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Osmotherley and the wet Hambleton Hills

Osmotherley is an attractive village at the foot of the Hambleton Hills in North Yorkshire.  It’s popular with walkers, as well as those keen on a nice Sunday out with lunch in a local hostelry and a shorter ramble in the vicinity.  We’d gathered here on a few previous occasions.  This time however, we met in a slightly more adventurous location at the top of the hill.  By this means we resolved two aspects: it was easier to find a parking space outside the village, and it was better not to have to start the walk with a strenuous climb.

The weather however was to dampen the prospects of the day’s proceedings.  The turnout was cheering, with sixteen participants ready and enthusiastic for the day ahead.  From the start we had wide views across the Vale of York and towards the Tees valley.  Nevertheless clouds were gathering.  Paul our event facilitator greeted us with grim warnings of squelchy muddy bits, and extreme exposure on the high hills.  Actually setting off didn’t seem too bad, gradually downhill at first towards trees.  It was good to catch up with friends and to have a chat both with our regulars and others who were relative newcomers to our group.  As always on our walks the going seemed easier with convivial company.

We followed a well-maintained track for a mile or so.  It wasn’t until we turned off through a gate into fields that we started to encounter the muddy bits, mainly where cattle had assembled to pass through a narrow space.  We passed a farm where a sheepdog, uncharacteristically quiet and still, was intently watching a ram at the opposite end of the field.

It wasn’t long before we started to climb again, and the rain started to become more noticeable.  We decided to pause for our lunchtime sandwiches before the trees gave way to more open and exposed moorland.  The climb from here became a little more challenging.  While the views started to become wider the fog started to become more noticeable and we started to get wetter.  “Beware Adders” a notice on a gate warned – surely no self-respecting adder would be out in these conditions.  We consoled ourselves by considering this would have been a wonderful walk with a bit more dryness and sunshine.

Eventually reaching the top of the climb, we found ourselves on the Cleveland Way, part of a long-distance path which followed the top of the escarpment along a well-marked track.  We followed it northwards for a mile or two, again reflecting that the views across the country would have been amazing if it hadn’t been quite so wet, and there had been a little less fog.  We passed a few other walkers, perhaps going longer distances than us and looking equally wet.  From our elevated approach we were able to see the car park where we had started some time before we got there, so whatever our discomforts we were at least confident we weren’t lost.

In view of our state at the end of the walk we decided not to go back to the village for a cup of tea on this occasion.  However we were pleased to thank Paul for having planned our route and looked after us on the way.  Thanks are also due to all who participated, provided such amenable company, and who persevered to the end.  We are certainly not to be deterred from future walks, and we look forward to meeting up again very soon!

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