North York Moors surprises

As someone proudly Yorkshire-born, I thought I knew the place well. Ha! More fool me. Just back from a few days in the lovely North York Moors – should that be ‘on’? – with three little gems.

Beer cake. This I found in what would make a creditable entry for smallest pub in the world. Birch Hall Inn, at Beck Hole near Goathland, is a slip of a room with three tables, fading wallpaper and a serving hatch for a bar. As well as serving its own-brewed beer, it has a short menu of doorstep sandwiches, scones and beer cake; the latter made by soaking fruit in the afore-mentioned beer. Yummy. Do take time to pop into the next-door shop (the other side of the hatch) for a bag of old-fashioned sweets such as midget gems and liquorice sticks. More yum!

Bridestones. These sound rather charming but the reality was rather different… Emerging from a path on the edge of Dalby Forest, near Thornton-le-Dale, for a moment I thought I’d walked onto a sci-fi film set. A series of towering, toadstool-shaped rocks stood in eerie silence around the rim of a shallow valley. The eeriness was compounded by the fact I couldn’t see another soul. The rocks seemed to possess a power, as though lined up for a ritual. In truth, they are just fantastically weathered sandstone. But the atmosphere around them was extraordinary.

Bridestones 1

Chimney Bank. I knew this twisty road up out of Rosedale Abbey was steep – 1-in-3 – but I didn’t know it was something of a cycling challenge; the record is just over five minutes for the half-mile from bottom to top. Even with a trusty four wheels, and doing nothing more taxing than changing gear, I was puffed when I reached the summit. But the views are glorious!

Rosedale from Chimney Bank 1

I learned the cycling facts from Kate Jones and Stephen Gilles, traditional glassmakers whose studio in Rosedale, Gillies Jones looks out onto the moors. As someone once said of their signature bowls: I want one in every colour.



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