small village – simply known as ‘Tunnel’ – grew up around the railway. With the discovery of local ironstone, Grosmont became a thriving industrial centre almost overnight, and by the 1860s it boasted its own furnaces, brick works and lime kilns. The industries are long gone, but there are clues everywhere to Grosmont’s pioneering past, from workers’ cottages and the line of the railway to the humps and bumps in fields that are the remains of the old ironstone drift mines.