Weekend Walk: Swainby and Live Moor

Looking towards Carlton Bank from the cairn on Live Moor
Looking towards Carlton Bank from the cairn on Live Moor
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This route is far from being a staple feature of walking guides to the North York Moors National Park, yet judging by the number of people encountered on the stretch through Clain Wood and over Live Moor it seems fairly popular.

And rightly so. Showcasing the 108-mile Cleveland Way’s inland landscape, it follows a beautiful section of the national trail along the north west side of the national park. Highlight is the superb view westwards across the Vale of Mowbray towards the Yorkshire Dales and Pennines, and north east to Teesside and the North Sea. Of special interest along the route are the cairn on Live Moor, which is on top of a Bronze Age burial mound dating from 2000BC, and the ruined gatehouse of Whorlton Castle, which was built in the 12th century to defend an important road on the western side of the North York Moors. Red grouse and common buzzard may be encountered on areas of open moor.

The view towards Teesside and the North Sea from Live Moor.

The view towards Teesside and the North Sea from Live Moor.

1. From the village hall walk up High Street with Crook Beck to your left. Ignore a turnoff leading to Scugdale and continue uphill. On a bend next to Bay Tree Cottage walk straight ahead towards a plantation.

2. Turn left through a gate to join the Cleveland Way. Follow the pleasant path through woodland. Just beyond where a lovely view opens out across Scugdale turn left to follow a path down a sloping field. Go through a handgate further on, join a rough track and cross a footbridge. At a small car park turn left on a metalled lane which snakes uphill.

3. At a junction cross the road slightly to the right to continue on the Cleveland Way through a gate. The path skirts the edge of Live Moor Plantation. At two gates take the one on the right leading to a steep path climbing through the woods. Eventually it emerges on Live Moor and is easily followed to the prominent cairn.

4. Continue ahead from the cairn. The path descends a slope, partly paved and cobbled. Look for a path turning left through a slight gap in the heather. It becomes clearer further on and eventually swings left of a better path, skirting the edge of woodland. Turn right through a gate further on and follow the straight path as it steeply descends to the other side of the plantation.

Swainby

Swainby

5. At a gate swing left to take a track known as Bank Lane. Follow it in a straight line past High Farm on the right and the distinctive mound of Whorl Hill on the left. In the village of Faceby turn left on Church Lane and continue to St. Mary Magdalene Church.

6. Past the church follow a footpath to the left of houses to pick up a path which crosses a field and runs between Whorl Hill Wood and Whorl Hill Farm. Follow the clear path along field edges to Whorlton Lane and continue along the tarmac road, passing Whorlton Castle. Back in Swainby, cross Crook Beck and turn right to return to the village hall.

Difficulty rating: 3 star.

Distance: 6 1/2 miles

Looking across Scugdale to Live Moor Plantation

Looking across Scugdale to Live Moor Plantation

Time: 3 hours

Map: OS Explorer (1:25000) OL26 North York Moors Western Area

Parking: Responsible/informal, Swainby village, off A172 between Northallerton and Stokesley

Public transport: Swainby is on the Northallerton-Stokesley-Middlesbrough bus route. For times visit www.traveline.info or call 0871 2002233.

Refreshments: Swainby, Faceby

Toilets: Swainby