The Ingleby Incline and Round Hill

From Ingleby Greenhow 9 miles (14.5km)

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This walk starts at the peaceful village of Ingleby Greenhow and involves a steep climb to the highest point of the North York Moors. The variety of terrain and scenery is excellent, and the views are exceptional.

Ingleby Greenhow is situated at the foot of a dramatic valley, sheltered by the steep Cleveland escarpment. It is recorded in the Domesday Book as 'Engleby', meaning 'village of the English', and Greenhow, which means ‘the green hill’, was added later to distinguish it from two other Inglebys in the district. The manor was held by Malgrin and Siward Barn, the King’s Thegns. It was later granted to Guy de Balliol, along with Battersby and the barony of Stokesley, by William II.

The Church of St Andrew was founded in the twelfth century. Despite substantial restoration in 1741 and 1905, many of the original features have survived. The chancel arch, nave arcade and lower parts of the tower all display traces from the Norman era. The capitals of the pillars in the nave are ornamented by curious carvings depicting animals, sea monsters and grotesque heads. The tower has a peal of two bells that were cast in the fourteenth century and are still rung for church services.

Our walk begins with a stroll through the meadows to the hamlet of Bank Foot. Here we join the trackbed of the old Rosedale Railway, which leads to Incline Foot, where we climb the steep gradient of the former incline.

The Rosedale Railway was an incredible feat of engineering. It was built to link the ironstone mines in Rosedale with the main railway lines that ran from Battersby to the blast furnaces at Middlesbrough and County Durham. The line opened in 1861. It ran from Battersby to the bottom of The Ingleby Incline – Incline Foot. Empty wagons were removed and pulled to the top of the incline – Incline Top. The wagons were connected to another locomotive and continued 10½ miles (16.9km) over the moor to Rosedale. During this crossing, the railway never fell below an altitude of 1000 feet (305m).

The Ingleby Incline was a self-acting incline; it used the weight of ore-laden wagons, as they were lowered down the incline, to raise empty wagons to the moor top. It was 4290 feet (1308m) in length, rising from a lower elevation of about 600 feet (183m) to 1370 feet (418m) at the moor top. The maximum gradient reached was 1 in 5 with an average of 1 in 5.5. Workers’ cottages were built at Incline Foot and Incline Top; the latter was known as Siberia by the occupants because the weather conditions were often very severe. The last locomotive was lowered down the incline in June 1929 and the Rosedale Railway was declared closed.

From Incline Top we proceed along the old trackbed to join the Cleveland Way and then continue towards Urra Moor.

As we approach the summit of the moor we pass two interesting marker stones. First, the Face Stone, so called because it bears the crude carving of a face. This is mentioned in the 1642 perambulation of the Helmsley estate which describes it as ‘the bounder called Faceston’. Next, we come to the Hand Stone, an early eighteenth-century guidepost. Justices at the Sessions, held 2nd October 1711, issued orders for guideposts to be erected at all crossways throughout the North Riding.

Round Hill, lying 100 yards (92m) north of the footpath, is the highest point of the North York Moors at 1490 feet (454m). The trig point is sited on the Bronze Age burial mound of Botton Howe. Unfortunately, the views are a little disappointing due to the broad summit, which is bounded in all directions by bleak, windswept moorland.

Ingleby Incline
Ingleby Incline

Leaving the summit, we continue across Urra Moor and descend into Greenhow Plantation. This is the ideal habitat for the nightjar. These nocturnal birds, most active at dusk and dawn, feed on moths, beetles and other flying insects that they catch on the wing. In ancient folklore, it was believed that the nightjar sucked milk from goats’ teats, which has earned it the name’ goatsucker’. But obviously, it was the insects hovering near the animals that lured the birds. The male attracts a mate with a loud chirring song containing 1900 notes per minute.

From the wood we descend onto a quiet lane with superb views all around, including Captain Cook’s Monument and the shapely pinnacle of Roseberry Topping in the distance. Midnight Farm, to the left of the lane, supposedly got its name because it is frequently in shadow due to its position in this short, north-facing valley and is rarely bathed in sunshine.

We leave the lane at Low Farm and follow a good path through the fields leading us back to Ingleby Greenhow.

After crossing the road, we continue to the ‘Tin Bridge’ at Linton Falls. The bridge’s name refers to the original bridge, which was built in 1814. It was covered with sheets of tin from old oil drums to stop the wearing away of the timber. The present bridge was built in 1989 by the Royal Engineers and is expected to last for 150 years

Leaving the river behind, we follow a narrow walled path known locally as ‘the Flags’ or ‘the Snake Walk’. The path suffered the insult of being tarmacked at some time. Fortunately, this surface is wearing away, and the original flags have started to reappear. We follow the path uphill back to the car park.

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