20 September '20
Cleveland Way: Square Corner to Sneck Yate and back
Big long walk on a grey Sunday. Sam and I originally planned to do a shorter loop walk around Arden Great Moor, through the woods below the moor to the east, and back up to Square Corner. But, feeling fresh and ambitious, we decided to tackle the whole thing in one go.
This part of the Cleveland Way isn't super rich in attractions, but it's quaint and quiet and nice in its own sort of way. The trail overall is very well-kept: along the moor it's all gravel track, meant for tractors and 4-wheel drive vehicles; while the section in Boltby Forest is a nicely-manicured gravel path. From the car park above Kepwick Quarry to High Paradise Farm, the trail's pretty popular with dog walkers, families, and offroad cyclists, but north of there, the track's pretty quiet.
We picked up the Cleveland Way at Square Corner, where you'll find a generous car park marked off from the road by big boulders. In nice weather, expect to see a good number of cars here, but when we walked (early autumn) we were one of only four or five cars there.
The walk started out with the only real climb of the hike. The trail up Hambleton End was steep in places, but opened up over beautiful views of the countryside to the north and Osmotherley in the northwest. If you're coming up the Cleveland Way from the south, you'll have a good view of how the trail drops down into the little crook of Oakdale Beck, just above Osmotherley. I always get a little nostalgic when I see big forests, so the Crabtree Bank Plantation below us got me a little teary-eyed.
By and by the climb levelled out into a sort of undulating, weaving track along Black Hambleton. Not a ton to see here: some grouse butts, a couple of old quarries, and the slope dropping off to the right. We took the opportunity to do a little running along here, to pick up the pace.
The track veered off right at the top of White Gill, dropping down into the very gentlest saddle you could possibly imagine. A nice spot for running here as well, with plenty of flat grassy verge on either side of the track. No ankle rolling on the loose quarried slag for us, no thank you.
Coming up the other side of this little saddle, we came across a couple of cars parked up by the old stone wall. This tiny car park is served by what appears to be quite a steep road coming up from Kepwick.
The road's paved and looks relatively well-used, but I'm not sure I'd trust coming up in our 2003 Renault Clio. That being said, some intrepid soul appears to have visited in a VW Golf, by the looks of the Cleveland Way street view.
The trails sort of veers off to the left for a little while before coming to a gate at the entrance to Boltby Forest. The track narrows down to a little footpath here, but you're liable to see plenty of cyclists coming up from High Paradise Farm. Not much tree cover overhead, either, so we were glad it was a cloudy day. We'd have been begging for shade otherwise.
At the south end of the trail through Boltby, we came to another gate letting out onto a field. There's an old stile next to the gate with enough room on it for a couple of people to sit together, so we decided to stop and have lunch there. There's plenty of seating at High Paradise Farm, only a kilometer or so down the road, but it was nice to eat in the quiet on our own.
High Paradise Farm
Across the field we came to a turn in the trail and an open gate welcoming us to High Paradise Farm. There were a couple of friendly goats in the enclosure by the gate, so we said hi and continued on.
High Paradise Farm is making a good business on the Cleveland Way: they've got a tearoom, a site for campers, and plenty of seating if you want to take a load off. Obviously there's a pandemic on, but they had a little kiosk outside for ordering coffee and snacks (and homemade pizza?!).
Check out the High Paradise website before heading out—they're closed all of January.
Past High Paradise, we dropped down into a bit of old-growth forest above the aptly named Low Paradise Farm. On a quiet day, the walk along here would be really lovely, but we kept having to step out of the way to let cyclists bomb past us on the inclines.
The forest let out on Sneck Yate Bank, a steep paved road coming up from Boltby and heading over the top of the moor to Hawnby. We had to walk along the road here for 200m or so, as high-revving Audis and Range Rovers came up behind us. The verges along here were quite steep as well, so we were glad to be out of the fray and up at the car park at Sneck Yate.
The car park here can be very busy, especially in nice weather or in the middle of the day. It serves as the de facto car park for High Paradise Farm, so if there's some sort of event on, expect to find the lot full. We spotted a few cars parked up on the side of the road on Sneck Yate Bank or along Cleveland Road, opposite the car park, which sort of felt like they weren't really abiding by the spirit of things. Always the most expensive cars parked up outside of the designated parking areas.
We headed through the car park and along the gravel road back towards High Paradise. Bit quiet through here but we were glad not to have to climb down and up the inclines in the wood off to the left, where we'd just came from. By and by we got back to the gate with the goat enclosure, but the goats had wandered off somewhere.
The rest of the walk was uneventful. Past the car park at the top of the Kepwick road we caught up with another walker, who was traveling at a powerful pace, and determined to pass them before we got back to Square Corner.
"This is the most motivated I've ever been about anything." -Sam
Caught up to them by the time we reached Hambleton End, and rewarded ourselves by running all the way back down. We must have looked pretty goofy, all things considered, but we got back to the car park some 10 or 15 minutes before the other walker did. So who's laughing now?
Keep in mind that we ran short sections of the trail, so your trail time might be a bit longer.
- Top of Hambleton End10:51
- Boltby Forest11:36
- High Paradise Farm12:10
- Sneck Yate cark park12:29
- Boltby Forest12:52
- Top of Hambleton End13:51
- Square Corner14:02
Total walking time: 3h 33m