North York Moors Walks
Bilsdale West Moor
Date: 29th May 2013
Distance: 6.4 miles
Time: 3 hours 15 mins
With: On my own
Start Grid Ref: SE558993
Some fine views of Bilsdale and Raisdale and an easy path along the top of West Bilsdale Moor more than compensated for a muddy, cow infested start to the walk.
Route Summary: Chop Gate - Orterley Farms - High Crookleith Farm Beacon Guest Crags - Flat Howe - Cock Howe - Green Howe - Cock Howe - Trennet - Chop Gate
Photos: Click on the photos below to enlarge.
Walk Detail: After a busy day that included re-felting the shed roof I had time for a medium sized walk in the late afternoon / early evening. After wasting about half an hour trying to decide where to go I finally made my mind up and set off in the car at about 3.30pm for the North York Moors for this walk up on to Bilsdale West Moor in the North York Moors.
Bilsdale West Moor has been on my 'to-do' list for sometime. While it is not nearly as well defined as some of the Cleveland Hills to the north it is always easy to pick out the moor from a distance due to the 314m high Bilsdale transmitter mast that sits on it. The aim of this walk was to visit the mast before heading north to the summit of the moor near Cock Howe.
Starting from the car park by the village hall in Chop Gate the initial 'path' alongside the River Seph was identifiable only by being slightly less overgrown than its surrounds. Almost straight away I came across a hedgehog just to the side of the path but despite waiting quietly nearby for almost ten minutes it refused to uncurl itself.
After some squelchy moments I reached Orterley Farm and on to Low and High Crookleith Farms. By the time I'd reached the latter I'd already had to to enter two pastures containing cows so when I got chatting to the friendly farmer at High Crookleith I anxiously asked him if there were any more cows ahead. He said they were but I'd be fine and then added, "there is a bull as well, but he is daft as a brush". I didn't feel very reassured. In fact I had to cross two more fields containing cows, my nerve held across the first but in the last one I avoided the direct path and instead took the long way skirting around the edge of the field feeling safer with a nice wall to jump across if necessary.
Having finally escaped from the bovine infested pastures of the valley I then had to locate and stay on the somewhat overgrown path leading up on to the moor between Crookleth and Beacon Guest Crags. For the most part the path took the form of a deep groove in the moor surrounded by bilberry and bracken. Despite being a bit awkward to navigate ample compensation was to be found in some lovely views back down in to Bilsdale.
Eventually the path gave out so I set off across the moor to the mound of Flat Howe which was nearer to the mast than the path suggests, mainly because the mast is so huge and covers a larger area than the map suggests. Having taken in the sheer size of the thing I turned away from the mast for a bit of heather bashing to reach the wide track that runs from south to north along the top of the moor.Now able to pick up the pace I was could march along aiming for the top of the moor.
The highest spot height is 404m near the boundary stone on Green Howe but it seemed to me that the mound of Cock Howe to the south was higher. The views from both Green Howe and Cock Howe were good, not only of the surrounding moors, but also west towards the Yorkshire Dales where I could clearly make out the valleys of Wensleydale and Swaledale. Further to the north-west I also thought I could see the North Pennines.
From Cock Howe it was a quick and easy descent to Chop Gate on a much better path than the one I had ascended the moor. Once again the views of the valley were lovely and it was a shame the skies had clouded over as some late evening sunshine over Bilsdale would have provided me with some lovely photo opportunities.