Sunday, 21 February 2016

Battersby Incline Along Cleveland Hills and Back To Battersby

This walk focuses on the hilly section around Battersby and makes use of the old railway incline up onto the moors. This was also a final opportunity to catch some of the last snow of the year before it all melted away.

Remarkably given the snow at the start of the walk, by the end of the day it was bright sunshine and lovely spring conditions!

With it still being winter, I'm still operating within shorter walks and this is a nice walk to start bringing me into the summer walking pattern with some hilly paths, but without too much distance to travel across the day.

Heading out from home I hadn't given much thought about snow, but as I was buying my ticket from the station I was asked if I was off to try and find some snow to which I'd replied that I hoped for snow, but doubted I would find it without doing much to think it through.

I had formerly always avoided the hills during snowy periods, but over time I have learned that the hills in the snow are not necessarily colder than usual, but they are certainty more dramatic and well worth a visit if you plan ahead with some warm clothing.

Today, after a quick train journey out I soon arrive at Battersby, formerly a busy train station, but now a very quiet and rarely used station that probably counts myself as one of its most frequent visitors.

From here I head out onto the local roads, but quickly turn down a side road and onto the old path of the trainline that heads up to Bloworth Crossing - where I can see snow visible in the distance - with some bright sunshine emerging early this morning.

This old train track features in a number of the walks featured on this site offering a very direct route up to the moors and its a very nice flat stroll along this path taking in the hills behind and enjoying the bright sunshine in front.

Before long, though the Battersby Incline looms in front with a steep climb ahead to the snowy caps up top ahead.

The Photo Really Doesn't Do the Climb Justice
At the base of the climb I pass a rare group of younger walkers on the moors, but clearly the climb ahead is not for them as they pull off to the right along the base of the ridge, avoiding the trip to the top.

Half way to the top of the climb there used to be a cluster of trees that in warmer weather would offer a welcome bit of shade, but now these trees have been cut down and where I would have been entering this wooded section, I'm instead able to look out from a previously sheltered viewpoint.

Previously Blocked View With First Signs Of Snow
The height of the climb only truly becomes visible with these photos out from the higher levels looking down onto the plain I've just climbed from below, but today I'm mostly looking ahead to see how much snow I'm going to see at the top.

Despite good indications of snow on the way up, so far the actual levels of snow cover have been relatively modest and limited to little patches of snow left remaining across the path, up which I continue to climb to the top.

Little Patches Of Snow on the Remaining Climb
It's still a relatively long climb from here up to the very top and its with much relief that I do eventually arrive. In the old days the empty carts would have been brought up here aided by the descent of the filled carts and it would be wonderful if I could have used such a rouse today, but alas I am about a hundred years to late for that.

However, on reaching the top I am lucky enough to be rewarded by a certain level of snow about, which would have made this an interesting bit of track in the old days, but while the snow is visible it certainly isn't thick enough to encourage any ideas of skiing or any snowman building for that matter. It is, however, great to catch a final sight of the snow which is soon set to depart and be replaced by the rain of spring and then the sunshine of summer.

Some Snow Coverage at the Top
Despite the relatively thin levels of snow coverage, I'm determined to make the most of it and in all honesty its very pleasant up here with the combination of both snow and warm sunshine.

There have been many days I've been out and about walking this winter where it has been bitterly cold with relatively little recompense in the way of visual display, and a combination of warm weather and snow to look at, without being affected by, looks set to make this an enjoyable days walking.

Looking out along the top, the snow has all melted away off the path with a long white strip heading out in front inviting me forwards and the snow that can be found at the top offers a great backing to some spectacular views out over the countryside below.

Not a Great Place to Sit, But a Great View Nonetheless
Up here, there are a few small groups of sheep yet they don't seem too fussed by the snow and indeed look very warm in their snug fleeces and being similarly wrapped up warm I'm in a similar state of mind myself.

It's Not Actually That Cold
After a brief period of being able to enjoy the views out, the path pulls away and begins to head off towards Bloworth Crossing along the old train track.

Before this crossing I will be pulling off to the right and will be essentially circling Battesby via the hills above, although taking a detour off to enjoy the hills further west to use up a bit of time before my train home.

Turning To Right
The snow remains visible along the path as I continue on, but it is starting to wither away under the bright sunshine that is falling on the hills this morning, but with a snowy start to the day it is likely that I'll have all this scenery to myself for much of the day.

As I drop down I pull slightly off the path to examine the level of snow melt, with the usually quite quiet streams up here now running at full flow, but as I head on the levels of sunshine starts to weaken as cloudier weather starts to pass over.

Snow Path
In the distance the levels of sunshine do remain strong, however, and as the hills I'll be walking this afternoon come into view the sunshine starts to return and for the first time today I bump into fellow walkers.

As the hills continue to come into sight and as the strength of the sunshine continues to grow with the middle of the day approaching, the snow is visibly melting with every step forwards and starts to give way entirely before disappearing entirely.

Snow Has Gone
With the excitement of the snow now entirely in the past, my focus now shifts onto the hills ahead which comprise one of my favourite stretches of the North York Moors and I'm soon presented with a drop down to the road which I will return to later in the day on my way back to Battersby.

Hills Are Now Right In Front
It's a fairly steep descent down, although I do make way for two cyclists who are carrying their bikes up this path which has to go down as a fairly impressive feat, if not a little foolish. While going down, the views open up to show the fields below and the path to the hills in the distance.

View Back To Top
View Down To Bottom
Up till this point there has only been the one incline of the day - with the short but steep climb up onto the ridge via the Battersby Incline - but from here on in I'll be following the rise and fall of the hills on the way out and although I'll come back via a flatter route, it will still involve more up and down than the path I've been following for the past few hours.

With the sun having come up and with there being a car park on the road at the end of this drop, there is more traffic about and I let a few tired looking walkers past on their way up, with some at the back of groups giving a timid smile as they push on with the tiring climb to the top.

At the bottom its a case of hoping across the road and then heading straight back up the other side back onto the top of the hill line, a fairly arduous climb that rewards me with some fabulous views back that includes much of my walking route so far today.

View Back From the Other Side
From here looking back I can see the short rise in the background that marks out the Battersby Incline and the section of path along the opposite ridge that I had until recently been following.

However, I don't pause here to look out for too long, as I'd like to get out back and round before the sun starts to set and before my train departs from Battersby at 5pm, so its best to get back on my feet and going ahead, taking the last sips of my drink as I set off.

I'm now walking along the edge of the ridge and with the path running close to the drop its a lovely view out over the fields below, although the view does also include a sight of the industrial heart of Teesside away in the distance.

Continuing on along this ridge, the route eventually drops down through the middle of the Wain Stones which involves a very modest piece of rock climbing, with my focus here always on avoiding not putting too much pressure on my ankle as I quickly clamber through the fallen rocks and drop down from one level to another.

Out on the other side, its time to start descending again and I drop down a path to the left which quickly drops me back into a valley.

Path Drops Down to the Right
This is a fairly steep and quick descent that I've once made at some pace, having been jogging and out on the grass to pass a ground of school children before sliding down a decent section before hoping back onto my feet with an agility that I found rather impressive at the time.

Today though, I'm neither moving at speed or having to let anyone by, with this stretch being relatively deserted, and it is a quick but safe trip down to the bottom where I'm able to look back at the Wain Stones and also at my next challenge ahead.

View Back to the Wain Stones
The Next Challenge Ahead
I will be turning back round after this next hill so ahead is my last major climb of the day and it is a relatively staggered route up to the top that is easy going compared to the previous climbs, but despite this the views looking back remain pretty impressive.

View Back From the Final Hill
From here, I can not only see where I have come, but to the left of the hill I can also see the straight line that marks my route back through the trees at the base of the ridge which I'm hoping will be not too muddy; although that is based more on hope that expectation given that there must have been some snow melt in this area recently.

Having completed the climb my path meanders along the edge of the ridge for a short while, allowing me to take in my last glimpses of the views on offer from these heights, before the path starts to descent down into an open valley.

Descent Into Open Valley
From here I pass through some slightly boggy fields before my path turns back on myself and into the woods via a steep and slippery descent that nearly has me slipping over and caked in mud. With that obstacle safely navigated I can head into the trees and start my journey back to the train and home.

Very quickly it becomes clear that I will not get my wish for a mud-free trip back and it takes a bit of careful navigation to make my way across some particularly muddy spots.

There Be Mud Here!
Unfortunately my shoes are not in the best condition. My system is to buy new shoes after the clock change which on the plus side means I get new shoes to walk in for the summer months, but I like loose fitting plimsoll-like trainers/runnning shoes rather than tough leathery boots and so after a heavy winter's walking, my shoes have some sizeable holes and about the same water resistance as a colander.

On the plus side this means that water that when does get in, it is quickly expelled which can be quite welcome when you end up with wet feet early in a days walking (waterproof shoes can result in some very sore feet), but in this mud I'd honestly rather keep the muddy water out.

That said, I know I'm going to take a certain amount of mud and water in, so when there is no clear way round I bite the bullet and wade on through in the knowledge that I'll be able to wash my feet and shoes in a ford towards the end of the day's walk in order to make myself respectable for my train trip home.

It turns out to be a pleasant walk back through the trees in the sunshine (despite the mud) and as I head back past the Wain Stones the sun really comes out allowing for a perfect photo opportunity.

Wain Stones in the Sunshine
By now the sunshine really is quite marvellous and it's the nicest the weather has been all year and probably since around October time, which is remarkable when you consider that the day started with some snow based photo opportunities.

Following this particularly photo opportunity there is a slight incline for the last time today and then its a nice shady route down through thicker trees that offer some shade which allows me to really make the most of the sun and many muddy puddles later I emerge back out by the road and at the end of my extended loop.

Last Time I Went Through the Gate, Now I Return to the Road
Down to the Road
At the road I turn left and then pull right onto a minor road that descends down into Ingleby Greenhow where I emerge half an hour later, pausing at the ford by the church to clean up my muddy shoes and return them to an acceptable state.

Having cleaned up I head onwards towards Battersby station where I await my train home.

Maps: If you wish to follow this walk the route can be determined using 93 . This post is designed as a narrative and not designed as route directions to be followed... always use a map and be sure of your route before you leave the house!