THE Owl at Hawnby makes for an excellent start and certainly finish to this lovely summer walk over Hawnby and Easterside Hills.

It's not a long walk but take your time and explore this pleasant area, with its history and lovely views from the hills.

Hawnby is a small village north of Helmsley on the western edge of the North York Moors. It is hidden away on the River Rye a few miles off the busy B1257.

Before setting off on the walk head west for 400 metres and visit All Saints Church. Originally built in the 12th century it was rebuilt in the 14th century having been destroyed by the Scots. It is beautifully situated and has two bells set in an open bell turret.

Hawnby map Hawnby map (Image: Jonathan Smith)

Return to the centre of Hawnby and take to a path heading north up steep hillside. Keeping the woods to your right continue up the path as it climbs the broad shoulder of Hawnby Hill. The hill is like an upturned boat so the steep initial slopes do flatten out and soon the walking becomes easier and very enjoyable. The path passes a neat conical cairn before dropping steeply off the northern edge. The views ahead are in to the heart of moorland country, whereas to the right the bulk of Easterside Hill (slightly higher than Hawnby) is a reminder of things to come.

Splendid beauty of Hawnby and Easterside HillsSplendid beauty of Hawnby and Easterside Hills (Image: Jonathan Smith)

On arrival at a quiet road at the foot of Hawnby Hill there is a choice of paths. Don't take the obvious lane straight ahead and up hill but the lane to your right to Sportsmans Hall.

However, before arriving at the hall take the footpath to the left and after a short uphill drops down to cross Ladhill Beck over a footbridge. The large aerial to the north is Bilsdale Transmitter, over 1,000 feet high and one of the most powerful in the country.

After crossing the bridge climb east out of the valley to arrive directly north of the second hill of the day, Easterside. There are no official routes up Easterside Hill but this is Open Access land and it is definitely worth the climb. The main footpath skirts the fell on its eastern side, but leave this after you cross the northern spur of Eaterside Hill.

A faint track heads directly up the fell but it is intermittent so just strike south and uphill. Easterside is not high and after a steep climb you will soon be on the summit plateau. It is a wonderful place, full of interest and great views. It is almost a mirror image of Hawnby Hill. The trig that apparently used to sit on the summit has disappeared and aside from a cairn and a multitude of bird feeders it is completely barren.

From the cairn carry on south and as the hill starts to descend steeply join an excellent path that emerges from your left and drops down towards Hawnby. It joins the road at Easterside Farm and from here it is a pleasant walk back to Hawnby.

* Fact Box:

Distance: Roughly five miles

Height to Climb: 350m (1,150 ft)

Start: SE 542898. Park on the road near the central cross roads of Hawnby near the hotel.

Difficulty: Medium. Rolling countryside with two steep climbs but on good paths or lanes.

Refreshments: The Owl has been recently renovated in Hawnby and worth a visit.

Be Prepared: The route description and sketch map only provide a guide to the walk. You must take out and be able to read a map (O/S Explorer OL26) and in cloudy/misty conditions a compass. You must also wear the correct clothing and footwear for the outdoors. Whilst every effort is made to provide accurate information, walkers head out at their own risk.

* Jonathan is the owner of Where2walk, a walking company based in the Yorkshire Dales. He has written three books on walking in the Dales; ‘The Yorkshire 3 Peaks’, ‘The Dales 30’ mountains and the ‘Walks without Stiles’ book. All these books (and more) are available direct from the Where2walk website.

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