What To Do

The Esk Valley


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: 51/2 miles

Start: Sleights railway station

Finish: Egton Bridge railway station on the A169 to the south west of Whitby. Check the times of trains back to Sleights

Terrain: Virtually from start to finish this route follows the Esk Valley Walk; a fine mixture of field paths, green lanes and bridleways on the north bank of the Esk

There can surely be no finer way of discovering the Esk Valley’s numerous delights than by exploring it on foot. This splendid linear walk captures the rare magic of river valley scenery by flirting with the meandering Esk as far as the enchanting village of Egton Bridge. En route there are glorious views across Esk Dale.

From the car park turn right and follow the A169, crossing the River Esk at the northern end of the village. The bridge here was constructed in 1937 and replaces an earlier structure further downstream, destroyed by floods in 1930. Once across the river, bear left at the sign for Grosmont. Follow the bridleway to Woodlands Nursing Home, with the Esk visible down below on the left. Pass the nursing home and continue on the drive for about 50 yards. Turn left and follow the paved path down to a gate in the corner. Keep the fence on the right as the path approaches a farmhouse. Bear left at the stile for Grosmont, following the lane as far as a metal gate and a fingerpost on the left. Follow the trod, with glorious views across Esk Dale. Keep to the path alongside and then through trees. Cut across the field towards a wood, pass through a gate to a footbridge, then follow the path up steps and round to the right to a gate on the opposite side of a lane.

Once through the gate, climb steadily between trees and curve right to reach a gate. Skirt two fields by keeping to the right-hand boundary, make for a gate adjacent to a metal gate and now follow the left-hand edge of the field. Join a woodland path at the next gate and, beyond the trees, take the track towards Newbiggin Hall Farm. Cross two stiles and pass the farm buildings. As the track begins to curve right, cross a stile at the sign for Grosmont. Follow the paved path between field boundaries. Pass through a gate, bear left round the edge of a field and continue to another gate. Drop down some steps, descending between trees and undergrowth. Turn left at a junction of paths and head down to a gate.

Join a track, crossing the ford via the footbridge, and follow the green lane through several gates to Grosmont Farm. Continue ahead, eventually reaching the road. Go straight on, passing Priory Park, a residential development, on the left. Turn left at the next junction. Follow the road if intending to visit Grosmont, otherwise bear right after about 100 yards. A sign, positioned in the shadow of a sturdy old beech tree, points towards Egton Bridge. Follow the track alongside the Esk, passing through a gate and beneath the Middlesbrough to Whitby railway line. A cottage soon comes into view ahead; once past it glance up at the gable end. A sign attached to the wall indicates that this was once a toll road, falling within the jurisdiction of Egton Estates Office. Late-night traffic certainly wasn’t encouraged on this route. The gate was closed and locked at 10pm daily. The sign, which is dated August 1948, is in the form of a tariff, listing charges for motor buses, hearses, tractors, lorries, cars and motorcycles.

Pass a bridleway and a footpath as the track cuts through the parkland of Egton Manor, renowned in the area for its Californian redwoods. The fine house can soon be glimpsed through the trees. On reaching the road, turn left, cross the Esk and make for the Horseshoe Inn. The bar boasts a large stuffed trout caught near here in 1913.

Veer right at the entrance and take the path down to the stepping stones. Cross the river, follow the path between houses to the road and turn right. Bear left at the next main junction, pass St Hedda’s Roman Catholic church and follow the road to the station at Egton Bridge.

St Hedda’s, dating from the 1860s, is closely associated with Father Nicholas Postgate, the rebel Catholic priest who was born at Egton Bridge in the late-16th century and became famous as one of the last of the English martyrs. Postgate took enormous personal risk by continuing to minister to his flock at the height of the Roman Catholic suppression, tramping the moors in all weathers to bring relief and succour to the region’s poorest families. But Postgate’s luck eventually ran out. After baptising a child, he was tried at York and later hanged at Tyburn.

From ‘Walks Around Whitby’ 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.