Swainby to Osmotherley via Drovers Road

Soo Peeps, today we learn about the beauty of the glorious North Yorkshire Moors, the work of the National Parks volunteers and the importance of having a builder move your dart board!

Swainby to Osmotherley


Today we’re exercising our old farts passes (OFP’s) on the bus to Swainby where our other third is waiting  patiently for us ready to re-enact his last darts match and give us a dart by dart account of how and why he lost.

After a brief check that the Swainby toilets are clean (they always are) we make our way along Main Street where a photo opportunity is explored by Snapper Pete. His eye for a picture is excellent and both bridge and church are used to maximum advantage.

Click on any image and you can page through at full size…

The trees are beginning to take on their autumn colours and the sunshine is showing them to their most beautiful advantage as we make our way up Shepherd Hill. If you decide to walk this route please take every opportunity to look behind you and to the left where Whorl Hill will delight you with its symmetry and colour.

We make our way through the gate and cross the Cleveland Way where the ascent of what we call ‘Cardiac Hill’ begins (the OS Map actually labels this as Limekiln Bank but we prefer Cardiac Hill, it’s more descriptive). This is an ascent of about a mile and there is very little relief. We stop a couple of times to catch our breath but the raised heart rate is exhilarating and we know that as we cross the cattle grid it’ll get easier and we’ll also be rewarded with excellent views across Scugdale, Near Moor and Pamperdale.



The heather has taken on its winter colour enabling the grouse to hide with ease but it does mean that when they do come scuttling out in front of us they’re usually only a couple of yards away and when you couple the noise of the wings with the urgency of their call we duck involuntarily and raise a hand to protect our face even though there is never any danger.

About half way between Near Moor and Far Moor (we’re very descriptive with our place names in Yorkshire) we double back on ourselves to follow the contour around the moor and giving a wonderful view of Whorl Hill framed in the lower reaches of Scugdale with blue sky as a backdrop, just wonderful.

We make our way adjacent to a dry stone wall that starts in the middle of nowhere and ends in a similar nondescript place and punctuated with a gap that leads your eyes to Cod Beck Reservoir. There’s a park bench type seat placed as a memorial and it’s been set to take full advantage of this delightful view across the moor, so we do!

The track across the top of the moor is both wide and well kept by the lovely people who volunteer to maintain our national parks and we’re grateful to them. We’re walking into the sun but it’s nearly mid-day so it’s well up and the reservoir is bathed in bright light that reflects vivid blue off the sky.


At Sheepwash, George talks about childhood days when he’d bike up to this lovely area and explore the stream as far as the split where one rivulet branches up Oak Bank Gill and Crabdale Beck becomes a tributary from the right, beyond this point it would get quite rough in the gorse and rocks.

Today we decide on the Drovers Road to lengthen the walk a little from five to just over seven miles.  The drovers used to bring huge herds of cattle from the Highlands of Scotland across the Hambleton Hills on the way to the markets of East Anglia, the Midlands and London.  I read somewhere that their average pace was just 2 miles per hour which seems quite quick when you consider the beasts that they were driving.

We don’t go as far as Chequers as we need to be back for the 1335 bus and it would be nice to have a coffee in the sunshine in Osmotherley before that so we turn right on to the road.

Chequers used to be an inn and was known for a plaque that was pinned to the door and read,

“Be not in haste,
Step in and taste,
Ale tomorrow,
For nothing”

Of course, tomorrow never comes so they were safe!

We make our way down Burnthouse Bank and pass a house on the right with the most wonderful grounds that has been in development for a couple of years and is fabulous by any standard. We meet Peter who is the owner and mastermind behind this beautiful garden. He’s busy with some new LED lights that he’s building into the wall and we promise ourselves a drive up here when it’s dark to see the effect.


We reach the valley bottom and the varying colours of the trees is more pronounced and accented by the reappearance of the sun. As we walk into Osmotherley we stop at Swale’s honesty box and buy a jar of honey, I’ve had several from this producer and it’s divine.

We have been going to the Queen Catherine pub of late but the outside seating is in the shade so we opt for the Golden Lion and claim some seating in full sun. Five minutes later and we’re supplied with beer and coffees, after seven miles it’s perfect and the conversation continues…

“…so my dart board needed moving so the builder took it down from the wall in the kitchen and refitted it….”

I’m looking at my walking friends now, “Errr, just stop for a minute”, I’m interested in this bit, “Can you rewind a bit. Did you say you got a builder to move your dart board?”

“Yes”, says our illustrious chum in a tone that seemed to suggest that everyone would employ the services of a highly trained tradesman with theodolites, laser measuring equipment and tripods when a dart board needed to be moved.

“Couldn’t you get your butler to do it?”, we ask and are promptly ignored.

“It needs to be a regulation distance from the oche”, says he.

There is indeed a regulation distance and if Wikipedia is to be believed it’s seven feet nine and a quarter inches – so perhaps that’s where I’ve been going wrong – I love this group 🙂



This is a great walk and it’s made better by having our OFP’s enabling free travel at both ends. It’s around 7 miles and can be made longer or shorter at several points on the way around. In the past we’ve continued to Square Corner and Oakdale which push it up to around 10 miles and also takes you through some more glorious scenery.  Enjoy the snaps.

Feel free to like and share…G..x

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