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Hole of Horcum Part II Skelton Tower

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The video below is pertaining to the Hole of Horcum part II Skelton Tower. We will explore the Hole of Horcum, Levisham Moor, Skelton Tower, and catching the steam train at Levisham Station where we explore this North York Moors attraction. 

Where is the Hole of Horcum and Levisham Moor?



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Hole of Horcum North York Moors

Hole of Horcum Part II Skelton Tower

In this episode, we return to the Hole of Horcum, this time when the heather is out in bloom. In part two, we take the path across the top of the Hole of Horcum and walk along Levisham Moor and explore Skelton Tower as well as the route to Levisham Station. This is a scenic alternative to our first episode in this area.

We first start our walk across the North York Moors by following the steps to the path and turning right to walk around the perimeter of the Hole of Horcum. If you have a camera of some kind with you, then you will probably want to take some photos. As a brief reminder, there is a legend of Wade the Giant having an argument with his wife and scooping up some of the earth to throw at her, thus forming the Hole of Horcum. Legend aside, it is more accurately due to water sapping which erodes the more vulnerable materials forming a hole as it were. This occurs over thousands of years and still occurring today. 

The best time of year is July to August when the heathers are out in bloom, forming a purple splash of colour over the moors. You will receive a huge sensation of space stood above the Hole of Horcum which can be somewhat awe inspiring. From the tip of the Hole of Horcum looking down the valley is sometimes the best place to take a photo, but it is all equally stunning. It is also a good area to use the panoramic feature on your camera or smartphone if it has one.

As you walk around the tip of the Hole of Horcum you will notice a path down into the basin on your left, and we took this in part one of our Hole of Horcum episodes, but today we are going to follow the path straight on instead across Levisham Moor. However, there is nothing to stop you from following the circuit through the Hole of Horcum and back up to Dundale Pond instead if you wanted to lengthen your walk.

Ling Heather on Levisham Moor North Yorkshire

Hole of Horcum Part II Skelton Tower

Walking over the moorland however, takes you through some heather laced scenery. When in bloom the heathers attract bees which can make some interesting close up photography if you have a constant shutter finger such as mine. It grows between 20-50 cm tall so it is a low growing perennial shrub. Heather likes acidy soils and really thrives in open sunlight, so the moors is a perfect location for ling heather. So if you are growing heather in your garden, then find the sunniest spot possible. 

Another interesting point is that there are just as many sheep on the moors as there are heather, and what is interesting about it is that heather is kept down by livestock grazing. In the winter months, some of the heather is burned on a rotational basis. 

RAF Fylingdales North York Moors

Hole of Horcum Part II Skelton Tower

On your right hand side, it won’t take you too long to see RAF Fylingdales in the distance. The base serves as an early warning system for both the UK and the US, one of three. It is also part of the Allied Space Surveillance Network and can detect debris is space that can be misunderstood as a ballistic missile. 

You will also notice some stunning scenes across the moors heading out towards Goathland. We covered this path on our first visit but we are going to turn off over the moors and visit Skelton Tower and venture forwards to Levisham Station.

Levisham Estate North York Moors

Hole of Horcum Part II Skelton Tower

The Levisham Estate is under the care of the National Park Authority as part of the North York Moors National Park. And they keep the park maintained by planting trees, creating wooden damns, revegetation, gully locking, heather burning and maintaining rivers as well as paths such as this one. 

Speaking of paths however, stick to these. It was too quick for us to set up the camera but we witnessed a snake crossing the path in front of us. This snake we believe to have been an adder so please be careful. They are not around all the time but the do exist and are venomous. Keep dogs on a lead at all times and refrain from wearing shorts. 

As you progress, you will receive this feeling of immense space. The moors are extremely open. The moors is not without hills and slopes but as you are elevated here you can see for a considerable distance, making the views amazing.

One of the amazing view of course is over the Hole of Horcum, and you will see this tiny derelict farmhouse which is Low Horcum Farm. However, if you have watched the previous Hole of Horcum episode you will know that it is not that derelict at all. If you want to move into this farm house, you need to be either a bat or barn owl as it is a wildlife habitat. The building has been especially adapted with letterbox windows and ventilation holes to assist the inhabitants dwelling there. 

You oftentimes see the clouds cast shadows over the land below which makes it all the more fascinating. 

However, the path continues to take us to Dundale Pond where we encounter what could be considered a treat to the walk. All will be revealed in just a moment. Still its amazing to have this path ahead of you and overlooking a valley on the left hand side. The land is covered with these tiny creamy-white sheep almost like walking flowerhead in the grass across the valley. 

The path on this route is quite wide up to Dundale Pond, and I have also seen cyclists use the path too, although they are more than likely intended for walkers and the occasional adder. 

Iron-Age Dyke North York Moors

Hole of Horcum Part II Skelton Tower

If you watched our previous Hole of Horcum episode, you will remember the iron-age dikes on the moors. The North York Moors also has burial grounds from the bronze-age too. So the hole region has reflections of a prehistoric past. However, the moors wouldn’t be such a fantastic place to live as far as the weather is concerned, especially in winter. As mentioned, the moors are open which also means they are open to the elements too. There wasn’t a road across the moors until around 1764 and Whitby was better accessed by the sea. Therefore, we take the A169 for granted these days. The sheep don’t seem to mind however. 

The A169 can be problematic in winter with snow and thick fog at times. However, it is one of those roads that is very hard to lose sight of with the moors being so open. As the road is quite elevated at times, you can always see it on the horizon. 

As far iron-age dikes are concerned, there are a lot of theories why such dikes were constructed around the country, but it is more than likely a method of marking boundaries. You may instantly believe they were used for drainage or to prevent flooding, but there are also theories of them being cattle droveways and earthworks for defence. However, boundaries are considered to be the most likely reason for their existence. However, the information we receive at this particular dike was to mark the boundary of a fortified farmstead and formed part of the earthworks for a defensive wall around it. When you look at the width of the dike here, it is consistent to them being the earthworks to a walled farmstead. 

As mentioned, some of the heathers are burned on a rotational basis. These are done in winter because the pete is damp and also there aren’t any birds nesting on the ground at this time of year. So in winter, don’t be alarmed if you see columns of smoke bellowing into the atmosphere because these are controlled fires in care of the National Park Authority. However, during the summer it is very important not to use disposable barbecues, or any other flame and heat producing product on the moors. Fire’s can spread rapidly and it is not just the heathers and scenery that suffers, but livestock, nesting birds, grouse and even humans too. 

Dundale Pond and Junction North York Moors

Hole of Horcum Part II Skelton Tower

As we progress further with our walk through impressive moorland and purple flowering heathers, we will eventually arrive at Dundale Pond. However, don’t forget to look back every now and then as you could be missing a nice view across the moors. And not everyone is camera shy.

Photogenic sheep aside, it is at Dundale Pond where you might become unstuck when it comes to direction. Turning left takes you towards Levisham Beck, turning right will take you to Levisham Station. To get to Skelton Tower we need to follow the sign to Levisham Station initially. 

Just prior to the pond you will see a single post stuck in the ground and a short decent downhill towards the pond. When we reach the pond however, we saw something we didn’t expect to see. 

Highland Cattle on Levisham Moor North York Moors

Hole of Horcum Part II Skelton Tower

Certainly we see plenty of sheep grazing on the moorland, but we didn’t expect to see a favourite of mine, Highland Cattle. The most common tend to be a woolly orange-brown colour but in fact they come in a variety of colours including white with a black nose! Some are even brindled, or patterned. Their long-wavy horns are also a clear give away to what they are. They originated in the Highlands and Outer Hebrides, and the males weigh around 800 kilograms, 500 kilograms for the females. However, for me they are a favourite and I always enjoy seeing them so I had a pleasant surprise today. Sadly however, I just missed one bathing in Dundale Pond. The pond is a habitat for wildlife, but a fastidious beast wasn’t what I had in mind on arriving here.  

Reaching a Stone Wall on Levisham Moor North York Moors

Hole of Horcum Part II Skelton Tower

As we head right on the path to Levisham Station, at last we walk somewhere where it is not quite so open and at this point it becomes quite hilly. Do not be too alarmed at this because the walk uphill is gradual. In fact, this walk has been devised to be downhill much of the way to prevent exhaustion. 

When you reach the stone wall with a sign post, you might come unstuck here. However, at the sign post it is important to follow the route across the moor and not beside the stone wall. This is the path to Skelton Tower and it is relatively short and downhill. Very downhill. The path to Skelton Tower takes you across the moor and meets with a steep hill but with a manageable descent. You will see Skelton Tower in the distance as well as the valley in which the moors railway negotiates. At the other side of the valley you will see the densely forested area which is extremely scenic. Skelton Tower overlooks Newtondale and you also receive views over Goathland Moor looking northwards. This is what makes a diversional walk to Skelton Tower a must simply for the views if not the tower itself.

Skelton Tower, Levisham North York Moors

Hole of Horcum Part II Skelton Tower

The tower was built by Robert Skelton who was the vicar of Levisham, constructed around 1830. Interestingly, Robert Skelton used the tower for many purposes including sermon writing, having a quiet drink and also entertaining the ladies here. And I am wondering if he baptised highland cattle in Dundale Pond. Of course, the tower is somewhat weathered over time and not all of the structure is still standing. However, the two-storey tower overlooks the grassy headland of Corn Hill Point as well as Newtondale. So no doubt, he constructed the tower at this location owing to the fantastic views. In fact, there were walkers having the lunch here, so there’s an idea! don’t forget to look over the valley for the North York Moors Railway. You might even see a steam train approaching.

Direction to Levisham Station North York Moors

Hole of Horcum Part II Skelton Tower

If you have left your car at Saltergate there is very little choice but to head up the hill you have just descended. Alternatively, to reach Levisham Station you want to follow the path southwards along the edge of the valley until you come to a wooden fence that protrudes out from the valley side pointing across the moor. At this point we follow the path across the moor with the steep hill on the left of us. It is a good idea to take a look at the hills behind you as they are quite stunning to look at. 

This path takes us to a narrow road. The left of the narrow road ascends uphill, but fortunately we take the road right and gently walk downhill towards Levisham Station that is not far. As you are walking downwards, it is highly recommended to take a brief look behind you as the scenery is breathtaking. 

The road however bends to the right and you will see the caution sign for the forthcoming humps. It is a good view of the valley here especially as it is dense woodland. You will then notice Grove House Holiday Cottages on the left. 

Levisham Station, North Yorkshire Moors Railway North York Moors

Hole of Horcum Part II Skelton Tower

You will notice the two platformed Levisham Station and level crossing over the railway. The station is set on the 1912 theme, and you will see the rolling stock beside the station buildings. At Levisham you can board a train southbound for Pickering, northbound for Newtondale Halt, Goathland which was used as Hogsmede in the Harry Potter films, Grosmont and Whitby. You can also change for the Esk Valley Line at Whitby and Grosmont. The station has an award winning lamp room which is the wooden maroon and cream building in shot. 

Perfect timing as we have reached Levisham Station just in time to board our train today. The locomotive is a Southern Region Class V Schools loco named and numbered 906 Repton and was built in Eastleigh around 1934. 

We have enjoyed our walk today and we hope you will too. Until next time!

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