North York Moors Walks
Date: 1st September 2012
Distance: 6.6 miles
Time: 3 hours
With: On my own
Start Grid Ref: SE620983
A straightforward walk up on to the moorland ridge above Bransdale to visit three standing stones before a lovely descent into Cockayne.
Route Summary: Cockayne - Blowarth Wood - Cammon Stone - Cockam Cross - Ouse Gill Head - Cow Sike - Cockayne
1. The track through the plantations of Blowarth Wood
2. Looking back down into Bransdale
3. The Cammon Stone
4. Westside Road, the old track that runs across the moorland ridge
6. Cockam Cross looking towards Three Howes
7. A glimpse into Farndale
8. A stone guidepost on Rudland Rigg
9. The track leading down into Bransdale
10. Enjoying the views over Bransdale
11. Hodge Beck
12. St Nicholas Church, Cockayne
Walk Detail: After a hugely enjoyable walk on Spaunton Moor back in January I'd vowed to myself that I'd try and visit the North York Moors a few more times this year. However, apart from a very short walk on a snowy Rievaulx Terrace in February, I hadn't got round to going back until this walk at the beginning of September. I selected this route because Bransdale was one of the valley's I'd not yet visited and also because it would give me the opportunity to go up on to one of the higher moors.
Reaching the tiny settlement of Cockayne at the head of the valley was in itself a little bit of an adventure. The reason being that Bransdale is a bowl shaped valley that narrows considerably at its 'foot'. This means that the only way into the dale is by driving over the moors either from Helmsley or Kirbymoorside. I took the road from Helmsley. It was very narrow in places and as I neared Cockayne I had to get through two gates as well. Apart from the worry of meeting something coming the other way it was a fabulous drive with great scenery.
The walk itself was very simple, after an initial climb up through the plantations of Blowarth Wood I arrived on Westside Road, just south of Blowarth Crossing on the broad moorland ridge of Rudland Rigg that divides Bransdale from Farndale to the east. Westside Road is an old highway linking villages to the north and south of the moors. Turning south I followed the track south for almost three miles passing along the way three standing stones.
The most unusual was the Cammon Stone with a large groove on one side, a benchmark and most curiously 'Hallelujah' inscribed in Hebrew on it. Further along and set a way back from the main path and not easily seen is the remains of Cockam Cross. Further south, and unmarked on the map is a tall guidepost inscribed 'Kirby Rode'.
Not far past the latter stone I left the main ridge track for another broad path that initially headed west before descending into Bransdale itself. This was my favourite bit of the walk. After a fairly overcast afternoon the sun had finally broken through and by this point it was shining gloriously over the valley. I finished what had been an enjoyable and supremely easy walk with a short detour to visit the tiny church of St Nicholas which is located on the hill above the cattle grid where I'd left the car.