Dark Skies Festival Walks
Encounter the Magnificence of the Dark Skies on the North York Moors
With outstanding panoramic views across areas of ancient woodland, star clustered dark skies, splendid primeval abbeys and an abundance of wildlife makes for a breath-taking experience of seclusion and peacefulness.
For when the winter sun goes down and the darkness is upon us we feel compelled to retreat within the safety of our homes; closing out the nocturnal countryside instead of embracing in its enchantment. And yet, for the select few willing to break the taboo, the dark skies are a magical world.
When the moon is full, this secret landscape glows with an eerie sense of the eternal. It’s like walking into your dreams. Ridges and hilltops make good night walking, the open sky sparkling above. A shimmering moonrise over sea or lake startles with its sombre beauty. Spend your time slowly and silently. You’ll return blinking in the light, feeling like new, for it is truly amazing what can be seen in the dark.
All the walks start and finish at a highly recommended local hostelry or very close to one.
Please feel free to participate in as many walking events as you wish, each one explores a different section of the North York Moors National Park.
We will point out the main constellations, and the basics of celestial navigation.
Meet new friends as you walk and talk, relishing this new walking experience.
All the walks are led by experienced mountain leaders who take care of navigation so just enjoy the moment.
Continue the chat and join us for a sociable drink to round of the evening.
Dark Skies - Walking in Heartbeat Country
Sunday 20th February | Friday 4th March 2022
Surrounded by high moors and interlaced with cascading streams and waterfalls, Heartbeat Country is a walker’s paradise. You will experience the Mallyan Spout Waterfall, which at over 60 feet, is the tallest waterfall on the North York Moors.
Situated on the popular North York Moors railway line with its magnificent steam engines Goathland station was also used by Warner Brothers as the setting for Hogsmeade Station in Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone. For over 18 years this moors gem was known to millions has Aidensfield, and makes for one of the most intriguing walking locations within the National Park.
Robin Hoods Bay – A Smugglers Paradise
Friday 18th February | Sunday 6th March
This coastal walk starts and finishes in Robin Hoods Bay the busiest smuggling community on the Yorkshire coastline during the 18th century. With countless tales of thieves, rogues and smugglers, this makes for one of the most intriguing walking locations within the National Park.
For this walk we follow the old railway line towards Whitby before heading back to the Bay along the Cleveland Way, with thunderous waves below and amazing dark skies above, experience this beautiful section of the Yorkshire Heritage Coastline.
Sutton Bank – White Horse Circuit
Saturday 19th February 2022
Once described by James Herriot as the finest view in England, what better place to start your dark skies adventure. Heading off across Roulston Scar, where ancient tribes dating back to 400BC roamed this impressive plateau. From the plateau we descend down to the famous White Horse of Kilburn, before heading back up to the top and across to White Mare crag where Sir Harry De Scriven met his fate one stormy night.
The Cistercian Walk – A circular walk from Helmsley to Rievaulx Abbey and back to Helmsley
Friday 25th February 2022
This is a 7 mile circular walk linking ancient monuments set within the beautiful North York Moors. Starting in the charming Yorkshire market town of Helmsley we head off through the grounds of Duncombe Park before picking up the Cleveland Way and heading off towards Rievaulx Abbey, dating back to 1131became the largest and richest Cistercian Abbey in England. We then head back via the Cleveland Way and return to Helmsley.
Hole of Horcum – Levisham circular walk
Saturday 26th February | Saturday 5th March 2022
The Hole of Horcum also known as the Devil’s Punchbowl is a spectacular natural amphitheatre scooped out of Levisham Moor. Legend says that the hole was formed when the giant Wade grabbed a handful of earth to throw at his wife Bell.
Reality suggests however that it was created over millennia by glacial meltwater. The path around the hole is on an earthwork dyke, which denotes a prehistoric boundary.
This is an 6 mile (10km) 3.5 hour circular walk that combines the Hole of Horcum/Levisham circular walk. For this walk we meet at the Hole of Horcum carpark situated on the A169.
Hutton le Hole - Ana Cross – Lastingham circular walk
Sunday 27th February
Hutton le Hole is one of North Yorkshire’s most charming and most visited villages. Stone houses dotted around a village green where sheep graze freely.
Ana Cross or Ainhowe Cross (according to local lore) is a prominent landmark on Spaunton Moor. Made of local sandstone her name refers to the name of the original Anglo-Saxon cross, the head of which lies in the 11th century crypt of St Mary’s church in the nearby village of Lastingham. The original cross was more than 23 feet high, making it the largest known pre-Norman monument in England.
A 7.5 mile (12km) walk of 3-4 hour duration starting from the carpark just on the outskirts of the village on the Lastingham Road.
This walk takes an outward route from Hutton-Le-Hole across Spaunton Moor to Rosedale Chimney Bank Top with absolutely stunning views across Rosedale.
All walks meet up at 4:30pm for a 5pm start
Goathland Walks – we will meet in the car park at the Inn on the Moor YO22 5LZ.
Helmsley – Rievaulx Walks – meet outside the Black Swan, Helmsley YO62 5BJ
Sutton Bank Walks – meet at Sutton Bank Visitors Centre near the café entrance YO7 2EH
Robin Hoods Bay Walks – meet at Station car park YO22 4RE
Hole of Horcum – Meet at Saltergate Car Park, A169, Lockton, Pickering YO18 7NR
Hutton le Hole – Meet meet in the carpark entrance at postcode: YO62 6UB
In order to enjoy these events it is crucial at this time of year that participants wear suitable outdoor clothing and footwear, we recommend you wear/carry the following items:
• Strong, comfortable walking boots/shoes (no wellies please)
• Comfortable outdoor clothing (jeans are not suitable)
• Waterproof jacket and trousers
• Day sack with waterproof liner
• Head torch (consider spare batteries)
• Snacks, water/drinks as desired
• At least one spare fleece
• Hat and gloves
Recommended items to consider:
• Gaiters (if ground likely to be wet)
• Walking poles
• Small Binoculars
• Small torch
Safety and the Weather
As the group leader, I am responsible for your safety and will be more attentive to your needs throughout, and may show more caution than individuals might when walking on their own.
II undertake continuous risk assessment, and may take the decision to change or modify walking plans at short notice. This most commonly occurs in bad weather conditions. I do lead walks in all weather, so long as it is safe to do so.
All participants must be 12 years or over to participate in these events and under 18’s must be accompanied by an adult.
About your walk leader:
Kev Borwell is the founder of Walk Yorkshire, and no stranger to the great outdoors, a former Royal Marine Mountain Leader he spent 7 winters in Norway and became a qualified Nordic Ski Instructor and Arctic Survival Instructor. He has walked and climbed extensively throughout the UK and Europe before returning to his native Yorkshire.
In 2006/07 he completed all 214 Wainwrights in the Lake District and in 2014 ran the Cleveland Way and Tabular Hills in one go in just over 48 hours, a total distance of 160 miles. He is a practicing first aid instructor and a specialist in outdoor first aid training.