Map based on Ordnance Survey mapping by permission of Ordnance Survey on behalf of the Controller of Her Majesty’s Stationery Office. © Crown Copyright.
Distance: 21/4 miles/3.5km
Height gain: 211ft/64m
Walking time: 1-11/4 hours
Start/Finish: Danby Lodge, east of Danby village. GR717084.
Type of walk: Gentle paths and quiet country lanes as far as Danby Castle. The return leg crosses rolling farmland and then follows a stretch of road before reaching Danby Lodge.
A short, easy walk through Esk Dale, ideal as an evening stroll or for stretching the legs after a visit to Danby Lodge. The route’s main attraction is Danby Castle, occupying a commanding position on the far slopes of Danby Rigg.
Make for the main entrance to Danby Lodge. Avoid entering the grounds; instead, take the path signposted Danby village, following a section of the Esk Valley Walk. Follow the path, glancing to the right for an impressive view of Danby Lodge. On the left sycamores can be seen fringing the parkland. Pass a stile and continue to a footbridge spanning the River Esk. White willow trees, common to river valleys, grow on the bank here; the leaf is narrow and a distinctive silver-grey.
Keep to the path as it curves gently to the right. Make for two kissing gates, with the Middlesbrough to Whitby railway line between them, and continue on a raised path between hedges and fences.
Turn left at the road and pass over a beck, a tributary of the Esk. Further on, the lane begins to curve right. As it does so, look for the railway track running straight as a plumb line along the dale floor. Continue to Duck Bridge, spanning the river.
This ancient, high-arched packhorse bridge, which dates back to the late-14th century, bears the coat of arms of the de Brus and Latimer families. Repaired in 1715 by George Duck, who was paid the princely sum of ten pounds, seven shillings and sixpence for his trouble, the bridge also includes a Ministry of Works sign dating back to the early part of this century. The sign warns that any person injuring or defacing the monument will be liable to prosecution, according to law.
Do not cross the bridge; instead, stay on the road and follow it towards Danby Castle, seen against the wooded north-facing slopes of Danby Rigg. Pass the entrance to Castle Houses on the right and make for the next road junction, with the castle ruin just a few yards away.
Danby Castle, part of which is a farmhouse, dates back to the late-14th century and was once the home of Catherine Parr, before she became the sixth wife of Henry VIII. The castle is being restored with the help of English Heritage and the North York Moors National Park.
Turn right at the junction and follow the road as far as a footpath sign on the right. Go down the field, keeping the boundary on the right. Draw level with Castle Houses farm outbuildings and cross a stile. Bear left across the field to a ladder-stile in the wall. Cross the field diagonally, making for a kissing gate and footpath sign. Follow the clear path straight up the field to a stile and footpath sign in the top boundary.
Turn left here and walk between fence and hedgerow. Bear right at the kissing gate and continue between hedge and field to the road. Turn right and follow the lane past Kadelands Farm and a sports ground. Bear left just beyond a house on the right and follow the path back to Danby Lodge, seen nestling serenely amid the trees, recrossing the railway line and the river.
The information given in this walk has been provided in good faith and is intended only as a general guide. Whilst all reasonable efforts have been made to ensure that details were correct at the time of publication, the author and Country Publications Ltd cannot accept any responsibility for inaccuracies. It is the responsibility of individuals undertaking outdoor activities to approach the activity with caution and, especially if inexperienced, to do so under appropriate supervision. The activity described in this walk is strenuous and individuals should ensure that they are suitably fit before embarking upon it. They should carry the appropriate equipment and maps, be properly clothed and have adequate footwear. They should also take note of weather conditions and forecasts, and leave notice of their intended route and estimated time of return.