Cleveland Way #4 – Chop Gate to Kildale

I would be lying if I said I slept well. Owls woke me at 4am followed by Nellie the cow mooing through my window from the field at 6am. That’s country living. A glance outside reveals a low thick haze and it isn’t clear which way the weather is going to go.

Around the breakfast table Nigel and I are joined by Bob, also walking the Cleveland Way. Robin has been up since 6am tending the livestock but he had found time to cook breakfast for us on the Aga. As I’m last to arrive I get everything that nobody else has had – 2 sausages, 2 large black pudding slices, 2 rashers of bacon, 2 eggs and some mushrooms. My face says it all and everyone else thinks it’s funny. When I finish the lot they are no longer laughing and we are all equally surprised, but with such superlative quality local produce I’ve no regrets.

This is day 4 of the walk and I’m the lightweight with a mere 9 miles to walk to Kildale. Bob has 14 miles to Guisborough and Nigel is yomping an improbable 24 miles to Saltburn. In my defence I’m lugging my rucksack around while Sherpa Vans are shifting Bobs bag and Nigel’s wife is driving the “support car” and picking his bag up.

Robin gives us all a lift up to the trail in his twin-cab pickup. I had considered walking but this is a dull 3 mile section, plus I would have been spilt up from the others.

Nigel forges ahead
Nigel forges ahead

Nigel forges ahead. He has a long day ahead not helped by the fact he chatted with Robin until midnight, who plied him with two fingers of whisky. My kind of B&B!

Bob and I climb the path more sedately and the sun is soon winning the battle against the fog.

Even I cant get lost on this trail
Even I cant get lost on this trail

This section of the trail stays high and we have enough of a view to enjoy without really seeing anything in detail. The way is level and makes for a comfortable walk. There are clues to former quarrying – there be iron in these hills – none more so than the flat straight section of path formerly employed as a steam railway for shifting the ore.

One of the few landmarks
One of the few landmarks

There are few landmarks as such but Round Hill stands out (literally) as at 454m it is the highest point on the moors apparently. If I was walking alone I would be stopping regularly for a break but when you are enjoying conversation with a fellow walker you just keep walking. And so it is that at 12:30 I arrive at my destination Kildale camping barn and Bob goes his separate way. The sun reigns unopposed now and it’s great to know that I can now relax, read and perhaps write another blog.

An enthusiastic welcome!
An enthusiastic welcome!

My welcome is nothing but effusive. The owners are painting the farmhouse so their sweet dog, starved of attention, is desperate to play. I oblige with some Olympian stroking. It’s amusing when the onlooking cat butts in to jealously demand equal belly stroking rights.

My barn living room
My barn living room

Kildale barn – part of Park Farm – is a hidden gem. It lies just strides off the trail and commands sublime views plus the renovated buildings are full of character. Most astonishing is my personal accommodation. Because I’m early I can choose a private “barn apartment” instead of the larger communal barn. What an incredible room, with kettle microwave and radio – and for just £8 per night!

Two double beds all to myself
Two double beds all to myself

After a shower I sit on a bench in the sun watching farm vehicles bailing hay when a lady leaving the campsite generously gives me an icy can of lager surplus to her requirements. We chat awhile and she describes what a relaxing visit she has enjoyed, which seems entirely plausible.

On day two I didn’t want to walk a step further than necessary but by now a 6 mile round trip to the Dudley Arms in Ingleby Greenhow doesn’t concern me at all.

I wish I had this on my doorstep
I wish I had this on my doorstep

At the end of the pleasant pastoral walk a tiny butchers has an adorable selection of savoury pastry products but my catering is already all mapped out and I can’t think of a way to squeeze in an extra meal. The pub isn’t open yet and as I wait three young guys pull up on old bikes. They are doing a cycling pub crawl and this final stop is their fifth pub of the day. None of them are really cyclists and it’s clear they are just having a whole lot of silly fun.

We must all look like alcoholics as we pile through the doors when they are unlocked. Their WiFi is non-functioning and the food

distinctly forgettable but the ale is OK. I’m careful to leave while there is daylight and by now there’s a cutting chill in the air that demands an extra layer.

On my return there’s warming news with the belated arrival of my new cheapy camera. The irony is that with no little effort I have been pulling some acceptable pictures out of my poor quality camera phone. As I settle in for the night little do I realise that tomorrow would not be a day for taking photos…


Here’s today’s walk in point form…

In a nutshell
A short level march in clearing mist, reaching Kildale early afternoon

High point
Arrival of new camera

Low point
No WiFi in pub so no blogging

Looking ahead
Rain is forecast tomorrow and it’s going to be a tougher walk

Daily Stats
Stage  4 –  Chop Gate to Kildale
Distance  11.6 miles Speed  3.7 mph
Lowest  702ft Highest  1647ft
Ascent  869ft Descent  958ft

…and the route taken…

Cleveland Way #3 – Osmotherley to Chop Gate

What a difference a good nights sleep makes. Anne has breakfast on the table at 8am and we chat about walking and gardening. What a sweet caring landlady. She has even supplied a bowl of plasters for walkers with sore feet.

A sight for sore feet
A sight for sore feet

She doesn’t have WiFi. Or a website. Or even email. But – she has warmth and hospitality in spades. I’m a little bit sad to be leaving but the St Michael charm she gave me will serve as a reminder.

Patron saint of Full English Breakfast
Patron saint of Full English Breakfast

Catering over the next couple of days is going to be hit and miss so I stock up with food at the small village shop. Every day has seen some bodily malfunction – hip then calf and now a painful achilles. This latest malady is something I have experienced before near Hartington and it killed my walk, so I’m taking this seriously. A plaster is applied plus an extra pair of socks. Boot laces are loosened also and these cumulative changes seem to do the job so long as I don’t take long strides. Preventative care is going to be vital on a walk of this duration.

There is nowhere to put a tripod
There is nowhere to put a tripod

Fortunately, aside from a couple of steep climbs the trail isn’t challenging. Much of the route is across heather-rich moorland with far reaching views north down into the valley. For the first time on the trail I encounter several other hikers, including two American girls who have flown here just for the walk.

Old skool grafitti
Old skool grafitti

My lunch stop is at 408m where a cairn above Carlton Bank serves as a wind break. Other walkers stop for 15 minutes but I while an hour away relaxing and reading.

These boots were made for walking
These boots were made for walking

The sun is a good companion, warm but not intolerable as a fresh wind takes the edge off the heat. I’m listening to comedy podcasts that serve to take my mind off the discomfort from my achilles but gets me odd looks if I laugh as walkers are passing.

Other walkers, behaving better than me
Other walkers, behaving better than me

My legs are toughening up and the rucksack feels lighter. Other more experience walkers I have met have said that it takes a couple of days to “find your legs”. On this, my third day, it feels like I have found my legs. So much so that it’s almost a disappointment when in the lead-up to Clay Bank I have to take a tarmac road down to Chop Gate (pronounced “Chop Yat” apparently) on a relatively dull hour long diversion from the route.

It may have the name but it ain't Dallas
It may have the name but it ain’t Dallas

The door to my impressive three storey stone B&B is open and I have barely poked my head in when landlord Robin sits me down next to another CW visitor Nigel and pours us all some tea. So begins an enthralling two hour conversation in which we learn about Robin’s remarkably diverse career through the army, private organisations, police force and now to landlord and forager. As an ex copper he is keen to suss out Nigel’s profession but Nigel isn’t ready to blag to the fuzz and I suggest we consider him a pole dancer, which meets universal approval.

Plenty of old buildings in Chop Gate
Plenty of old buildings in Chop Gate

There is also a guided tour of the house (dating from the 1790s) and gardens, all originally part of the Lord Faversham estate. Robin left the city life of London to renovate the building and now he keeps hens, sheep and cows in the field across the road. He is particularly close to the cows and says that he sits on Nellie sometimes who (he insists) enjoys the attention! He takes me over for a sit down but Nellie is busy with other bovine affairs.

Herzlich willkommen Yorkshire Damen und Herren
Herzlich willkommen Yorkshire Damen und Herren

Nigel and I visit The Buck Inn 30 yards away for sustenance. The landlady hails from Germany (which explains the sign outside) and there’s bratwurst on the menu and Dortmund pilsner on tap at the bar. Much though I love German food and beer I feel obliged to go for the very quafable Buck Pale Ale (only available at this pub) and the delicious venison, recommended by Robin as it’s locally sourced.

The day goes down in flames
The day goes down in flames

The evening passes very happily as Nigel and I chat outdoors until sundown. A memorable day in the company of engaging people – it’s only a shame there hadn’t been time for blogging. Wednesday: the day my adventure went up a gear.


Here’s today’s walk in point form…

In a nutshell
More moors, fine weather and plenty of heather

High point
A fine evening with Robin and Nigel

Low point
Hour long detour from the trail to reach my overnight stop

Looking ahead
A relatively short walk tomorrow. Should be some good views too

Daily Stats
Stage  3 – Osmotherley to Chop Gate
Distance  11.7 miles Speed  2.6 mph
Lowest  591ft Highest  1483ft
Ascent  840ft Descent  1053ft

…and the route taken…