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Yorkshire

The Hambleton Drove Road


This is a 15-mile long ribbon of (mostly) white limestone track that threads its way south across the bare wilderness of the North York Moors.  It’s a magnificent stretch of drovers’ road, used by the Scots on their way from Durham to York.

 

The country around is old: it is littered with prehistoric earthworks – tumuli, long barrows and dikes; and with abbeys – Rievaulx, Byland, Newburgh and Mount Grace; and more recently with limestone quarries and inns – The Chequers*, Limekiln House, Dialstone.  (The first and last of these are farms now; the second we couldn’t find.)

 

And Hambleton was “The Newmarket of the North”: near Dialstone Farm (SE 518843) was the Hambleton Race Ground, where “the king’s plate of 100 guineas is run for once a year”, according to Daniel Defoe.

 

No more: on yer bike before the weather breaks!  (Bike is probably the best way to do it, because the scenery, though magnificent, tends to stick around for a time, and there’s no refreshment once you are up there.)  Start just west of Swainby, struggle up Sneck Yate – and there you are.

 

* SE 475971.  According to Bonser, the inn sign used to bear the words:

                                Be not in haste;

                                Step in and taste

                                Good ale for nothing – tomorrow.

The peat fire inside was supposed to have burnt for 300 years.