The Guardian newspaper teamed up with the ramblers association to produce a list of twenty great country walks . High Grange is a car ride away from two on the list, a coastal hike covering Whitby, Robin Hoods bay and Ravenscar (a fascinating place I promise) and a hike around Brimham Rocks.
This summer we tackled Brimham rocks and had a lovely day. The full article is reproduced below or can be found in its original form here.
By Kevin Rushby
Length 9.3 miles/15km
Duration 4 hours 45 minutes
Start/end Nidd Bridge, Pateley Bridge
Map OS Explorer 298
Step-by-step guide and maps ramblers.org.uk/brimhamrocks
When some 17th-century armchair sourpuss declared British weather a horror, Charles II is said to have rounded on him: “There is no country in Europe where a man can be out of doors with pleasure so many hours in a day, or so many days in a year.”
In Pateley Bridge long-stay car park I’m reflecting on these words and wondering how long before the wind chucks a tree down on my car – which would be no great loss, but I’d rather not be in it. Snow flurries roll in from the west. There are just a few hours daylight left.
We get going, clasping our route printout and a map, which the wind has already torn. I have always been wary of other people’s walking routes, but this one is from the Ramblers and I am hopeful. They are, after all, the organisation that pioneered our access to millions of acres of grouse and pheasant farms, or the British countryside as it is sometimes called; they should know their way around.
We follow the Nidd downstream for a mile or so, then turn east and start plugging gently uphill, picking up and following a superb wooded ravine. There’s myself, a friend, Peter, and Wilf, the fell terrier. Wilf is not a member of the Ramblers, but like them has dedicated his life to demanding walkers’ rights. There’s always a certain frisson of excitement when you walk with a political activist, even more so with Wilf. I’m on tenterhooks when pheasants or grouse are around since he likes to catch them and teach them a lesson.
The route is starting to impress me. I’ve walked the area for years, but the deviser has winkled out a fine route up to the geological marvel that is Brimham Rocks. It looks like a pint-sized Yosemite, a place where the Easter Island gods ran amok: great bulging pierced boulders, ravines dark with debris, glorious sun-trap ledges with views over misty ridges. In summer the place has a tea kiosk and ice-cream van. It is also choked with climbers, picnickers, strollers and children screaming, “Mam, I’ve bust me ankle!” But winter is peaceful and we share the entire place with just a few other walkers. We take a ledge out of the wind and enjoy alternate blasts of sunshine and snow.
I exchange a hard-boiled egg for a square of Kendal mint cake, which I then refuse to hand over to Wilf. In protest he runs off and attacks a collie behaving as if he owns the place. I run down and try to separate them, but in the meantime my lunch has blown away. Wilf drops the collie and, rather helpfully, goes to clean up any stray food, including a square of mint cake. We spend half an hour exploring the rocks, but the light is already fading and we need to move. Directions are precise and correct as we negotiate a confusing tumble of fields and valleys, heading back westwards. We pass a place called Tenter Croft. “They used to dry leather using tenterhooks,” says Peter, “That’s where the term comes from.” I put Wilf on the lead. There is a tiny stretch of road-walking, but nothing to complain about before we pop out at the top of Pateley Bridge and inspect the various cafes and hostelries. There’s a decent pub, The Crown, and we peer through the window longingly at the hand-pulled Black Sheep ale. But hold on… is that a collie in the corner? Damn. We try the two cafes that are open, but one only accepts, “guide dogs or trainee guide dogs” and Wilf is incapable of such a little white lie. Pah! A dog with principles! We plump for Talbot House that does excellent homemade cakes, large pots of tea, and is totally cool about political terriers – it’s a B&B too if you need a bed. The walk, we agree, did not seem like 9.3 miles, which must be a sign of how good it was. It took us about four hours, though if the weather had been better we’d have lingered longer. I would happily do it again, though possibly without the activist.