Yorkshire Wolds walk - Thixendale to Hanging Grimston

Open Dale

Open Dale - Credit: Archant

This route from Thixendale to Hanging Grimston is often missed by local hikers, but it covers a number of glorious dales. Warning: there’s a one in six climb, but the views make it all worthwhile.

The vale of York through Deep Dale

The vale of York through Deep Dale - Credit: Archant

Start in Thixendale, and head for North Thixen Dale at the top of the village. This route will soon leave the Yorkshire Wolds Way, and you won’t come back on it until the return. Soon after the pig farm and the last house, you’ll drop down to a gate on the left. This is where Water Dale and Thixen Dale meet; angle to the left to join Chalklands Way. It is then a steady climb through two gates, and after nearly a mile, there is a gate on the right which you take into Milham Dale.

Climb for half a mile to another gate, turn left onto a wide track and follow this to the main road. This is an old Roman road, of which there are many in the Wolds. Now, looking ahead, you will have a great panoramic view of the Vale of York. Turn left, and look out for a sign which will be on the left-hand side, a little less than half a mile after the turn. The field has a new fence, but there is an access gap left by the farmer because this is a public path.

Follow the field down to the bottom, with the hedge on your right. Soon Ray Dale and Open Dale will come into view. This is where you are heading. At the bottom of the field there is a stile – ignore it, and follow the little arrow marker to the left. Look out for a yellow arrow which denotes a public footpath, and a white arrow which denotes a permitted footpath. Go through a gate and continue down, with a hit-and-miss line of trees on your left. You are now in Ray Dale.

Go through the gate; looking down, you should see a white house at the bottom with a gate a little way to the left of it. Turn left here along the top of the field and continue down to the gate. Go through the gate, and follow a wide path which will wind down for about 250 yards. The path carries on to the left, but look to the right and you will see a yellow arrow on a post. This is the track you take; the track is hardly noticeable, but keep straight until you come to a gate with two arrows. Ignore the one to the right and keep ahead, then drop down to your left to a double and single gate where Open Dale Beck runs past.

North Thixendale - the start of this walk exploring lesser-known known dales in the Wolds

North Thixendale - the start of this walk exploring lesser-known known dales in the Wolds - Credit: Archant

The single gate will have a boarded timber fence round it, but no arrow. Go through the gate. Keep to the bottom of the field, and just a few yards ahead there will be a white arrow on a gatepost pointing onto the permitted footpath. Follow this until it brings you out into Open Dale and lake. Follow the permitted path, keeping the lake on the left. Look well ahead, and high over to the left, you should see a single gate close to the woods. That is where you are heading.

It is a short stiff climb, and then you will go through another single gate and turn left. Follow the track with the hedge to your left, which ends at the tarmac farm road. Turn right, and prepare yourself for a one in six climb that is nearly ¾ of a mile long. It is a narrow road with very little traffic, and there is a nice view to the left out over the Vale of York.

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At the top, there is a sign post and the road turns right; ignore the right turn, and instead climb the stile. Continue straight ahead and soon Deep Dale will come into view on the left. After 500 yards there is a sign offering the option to go either left or stay on top of the dale. You’ll then drop down into Hanging Grimston Wold (a name to remember!) where Gilder Beck starts from a spring.

At the bottom, turn right and embark on a steady but lovely climb back out. As you near the top, look back and between the dale walls you will have a great view of the Vale of York. At the top, angle slightly to your right and head for the gate in the corner of the field. Go through the gate, and then go through another on the other side of the road that will take you into Brownmoor Dale.

A road through Water Dale

A road through Water Dale - Credit: Archant

After a short walk, drop down to the left and go through a gate. Now, you’re in the dale and on an easy walk down. Look for Brown Moor Farm up high on your left, and after around 3/4 of a mile, look to your left again where you will see a gate. This has a chain, but it does unhook.

Now, Birdall Dale will be to your left and Water Dale will be to your right. Turn right onto a lovely dale, spoilt only by the tarmac road running through it. It is a high-sided dale, often with Highland cattle grazing in it. Then walk for around two miles back to Thixendale and The Cross Keys for a well-earned drink!

Compass Points:

Brownmoor Dale

Brownmoor Dale - Credit: Archant

Start/Finish: OS grid reference 84-61

Distance: 8.6 miles/13.8km

Ascent: 343m/1,125ft

Terrain: Moderate

The drop down into Deepdale

The drop down into Deepdale - Credit: Archant

Time: 4 hours

Parking: On the roadside outside the church in Thixendale

Refreshment: The Cross Keys, Thixendale

Map: OS Explorer Map 300

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