Osmotherley is an attractive village on the edge of the North Yorkshire Moors national park. It's on the route of the Cleveland Way, one of the country’s earliest long-distance walks. It’s a popular spot, as we discovered on arrival. Already plenty of people were around, despite us having arranged an early time in the day for meeting.
A total of 15 greeted each other next to the market cross and its adjacent “barter table” in the centre of the village. We could see there would be opportunities for refreshment nearby at the end of our walk. For now we started uphill and soon found ourselves on a path away from the hubbub. Increasingly panoramic views appeared across towards Teesside and beyond. We were overlooking Mount Grace Priory, now an English Heritage property, and perhaps worth a visit on a future occasion. We paused for now at the Mount Grace Lady Chapel, in a quiet glade on the hillside.
From here wooden signposts reassured us we were following the Cleveland Way. The views along the Cleveland escarpment became even wider. We eventually descended to a narrow road which led us close to a reservoir named Cod Beck – I think the name Cod derives not from the fish but is a corruption of the old Celtic Coed meaning wooded – and climbed again onto open moorland. We passed The Chequers, a pub that appeared on the map but which was not now functioning as such. From this point we could see back down an attractive valley back towards our starting point at Osmotherley. Although the road we were following was quiet we passed a number of other walkers and groups who like us were out enjoying the scenery.
We turned off the road onto a farm track down to Oak Dale, a narrow wooded valley with smaller reservoirs. On crossing the stream we soon found the disadvantage of having descended was having to climb up again on the other side. This turned out to be a slightly more challenging part of our route and certainly the steepest! We were relieved at the top of the rise to sit down for our lunchtime sandwiches. They gave us a chance to rest awhile, munch and chat.
The next section of our walk was a bit more level, leading to a more gradual descent through forestry, providing contrast to the more open views of earlier in the day. Signboards indicated we were passing through the Thimbleby estate. We could hear frequent sounds of shooting, clearly a popular activity in this area. We passed through Thimbleby village on a quiet road. Our approach back to Osmotherley led us through parkland and along a well-marked footpath back into the village.
Before dispersing we were able to obtain refreshment in one of the pubs and sit with it outside for a while. We thanked Allan for having prepared and facilitated the day’s event, and looked forward to meeting again in the near future.