North York Moors

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Broxa Forest

Broxa Forest

Get a birds-eye view of gorgeous Harwood Dale from the escarpment edge on a circular walk (just under 6 miles) that starts and finishes in the shade of Broxa Forest. Tree-felling has opened up the views on the first part of the walk, and you really feel on top of the world as the path swings round the scarp edge. The return is through the dappled shade of mixed woodland, so this is a walk for all seasons – and it’s one which can be shortened by a mile or so if you wish, by taking a shortcut halfway round.

Walk info

Great for:
woodland wanders, nature nuts
5¾ miles (9.3km)
2 hour 30 minutes
Forestry England car park at Reasty Hill Top, 4½ miles (7.25km) northwest of Scalby, near Scarborough
Grid Ref:
SE 964 943
OS Map:
Ordnance Survey OL27
Harwood Dale, Scalby, Cloughton
Scalby village (4½ miles/7.25km)
GPX file, MMO file

About this walk

WalkThe walk is on good stone and gravel forest tracks, with some scrub and woodland sections which can be muddy after heavy rain. It uses a mixture of public rights of way and other paths and tracks over Forestry England access land – tracks may occasionally be closed for tree felling or other operations, although the land is usually always open at weekends. There are no stiles en route, but watch out for occasional vehicles on the main forest tracks.

DogsYou can let your dog off the lead in Forestry England woods, but always make sure they are under control. Part of the route in Broxa Forest follows the Moor to Sea Cycle Network – it's safer if you put your dog on a lead when cyclists pass.

The nightjars of Broxa Forest

Broxa Forest is a mix of pine, other conifers and semi-natural woodland, with heath-like clearings left by felling forestry trees. It's a habitat that supports the mysterious nightjar, a nocturnal bird that has various curious legends attached to it – not least the ancient, if mistaken, belief that nightjars sucked the udders of she-goats.

The nightjar nests on the ground in the bracken and wakes at dusk to feed, snacking on moths and other insects – its huge, moon-shaped eyes are adapted to the dark. Perhaps even odder than its appearance is its love call – an unearthly churring sound that rings through the trees ­– accompanied by an energetic courtship dance.

An ancient forest?

The North York Moors was once covered in natural woodland, though many areas – including around Broxa – were cleared by farmers and settlers during the early Bronze Age. There was also a later Iron Age settlement in Broxa. In the 12th century, much of the land between Pickering, Scarborough and Whitby was declared a royal hunting forest, while after World War I the government set up the Forestry Commission to care for Britain's woods and establish strategic timber reserves. This explains the mix of woodland in Broxa and elsewhere – only about 20 percent of woodland in the North York Moors is old woodland or on the site of old woodland.