Beware Bears!

We awake to another misty morning, but again the forecast is for a stunning day. I have a bit of work to do this morning so it is not until after lunch that we prepare ourselves for a walk.

During our first visit to the George and Dragon I picked up, for a small charge, a booklet of walks and cycle routes from the pub. We have decided to follow one of these, a circular route from Hudswell to Downholme and back.

We leave Scar Close CL by the gate at the bottom of the site and turn left to follow the footpath as it goes over a stile and then stays close to the fence as it winds its way above Hudswell Bank. If it were not for the trees to our right I would feel uncomfortable walking along here, but even with my appalling head for heights this is manageable.

The path takes us past the back of the George and Dragon and the steps that lead down to the River Swale. Our route is straight ahead, and although not as well walked as the earlier path it is still easily followed and not overgrown.

As the path turns up towards the village church, there is a signpost to Downholme. It is not easy to spot and the path that crosses the beck is not immediately obvious. After crossing the dry bed of the beck the path turns to the right, following a clear route to a stile then over another beck before climbing up the other side into a field.


The path is along the bottom of the field and then climbs up to a stile. From here our route follows a permissive path starting along the edge of the field. After getting sight of Scarcote Farm we reach another stile that leads us down into a beck and up the other side into another field. We cross this field and encounter another beck before entering a field with a big dip directly in front of us.

We skirt the dip and on reaching a collapsed wall turn right to walk beside it until we see a gate in a wall ahead of us. Through this gate we turn left and follow the track until we reach a signpost that directs us across the open moorland.


The guidebook warns us that the path is barely discernable, but we should follow the direction of the signpost until we reach a track and another signpost that sends us slightly to the left.


We follow the track and this leads us besides woodland (High Spring) and then above White Scar, there are warning signs not to enter the woods because of the steep drops, around us there is still some evidence of the old lead mines.

As soon as we pass the trees we are treated to some stunning views across the valley. With the village of Marske below and Hutton’s monument prominent on the skyline.


Apparently the monument is where William Hutton was buried in 1814. He died at just thirty-five and had requested his burial on the family estate at his favourite viewpoint.


Following the way markers along the edge of the ridge we can see Downholme Parish Church below us.


At a wall there is a stile that leads us into the impressive Downholme Quarry, limestone was quarried here to produce lime and crushed stone and there are two disused limekilns on site.


Our route takes us through the quarry and then on a well-marked path down towards the Bolton Arms. Contemplating a pint, we wander down but the pub is not open yet and though still light we have reached that time of year when the evenings are drawing in. So we walk up the road and out of the village.

Our route now follows the road back to Hudswell. I call it a road because it is tarmac, but it is not much more than a single-track route across Downholme Moor. As we climb we pass another quarry on our right and plenty of warning signs that the land around here is MOD property. Since our arrival we have heard the regular sound of machine gun fire from the ranges associated with Catterick Army Garrison. Back home if the wind is blowing from Salisbury Plain we occasionally hear the sound of tanks firing, but strangely the sound of machine guns has a very different feel and is somewhat alarming.

Further along the road we spy a herd of bears ahead that seem to be keeping close to the road. This is one of those occasions where there is no alternative other than walking on with the hope that they are uninterested in dogs. Thankfully this turns out to be the case. However one young bear goes to great lengths to warn us of the danger they potentially present.


Heading on with the light fading rapidly we get sight of Hudswell. Dusk is falling as we enter the village and we are grateful that we did not dally earlier on our route.

Our walk has been just over seven miles and has been a great insight into the history and beauty of this area. I do like the Dales.

[To follow our walk you will need Ordnance Survey Explorer Map 304 – Darlington & Richmond and Ordnance Survey Outdoor Leisure Map OL30 Yorkshire Dales North and Central Area; or even better you could buy a copy of the George and Dragon Walks and Cycle Guide]

30th September 2015

© Two Dogs and an Awning (2015)

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