North York Moors Walks
Little Moor & the Hambleton Drove Road
Date: 28th December 2013
Distance: 6.1 miles
Time: 3 hours 15 mins
Start Grid Ref: SE467908
An enjoyable walk in the Hambleton Hills above Kepwick visiting the top of Little Moor and including a stretch along the Hambleton Drove Road.
Route Summary: Kepwick - Pen Hill - Gallow Hill - Little Moor - Hambleton Drove Road - Nab Farm - Kepwick
Photos: Click on the photos below to enlarge.
Walk Detail: My first walk in the North York Moors, way back in March 2005, was up on to Black Hambleton at the northern end of the Hambleton Hills on the western edge of the moors. Since then I've sporadically walked along most of the rest of the length of the long escarpment that runs from Wass in the south to Osmotherley in the north. This walk covered the one major section that I'd not yet visited whilst at the same time covering a couple of miles of the Hambleton Drove Road, an old way that may date back to prehistoric times and which gained its name during the heyday of droving in the 18th century when Scottish drovers brought their vast herds south to market.
Starting from Kepwick, the steepest part of the walk was tackled early on as we climbed a deep groove in the hillside surrounded, rather surprisingly, by rhododendrons which I imagine would look quite spectacular when in flower. Emerging from the rhododendrons the views really began to open out and behind us to the west we could even see the outline of the Yorkshire Dales with the silhouette of Pen Hill particularly easy to identify.
After a short section through some rather moist woodland we followed another trench like path before finally emerging on to the moorland below Gallow Hill where we enjoyed a superb view down to the environs of Kepwick and north along the slopes of Little Moor towards Black Hambleton. Here we faced a choice of routes, as I wanted to visit both the trig point, which lies away from all the paths, as well as Steeple Cross at the north-east corner of Boltby Forest. In the end we followed a path (unmarked on the map) along the outside of the northern edge of the plantations before striking out across the flat pathless moor towards the trig point.
The stone built trig point, which seemed to be crumbling in places, is situated next to a prominent mound. Whether this is a tumulus or the 'Long Barrow' marked on the map I'm not sure. The distant panorama was good but due to the surrounding moorland there was little depth to the view. Still it was a pleasant place and worth the detour. Less worthwhile was Steeple Cross which turned out to be a rather wonky and stubby boundary stone. However, by backtracking slightly to reach Steeple Cross, it did mean that we could enjoy a more extended stride along the Hambleton Drove Road which we now followed northwards as far as the almost imperceptible remains of Limekiln House, formerly a drovers inn high up on the moor.
Near the ruins we took shelter from the wind behind a wall corner to eat our lunch before commencing a quite beautiful descent towards Nab Farm. The views of our surrounds were enhanced by some glorious patches of sunshine and the view across the top of the farm towards the wide expanse of the Vale of Mowbray was particularly memorable. All good things come to an end and on this occasion it ended with a squelchy combination of mud and cow pat in the yard of Nab Farm but once past the farm it was then a supremely easy walk back to Kepwick on a minor road. A pleasant end to another enjoyable trip out to the Moors.