We’re equally torn between the North Yorks Moors and the Yorkshire Dales. Both are spectacular and beautiful, but the Moors tend to be softer – the stone more yellow sandstone and the roofs red pantile replacing the original thatch. At this time of year the heather is just coming into flower, turning the landscape from a dusky golden brown to a vivid purple. It doesn’t last long, but the way the landscape changes and brightens helps to reinforce the welcome these moors offer. Today was a walk around the Hole of Horcum.
A “Devil’s Punchbowl” type feature, local legend has it that the amphitheatre was formed when Wade the Giant scooped up a handful of earth to throw at his wife during an argument.
It’s easy to think that moorland walks are similar and that you spend your time striding across the tops along rugged ancient paths. Whilst some of that is true many of the walks are vary varied – moorland tops, atmospheric villages, riverside and woodland, often all of these in one walk. The Hole of Horcum-Levisham walk is just such a walk. We started at the car park [£2] at the top of the Hole of Horcum, on the A169 between Pickering and the A171 Whitby road [another great road, Top Gear take note]. We take the high road, across the moor, ending up at Levisham. You can then walk down the village, turn left just beyond the hotel, and follow the contours through the woods until you reach the valley floor, ending up in the Hole of Horcum itself. A bit of a climb back up to the car park – around three house and 6-7 miles in all.
Doing the walk this way round brings you neatly to the Horseshoe Inn at Levisham at the half-way point. When we’ve done this before [yes, on a Monday] the pub has either been closed [as it’s the winter] or under refurbishment. A lunch of emergency TicTacs is not to be recommended – there’s no shop on the way round. Today the pub was open, the sun shining and a very welcome lunch including a pint of Timothy Taylor’s Golden Best [3.5% ABV] – the weakest on hand pump. We could have had Black Sheep or the Cropton Brewery’s 50th Anniversary ale to celebrate 50 years of the National Park [4.5% ABV].
Lovely; a well-crafted and complex ale with interesting flavours. The sweet and bitter elements complement each other nicely. Drinkable, and well worth sampling if you have the opportunity.
The owners of the Horseshoe also have the Fox and Rabbit, just up on the main A169. Lovely pub, excellent crab and salmon paté and great service. They celebrate their local suppliers [Hodgson’s fish, of course] and the Ginger Pig for the pork. [obvs]. We first came across this North Yorkshire institution in London, where they very cleverly market their impeccable meat – we’re talking Marylebone High Steet and Borough Market. The Ginder Pig farm is right next door, and a beautiful building. Levisham Station is also on the route of the North Yorks Moors Railway travelling through beautiful secret scenery and home to the Hogwarts Express.
Pub The Horseshoe Levisham – rightly picked out by Alastair Sawday’s Guide