Places to Visit in North Yorkshire
phill@philljamesbroadcasting.co.uk
phill@todoinyork.com

Hole of Horcum Circular Walk

Visit York and North Yorkshire through Video

   

This video is pertaining to the Hole of Horcum Circular Walk where we discover the wonderful scenery situated in the North York Moors National Park.

Useful Links for the Hole of Horcum Circular Walk

North York Moors National Park

Coastliner Bus 840

North Yorkshire Moors Railway

Where is the Hole of Horcum?

Hole of Horcum Circular Walk Video

As you can probably tell from my enthusiasm, I am extremely excited to be here because it contains some fantastic scenery as well as having some interesting features along this route.

Hole of Horcum Circular Walk
Hole of Horcum Circular Walk

There is this strange and not very believable legend that Wade the giant scooped up some of the earth and threw it at his better half during an argument, hence creating the Hole of Horcum. It’s uncertain what this argument was about but it was probably about not putting the cap back on the giant tube of toothpaste. More accurately, it is in fact a water sculpture of sorts in the sense of water sapping where the water has eroded some of the materials pushing up what’s left.

The Hole of Horcum kind of resides on the Tabular Hills and we had reference to this in the Scarborough’s Forgotten Shores video diary when we encountered a signpost for it. There is a walk from Scarborough to Black Hambleton over this stretch of hills.

The strangest thing is that every time I come here to take video, there is practically a cyclone and I have to stick my cap down with Loctite to prevent it from blowing off. As you might recall, my lightweight tripod for walking is not the best in really windy weather either. One of the things I do like when it’s windy is the shadows the moving clouds cast on the scenery below.

One piece of advice I will give you is when you look down the Hole of Horcum, focus on the scenery and not on how far you have to walk because it looks worse than it is. The fact is, this walk is worth every footstep and its the most scenic place to be. We have moorland, a derelict farm, lush green valleys, stunning woodland, the trickling Levisham Beck, ponds, heathers, grazing sheep as well as an Iron-age dike.

Iron Age Dikes Levisham Moor
Iron Age Dikes Levisham Moor

The best part of the viewing area of the Hole of Horcum is the stunning sensation of space that you receive. If you live in a town, city or even a village like I do, they tend to be cramped, squashed and hemmed in. Here, it is completely the reverse.

As I’m visiting in September, there are many berries out ready for the birds to eat. I think birds have it lucky because they can just grab berries off a bush and they are completely fresh. When we purchase berries they have been passed from pillar to post before they get to the supermarket and sometimes they are even frozen.

I’ve only carried out this walk in the spring and summer so how walkable this is in winter I couldn’t tell you. However, there are some good stable paths so unless it is heavy snow, it should be ok.

Path Down hill to the Hole of Horcum
Path Down hill to the Hole of Horcum

We need to follow the path around the very tip of the Hole of Horcum until we reach a split. One part of the path goes across Levisham Moor and the path we want is the path down into the very cauldron. However, we return on the opposite path to complete the circuit. The path we take downwards will take you to Levisham village, but we leave the path prior to this.

We walk between what’s called the Devil’s Elbow and the Hole of Horcum. It is called such because of its shape and its a nightmare to drive up. You also see RAF Fylingdales in the distance and of course there used to be a public house called Saltergate Inn which has now been demolished. Not enough smugglers passing apparently.

In the Cauldron of the Hole of Horcum

Hole of Horcum Circular Walk

So heading through the gate, we can now descend down hill either on our feet or on our chest. This is a long hill down but its not so steep that it is unbearable. There’s only been one occasion when I went down hill on my chest like a 6ft penguin and its wasn’t this one. It was the 199 steps at Whitby.

I was surprised today, because normally when I do this walk, there is not many other people about. Today, however, there were quite a few walkers. It is normally the walk along Levisham Moor we encounter later where there are more people. Hopefully, they’re using Loctite as well.

From this vantage point, you can certainly see the differing terrains that this walk takes you. The scenery changes more than once as you walk along. One moment its moorland, the next its a valley of grazing sheep, woodland and then back to a large stretch of Moorland along Levisham Moor.

It is best doing this walk clockwise otherwise you’ll have to walk up the hill at the Hole of Horcum. I once did this and it almost finished with a defibrillator. Wade the Giant has a lot to answer for.

I found that some of the heathers were still in bloom but nowhere near as nice as they were the last time I was here. They tend to come out later July and August. Ling heather is really hardy and probably one of the few shrubs that could exist here.

I’ve never seen any adders within the Hole of Horcum but I have on Levisham Moor. Ticks on the other hand will be prevalent so if you have a dog don’t allow them to brush against anything. Our dog Alfie has a collar to protect him from Ticks as well as Frontline for flees. I probably should be wearing it myself, except my aftershave possibly more than makes up for it.

Looking down towards the valley is stunning at this point, but there is hardly anywhere along this walk that isn’t. The path dips down slightly before you reach Low Horcum Farm.

Coming here at Sunset and sunrise is a must for landscape photographers as you can capture this stunning scenery in some equally stunning light. The sun sets close to the direction you are facing and when I’ve travelled along the main road towards Pickering the skies have been fantastic.

By way of reminder, look behind you. No not now, when you’re here. It is good practice to pear over your shoulder or stop and look behind you because there is so much you can miss if you don’t.

As I mentioned, the paths are in good order and they are maintained by the National Park Authority. It’s a good idea to always stick to these including your dog if you have one. If you are a knight wearing a suit of armour, ignore me. Later on near Dundale Pond I witnesses a group of people sat on the moorland eating their lunch. Not a good idea when there are possible adders about. In this country, we don’t have to worry about harmful creatures so much, which is why I kind of give viewers reminders so often when on the moors. If I didn’t warn you and you got bitten I’d never forgive myself.

Low Horcum Farm the Wildlife Habitat

Hole of Horcum Circular Walk

You’ll eventually come to a gate but you literally don’t have to go through it as there is a hidden style to the left of it. There is a short ascent here but nothing a good pair of legs cannot manage.

Low Horcum Farm and Wildlife Habitat
Low Horcum Farm and Wildlife Habitat

The best time to do this walk is in August as the moorland is more colourful owing to blooming Heathers. In winter, the heathers are burned in controlled condition and on a rotational basis. It is why you might see columns of smoke emanating from the moorland in winter time. The pete is wet so it is less likely for fires to lose control. Obviously you should never use disposable barbecues on the moorland.

There were one of two planes heading around he Hole of Horcum leaving white cloudy scars in the sky above. At one point there was a complete figure of 6 which was a little concerning as it was over the Devil’s Elbow.

A retired couple asked me if you could walk around the Hole of Horcum and I replied yes and gave them advice and directions. I forgot to tell them it was five miles long but they must have found there way back to the car park at Saltergate because I never saw them again. They could still be there, cursing the ground I walked on.

As you walk uphill from the gate you will begin to see the roof top of Low Horcum farm. The farm hasn’t been lived in since the sixties and I’m not sure if it ever had electricity, gas or even indoor plumbing. It is not an eyesore by any means, in fact there are lots of sheep grazing around it today which adds to its charisma.

Of course, after heavy rain you can expect to find some muddy puddles, but these are seldom. Just as well really.

In any case, it doesn’t matter if there isn’t any gas and electricity today because Owls and bats don’t need it. You see, this old farm is now an adapted wildlife habitat. At the rear of the farm you can see holes in the wall which serve as ventilation. The windows at the front of the building have been replaced to ventilate and to protect the species living there. It is also surrounded by this fantastic dry stone wall and I’m assuming that this was here when it was a working farm. There’s very little in the way of outbuildings, possibly because they have either been demolished or because of mainly dealing with livestock. Farms on the moors tend to deal in livestock as the terrain isn’t always the best for crops.

A Lush Green Valley

Hole of Horcum Circular Walk

Where you might become unstuck is just after the valley where there is a split in the path. One public path goes uphill towards the wood and the other across the heath.

A View of the Valley
A View of the Valley

It is not obvious at first, but once you walk around the corner it becomes more clear. After turning around, I had the rare opportunity to capture some squiggle jet trails just above the Hole of Horcum and Low Horcum Farm. So I took a photo too.

The extremely narrow path takes you through the valley of which scenery is beyond compare. The path kind of reminds me of one of those old etchasketch devices you used to get, and you line would never come out exactly straight.

I came across this big red bucket and I thought it must be sheep food, but I never expected it to be a big brown mush. This looked like a basin mix away from a culinary disaster. Speaking from experience.

More than likely enhanced by the fantastic sunny weather today, the views across the valley were really stunning. It reminds you of how lucky you are to live in North Yorkshire and how we are blessed with stunning countryside, postcard villages and amazing shorelines.

It’s hard to make out at this point, but looking at the very foot of the valley, you will find Levisham Beck. Depending on rainfall, the volume of water varies and today it is quite low. In fact, this becomes more apparent later.

This is a great time to look behind you because you can see the contrasting moorland against the lush green grass. You can also see the path running parallel with the beck.

You will eventually see another path and gate but we ignore these and keep following the narrow path further beside the wood. For me, the section between the Hole of Horcum and all the way back up to Dundale Pond is the best part of this walk. Some may consider walking across Levisham Moor a little sparse, yet it has some interesting features as we see later.

Into the Woods

Hole of Horcum Circular Walk

Obviously this boarded path is to make things safer for the everyday pedestrian yet when wet wood can be slippy. However, the mud underneath is even more slippy and more of a hazard. I’ve found that mud moves underneath your shoe, whereas its your shoe that moves on wet surfaces, so in my opinion, mud is a lot worse than a wet surface.

By now you might get a better view of Levisham Beck below you that is heading the way of Pickering after merging with Pickering Beck. This natural spring water tends to be quite clear and a good example of it is found in Thornton le Dale. Of course, Levisham Beck begins its journey at the Hole of Horcum.

Again, you receive some extraordinary views down the valley you’ve walked upon so if you have a camera or camera phone on you, well, its needless to say isn’t it.

Actually, we don’t go to Skelton Tower, although we could have done. Skelton Tower is in the direction of straight on at Dundale Pond, and it makes the walk around 7 miles long. We visit Skelton Tower earlier this year in the Levisham Moor video. I had intended to include it today, but I was running out of time!

Up the Hill to Dundale

Hole of Horcum Circular Walk

Empty or not, we now need to climb gradually up hill to Dundale Pond following the sign post. The climb is manageable, and certainly more manageable than the climb back up at the Hole of Horcum.

Dundale Pond Levisham Moor
Dundale Pond Levisham Moor

You’re probably thinking that I’m always talking about adders. You’re right I am. Still, this path is also scenic all the way up to Dundale Pond. I later encountered a dragonfly which comes as no surprise exactly because of Dundale Pond which is a natural habitat for such. I say exactly because I saw it quite some distance away from Dundale Pond. In fact, it was hovering behind my back for a short time.

You meet with this rugged tree lined public footpath and its great not having to walk on cement or tarmac for a change. If we saw a path like this down our street we’d probably laugh, but I favour these. Well, in summer at least.

The ravine is quite deep but not so deep for anyone to get down, including the sheep. It’s a good thing to look out for red squirrel on the moors as they can be seen for time to time. Did I mention adders?

When you reach the top of the hill it brings you out into a grassy moorland with sheep sprinkled upon it. However, I warn you about having dogs on a lead often, and here’s why.

Sheep and dogs are like water and oil, they don’t work together. Well, except for the English National Sheepdog Trials. They tend to be very wary of people too so its often a good idea to give them plenty of space. However, if you see one stuck on their back, help them up because otherwise they could lose their life.

In the distance you soon see a junction with a signpost. Heading straight on takes you to Levisham Station and Skelton Tower, and turning right takes us back to Saltergate Car Park. The opposite direction takes you to Levisham village.

As I mentioned, Dundale Pond is also one of natures habitats especially when it comes to Dragonfly. The last time I was here, there was lots of Highland Cattle about but they don’t appear to be here today.

There is also another pond further towards Saltergate but it is much smaller known as Seavy Pond. In any case, we are going to head back across scenic moorland, even more scenic when the heathers are in bloom.

A Stroll Across the Moor

Hole of Horcum Circular Walk

So you walk uphill but its not as bad as he opposite direction to Levisham, and from this point you can look down on the pond and signpost we passed.

I’ve seen the occasional cyclist from time to time along this stretch, but I’m not sure if its great territory for it. But don’t knock anything until you’ve tried it. There is a cycle route from Saltergate to Bridlestones which I hope to cover on foot next year if possible.

At this point, just like the last time I filmed here, the strong winds were taking my tripod for a low cost flight. In the distance you will see Saltergate Car Park and the Devil’s Elbow as well as the Devil’s Punchbowl, a local name for the Hole of Horcum.

If you want to see the documentaries of both the Hole of Horcum as well as Levisham Moor and Goathland Village, they are under The Yorkshire Reporter playlist on this channel.

I wasn’t really sure if this particular sheep was chewing grass or gum, but either way lets hope he doesn’t stick it under the bus seat.

If you want to know if there are any sections of this walk where there are no sheep, well the answer is, there isn’t anywhere. Under the Duchy of Lancaster there is a common right that allows sheep to graze anywhere on the moors including the villages such as Goathland.

It may seem that you are moving away from the Hole of Horcum and Saltergate Car Park but trust me, it’s the right direction. There are buses that run, 4 each direction from Leeds to Whitby operated by Coastliner and is the most scenic bus route in the country.

Probably the most precarious substance known to man is sheep muck. It can be very slippy you could wax floors with it. So please be careful when walking on the moors.

The possible reason why it is so windy up here is because we are elevated and plus it is very open. I live in the Vale of York in an area that there is nothing to block strong winds, and the moors appear to be similar. I’ve found inside the bowl of the hole of Horcum it isn’t as bad, but on Levisham Moor it is harder to deal with, from a lightweight tripod point of view.

Still, this elevated view allows your eyes to gaze across the moorland and rural farm land for miles upon miles. Some of the paths are grassy and well maintained, which is fantastic news for your feet.

Speaking from experience, this seems to be the busiest part of the walk, and I suspect it is because people park at Saltergate Car Park and don’t want go down then back up the path at the Hole of Horcum. The path across Levisham Moor is much flatter, and as mentioned, windier. It could possibly be because people want to visit Skelton Tower or even walk to Levisham Station to pick up a steam train.

Views over Hole of Horcum and Low Horcum Farm
Views over Hole of Horcum and Low Horcum Farm

We saw Levisham Beck earlier and mentions that it begins at the Hole of Horcum. Well, you see kind of gullies alongside the Hole of Horcum where the water has carved into the sides to form the beck. The water obviously comes from the moorland above and drains off into the beck below.

In the summer time, birds often nest on the ground and therefore is another reason why dogs should be on a lead, and also why there are no controlled fires. If you enjoy birdwatching or wildlife in general, the North York Moors are adorned with all kinds of creatures. I once saw a green woodpecker outside Beck Hole last year, my first time seeing one.

Back to Saltergate and the Hole of Horcum

Hole of Horcum Circular Walk

The good news is that the Hole of Horcum is around half a mile wide, so you know that your walk is almost over. You also again receive some additional views looking down the Hole of Horcum and across the valley that we walk upon. There’s not many walks where you can say this, but you receive a good view of how far you’ve walked as you are elevated above it.


Further Series Pertaining to North Yorkshire

The North Yorkshire Reporter

My North Yorkshire Walks Video Diaries

North Yorkshire Photography Workshop (Phovlography)

Britain’s Most Scenic Bus Route