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Danby, Ainthorpe and Little Fryup Dale
This walk offers a real taste of the North York Moors and one of its prettiest Dales and Valleys without endless trekking across moorland, which is not always much fun for your dog. There are some lovely enclosed paths where your well-behaved pooch can be off-lead for a romp as well as a couple of gentle climbs to get the blood pumping. The walk includes panoramic views of the moors, dales and heather upland giving a feeling a wide open space and freedom – that’s not found everywhere!
What else you need to know
How to get there – From the A19 York to Northallerton road or Middlesbrough take the A172 towards Stokesley – and avoiding the town centre, continue on the A173 for a short distance before turning off to follow the signs towards Kildale. Keep on the same road through Castleton, towards Danby and once in the village follow the brown sign for the North York Moors Visitor Centre. From the A171 Whitby to Middlesbrough road near its junction with the B1366 (Liverton Road), follow the sign to Danby and then from the village continue to the NYM Visitor Centre.
By public transport; Northern Rail operates trains to Danby on the Middlesbrough to Whitby ‘Esk Valley’ line http://www.eskvalleyrailway.co.uk/ – there are usually five trains per day in each direction. It is just a short walk from Danby station to join the walk in Ainthorpe village. On Sundays and Bank Holiday Mondays, Moors Bus services http://www.northyorkmoors.org.uk/moorsbus from Helmsley, Kirkbymoorside, Stokesley and Guisborough run directly to the NYM Visitor Centre.
Suggested map – OS Explorer OL 27 North York Moors Eastern area
Car park – North York Moors Visitor Centre at Danby
Start – North York Moors Visitor Centre at Danby
Length/time – 6 miles, takes around 3 hours
Terrain/difficulty – MEDIUM, mostly on green, enclosed or rugged moorland paths. There is some road walking along very quiet roads – especially at the end, but the views at the same time are extremely rewarding. There are a couple of gentle climbs and one fairly steep descent.
Dog friendliness – three stiles were encountered and no dog-waste bins were noticed. On the moorland section, dogs need to be under close control during the nesting season and if sheep are grazing.
Food and drink – the Fox and Hounds pub at Ainthorpe is dog-friendly, and there is plenty of outside seating in the gardens at the North York Moors Visitor Centre.
Public toilets – North York Moors Visitor Centre at Danby.
Other interesting info:
When people first settled in Danby Rigg about 8,000 years ago there was no moorland. The area was covered by woodland and people hunted game and fish, and gathered plants. Early farmers burned the woodland to create areas to grow crops and keep cattle, and they also used the height of the Rigg to warn of impending attack. The woodland eventually died out due to cattle grazing, creating the moorland that we see today.
- From the car park at the North York Moors Visitor Centre, cross the road following the footpath sign to Ainthorpe and pass through a gate with a yellow arrow and a fish symbol (Esk Valley walk). Head along the grassy path towards the trees ahead, then follow the yellow arrow and fish symbol past a statue of an ‘old man’ over a footbridge towards another gate. Continue on the path at the edge of a field as it bears slightly right and uphill towards the railway – the ‘Esk Valley’ line. After obeying the warning signs, cross the line and continue ahead along the wide, grassy path. At the corner of the field, pass through a gate and turn right along a quiet road, following the footpath sign to Ainthorpe.
- Just after the road bends, follow a green and white public footpath sign on the left. Cross a small wooden footbridge and pass through a gate. The path is obvious as it heads along the edge of a field next to a hawthorn hedge. The views are lovely now and at the time of our visit, the purple heather was just starting to come through – and Izzy was off the lead here. Follow the path as it turns to the right and follow the yellow way-marker ahead on an old stile, keeping the hawthorn hedge to the left.
- Continue ahead at the next way-marked stile – most dogs will be able to slip through it, and keep a stone wall to the right. Cross another stile – some dogs will appreciate a helping hand over this one and head along the enclosed path next to a dry-stone wall on the left. At the next stile – again some dogs will need a hand here, cross over and turn right on to a stony enclosed track towards the village of Ainthorpe.
- At the road, turn left uphill past the dog-friendly Fox and Hounds Inn. Stay on the road as it leaves the village, but where it bears left follow the bridleway sign on the right pointing towards a path through a large way-marked gate on the edge of the moor. The path continues across Ainthorpe Rigg – and is rugged in parts but does offer beautiful views of the surrounding countryside. There may be sheep or ground-nesting birds around, so be prepared to put your dog on the lead. The path climbs steadily and is easy to follow – as it passes occasional blue way-markers and tall stones, which act as guides when the weather is not so good. At a junction of paths keep straight ahead before dropping down into Little Fryup Dale. Before doing so, don’t forget to take a breather to enjoy the panoramic views!
- The initially rugged path descends sharply, but soon turns grassy as it heads towards a road junction by a farm. There is a pleasant green area here with a bench – perfect for a tea and buns stop! Suitably refreshed, head along the road opposite the path from the Rigg and continue downhill next to a dry-stone wall on the left. After passing through a gate next to a cattle grid, look for a green and white public bridleway sign on the right pointing down a track to the left. Head down the track, following the sign for Stonebeck Gate Farm and Forester’s Lodge. Visible on the left is Ainthorpe Rigg, and the path down from the moor. Keep on the track as it bears left towards a farm house – following the yellow way-marker. Just before reaching the farm house turn right and follow another yellow way-marker through a gate into a field.
- Bear left towards the corner of the farm buildings, then head diagonally and downhill towards a way-marked (arrow barely visible when we visited) wooden gate in a stone wall. Follow a succession of way-markers as the path heads along the edge of the field next to a wire and post fence as it bears left and downhill towards a gate and some trees. Pass through the way-marked gate, cross a footbridge over Little Fryup Beck and continue along the clear track, enclosed by walls on each side – ideal conditions for well-behaved dogs to be allowed off-lead.
- Pass through a large gate and continue on the track as it winds uphill towards a road – time for Pooch to be back on the lead. Turn right along the road (Castle Lane) and continue past Crossley Gate Farm towards the remains of Danby Castle. The views along this section are very pretty and the road is very quiet. Near the castle, turn right at the junction and continue along the road downhill towards the medieval (14th century) packhorse bridge – Duck Bridge, by a ford in the River Esk. Continue on past the bridge, heading once again for Ainthorpe but just before entering the village, turn right through a gate into a field and follow the grassy path back towards the railway line. Again, after taking heed of the warning signs, cross the railway and head back along the path towards the North York Moors Visitor Centre.