What To Do

Dalby Forest


Map based on Ordnance Survey mapping by permission of Ordnance Survey on behalf of the Controller of Her Majesty’s Stationery Office. © Crown Copyright.

Length of walk: 4 miles
Start/finish: Low Dalby visitor centre car. Park off the A169 north east
of Pickering
Terrain: The walk follows clear, firm tracks and forest drives from start to finish. The standard of waymarking is excellent and all the routes are consistently clear and well maintained, though conditions may vary according to the season and the weather. Long steady climb on outward leg.

An easy circuit which keeps within the boundaries of Dalby Forest, an area beloved of walkers, horse riders and cyclists, as well as a vitally important habitat for wildlife. Providing fine vistas of the Dalby Forest and striking views of the valley around Low Dalby, the walk finishes by calling at the Dalby Visitor Centre, where detailed information on the forest is available.

Walk away from the visitor centre parking area, heading north along Dalby Forest Drive. Part of the North Riding Forest Park and offering a host of outdoor attractions, Dalby Forest is a hugely popular recreational resource. Pass a waymark and just beyond it is a sign for Snever Dale, Norse for narrow valley. Turn right here and take the cycle track into the trees. Pass a barrier and continue into the forest, climbing gently between bracken-covered slopes through the afforested dale.

During the 18th century Dalby Forest was used as a commercial breeding ground for rabbits, with as many as 16,000 of them culled every year. Relics of the old traps and warrens can be seen in the woods. The track curves gradually to the right to reach a junction of three tracks. Take the middle track and continue to climb steadily through the trees.

Turn right at the next T-junction, pass a turning on the right and cross over a forest drive. Take the next track on the right and head south-west towards Sutherbruff Rigg. Cross over a junction of tracks and cut between bracken-carpeted clearings into the trees. Pass a disused quarry on the left; piles of felled timber, stacked high in readiness for transportation to the saw mills, can often be seen on this stretch of the walk. Avoid a track running off to the right and soon bending left, and continue ahead. A track runs off sharp right and a grassy path branches off to the left at the next junction. Disregard both turnings and keep going in a south-westerly direction. Pass some mixed woodland, including beech, and follow the track sharply to the left.

Shafts of sunlight can sometimes be seen between the regulated rows of trees on the right, but such is the density and concentration that even on the sunniest day the scene amid the tangle of branches is eerily dark ­ like something from the pages of a children’s classic fairy story. Follow the track as it curves to the right and drops down to the next corner of the woodland. There is a memorable view of the forest from here, stretching towards Thornton Dale. The track bends right again to reach a major junction. Go straight over and take either of the two right-hand tracks. They merge after about 80 yards.

Follow the main track as it bends to the right and merge with a drive at a sign for Flax Dale. Laburnum trees and wild cherry make up the scene on the right. Pass a turning for Little Dale, then a barrier and a sign for Horse Box Park and continue on the main drive. On reaching forest workers’ cottages at Low Dalby, turn left, then right after a few steps by a copper beech tree. Call at the visitor centre and return to the car park.

From ‘Walks Around Pickering’ by Nick Channer.

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.