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North Yorkshire Moors: Wainstones and Heather

The Wainstones and Cold Moor (8 miles)

Heather, to me, is like cat nip to cats.  It makes me go all strange.  The colour, the smell, the wildness of a windswept, heather-clad moor… thank God it wasn’t a full moon as well!

I had a rare, free Saturday.  Now I could have spent it cutting my hedge. I could have spent it doing laundry and housework.  Sod that.  I’ve been having a serious bout of Cabin Fever and there’s only one cure.  A proper walk in the hills.

So, Saturday saw me heading to Chop Gate at the sort of Western side of the North Yorkshire Moors National Park for a classic round of the Wainstones via Cold Moor and returning along Urra Moor.  I parked up in the Village Hall (which only charges £1 for as long as you like it would seem) and headed off up the road, past The Buck Inn, and turned up Raisdale Road and did an immediate right turn to walk up the Bridleway behind the little Church.

Up, up, up it went.  There was a few squelchy bits (useful tip – don’t grab nettles with your bare hands to steady yourself) but most of it looked like this:


And then I burst out on to the open moor.  Where’s the heather?  Gimme, gimme, gimmeeeeee heather:
Move along folks, no heather here

Looking back over the valley I’ve just come from to the mast on Bilsdale Moor…. There’s heather up there:
Heather on Bilsdale Moor

Finally, heather:
Mmmm, heather

Oh yeah, ohhhh yessss sirrrreeeeee.  Now you’re talking:
Heather and Cottongrass
Even though there’s lots of it, it doesn’t seem as bright as previous years.  Maybe it’s the moor I’m on or maybe I’ve got here a smidgen too late in the season, I’ll never know.

I uffed and puffed my way up, battling against a pretty strong and blustery wind.  Thankfully “Cold Moor” didn’t live up to its name but if it’s that windy all the time I can imagine it’s a pretty fierce place to be in Winter.

Eventually I reached a high point and, oh, what’s this?  Now there’s a familiar sight:
Roseberry Topping
Roseberry Topping (granted, a zoomy in jobbie but still Roseberry Topping nevertheless).

I said “a high point” not “the high point”…. Somehow, I didn’t notice the gradient, so sidetracked by pink stuff was I….More heathery loveliness:

Heathery track and angry skies

A cairn at a junction of paths, with views towards Middlesbrough beyond:
Looking towards Middlesbrough

Urra Moor looking supremely purpliefied on the horizon:

Heather on Urra Moor

A zoomy in of the Wainstones (can you spot the walkers?):

Wainstones from Cold Moor

Mandatory Signpost OCD:

Signpost OCD

I’m heading along the Cleveland Way now on my way up to the Wainstones.  Last pull up to them:

Good path up to the Wainstones
I sort of clambered and scrabbled my way up round the back of the wonderfully grippy rocks in a make it up as I go along fashion and you really do “pop” out onto the top.  I got chatting to a couple from Australia who were doing the Coast to Coast and soon after, 3 Americans, also doing the C2C.  We were so busy admiring the views that I only took one photograph which really doesn’t do the views justice:

View from the top of the Wainstones - looking towards Urra Moor

With the wind behind me now I fair bounced along the Cleveland Way on the lovely paved path:

Cleveland Way along Hasty Bank

I think this has to be my favourite pic – Hasty Bank, with the two Australians:

Hasty Bank
The Americans called these Belted Galloways “Oreo Cattle”:

Belted Galloway Cattle (aka "Oreo Cows")

After a steep but pleasant descent I found this bench and thought it would be rude not to stop and make use of it:

Bench on descent to road
The inscription is dedicated to a chap who died whilst doing the Lyke Wake Walk.

I crossed the road and headed up along the Cleveland Way to get onto Urra Moor:

Cleveland Way path up to Urra Moor
Only this is where it all went wrong… and not in a funny, humorous way either.  You know that lovely paved path I raved about earlier?  Well, some of the grassy bits in between the slabs are hollow drainage channels and I managed to get my foot stuck in one.  I fell down and felt something in my foot “go”.  I got back up and pain shot through the top of my foot so I limped to the fence.  Fortunately, I’d not gone very far up from the road so after resting a while I VERY carefully made my way back to the road.

What to do now?  I re-laced my shoe to take the pressure off the top and gingerly hobbled about a bit.  After discovering so long as I kept my foot flat the pain was “alright”, it was bearable, I decided to abandon my plans to go up onto Urra Moor and headed down a track which ran parallel to the road.  This was a slow and painful journey with many stops and I decided, as much as I didn’t want to, I’d be better off walking on the road itself.  Once on the smooth surface of the road I found it much easier, plus the Ibuproen pill I’d taken earlier had kicked in.  So, glutton for punishment, I turned off up the much quieter Urra farm road – still a nice, smooth proper road surface but without the fast and noisy traffic of the main road.

Despite the dull ache and occasional “ouch” when I tried to step out too energetically which jarred the top of my foot, this was actually quite a pleasant lane to walk along with some cracking views of the escarpment below Urra Moor:

Urra Moor escarpment from Urra Farm Road

I got to St Hilda’s Church and had a feeling there would be benches to sit on here:

St. Hilda's Church
I took my shoe off and had a look and a prod (ouch).  It doesn’t feel good so I hastily put my shoe back on again in case it swelled up some more.  The shoe was cradling my foot snugly and keeping it fairly rigid anyway and I think this was a good thing. 

I distracted myself by playing Dot to Dot with Sheep:

Sheep Dot to Dot
I finally got back to my car and wondered … would I be able to drive my car?  I gingerly tried the clutch … IT CHUFFIN’ HURT LIKE HELL. 

The drive home was less than fun and the longest 2 hours of my life. But, I got home safe, and that’s the main thing.

At the time of writing this, I’m sat with my foot in a bowl of iced water.  I’m not sure if that’s the right thing to do but my foot’s numb and it doesn’t hurt anymore. Edit: However, after getting it looked at, it turns out to be a sprain but the bruising and swelling is making it look and feel worse than it is.

Despite all of this, it was a lovely walk.  Couldn’t fault the weather and it really cleared my head.  I fear it hasn’t fully cured my Cabin Fever though.  The original walk would have been about 9 miles.  I cut it short by, ooooh, a mile seeing as my accident happened at the furthest point away from my car that I could be (of course).

Thanks for reading.

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