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…

Cleveland Way #2 – Cold Kirby to Osmotherley

I dozed off last night to absurd radio coverage of the football transfer deadline and with my mind suitably numbed slept like a log. This morning my body also feels rather numb but I’ll take that over pain.

The farmhouse breakfast is splendid. I chose the scrambled eggs because I met the hens yesterday and sure enough they have dark yellow yolks and taste like they are supposed to. It occurs to me that many supermarket shoppers will never have experienced this.

Always hungry
Always hungry

Outside the Labrador slavers against the glass door (perpetually hungry according to my host) while some kind of digging is taking place on the farm involving industrial machinery and swearing.

Day 2 may not be the shortest leg but it should be the easiest as it is a very flat walk. The sun is breaking through the clouds as I set off and my body jolts as it is refamiliarised with the burden on my back. The hip is still nagging but hopefully it will clear up.

As I leave the farm a “Sherpa Van” pulls up with a delivery of rucksacks belonging to walkers due to arrive later who didn’t want to carry their loads. I decided against this when planning the walk but right now it’s looking tempting.

Sutton Bank is legendary not just because of the 25% inclined road that I drove up on Sunday but because of the panoramic view from the cliff edge.

Dramatic views even in poor visibility
Dramatic views even in poor visibility

A residual morning haze is reducing visibility but the views are great all the same. I’m unable to see the white horse carved into the hillside below nor do I spot any gliders that take off from the airfield nearby but that’s fine as I would only be tempted into taking photos that wouldn’t turn out.

Treading softly
Treading softly

The way is now delightfully level and soft, reminiscent of a former walk in the Isle Of Wight so soft and green it was like a stairway to heaven. This is the Hambleton Road – a wide grassy drovers track that has been in use since at least the bronze age. Trees obscure much of the panoramic view but it’s pleasant all the same.

Obscured view
Obscured view

When I reach moorland I am somewhat disappointed to discover that the heather has already bloomed and the purples have started to fade.

Faded glory
Faded glory

DISASTER! I drop my camera for the hundredth time. Unlike the previous 99 occasions my battered and much abused travel buddy is beyond repair. On just my second day of ten I have no camera! Some things you just can’t plan for. There’s a cameras on my phone but it’s very poor.

No, its not your eyesight
No, its not your eyesight

A grouse chooses this moment to land right beside me like it knows I can’t record the event. As I reflect on my misfortune over lunch the first walker I have seen today stops for a chat. John is a seasoned and knowledgeable hiker who is full of good stories and we walk and talk for quite some time until our paths part. I suppose the paucity of walkers is due to the fact that this section of the path runs 10 miles with nothing much en-route and casual walkers would choose paths that are shorter or circular.

Broken camera
Broken camera

The ease of today’s walk has presented no serious physical problems and John’s enthusiasm (he has hiked to Kilimanjaro and Everest base camp while feeling under the weather) has driven me on to be undeterred by any manageable bodily complaints from here on.

Osmotherly is down there somewhere
Osmotherly is down there somewhere

The approaches to Osmotherly are intensely populated with busy butterflies and spooked grouse. It is almost comical as each step sends more wildlife running from the verges.

Landlady Anne is lovely and after I’m showered she tells me all about the long distance walkers that stay with her. She has a formidable knowledge of the Cleveland Way, Coast To Coast and other walks and seems to know all of the landlords on the routes.

End of the day
End of the day

The blinding low evening sun casts the quaint stone buildings of the village in a favourable light. Not for me however – I’m online ordering a camera from Argos to be delivered to the camping barn in Kildale where I’m due to stay in two days time. I phoned them first to make sure they were OK with the delivery – what must they think?

One for the road
One for the road

On leaving the Queen Victoria pub I’m amused to see a horse rider drinking from a wine glass while saddled up. She’s talking with more conventionally seated punters and I can only presume she didn’t enter the pub with the horse to order the wine. Cue joke: A horse walks into a bar. The bartender asks – “Why the long face?

The broken camera distraction and a lack of reliable broadband have left me behind on my blogging but I’ll catch up when circumstances allow. By the time I’m walking back to my lodgings it’s cool outside and pitch black, stars shining brightly. There’s a bear on my bed and when I asked Anne what it was called she told me it had no name! I decide to call it Osmond and then settle in for the night. What a curious day, I’ve ordered a camera, spotted a rider drinking in the saddle and named a bear. I wonder what tomorrow will bring…


Here’s today’s walk in point form…

In a nutshell
An easy walk with great views

High point
The peace and solitude with very few walkers on the route

Low point
Breaking my camera

Looking ahead
I haven’t walked three consecutive days in almost 30 years. Will my fitness be up to it?

Daily Stats
Stage  2 – Cold Kirby to Osmotherley
Distance  13.0 miles Speed  3.2 mph
Lowest  640ft Highest  1444ft
Ascent  476ft Descent  640ft

…and the route taken…