North York Moors

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Wainstones walk - Bilsdale from Wainstones by Mike Kipling

Wainstones Walk

Some of the most spectacular views in the whole National Park unfold as you cross the heights of Cold Moor, en route to the magnificent rock crags known as the Wainstones. This 8-mile circuit makes a challenging day out, but you are amply rewarded for your efforts, whether it’s watching rock-climbers tackle the crags, sampling one of the most thrilling sections of the Cleveland Way National Trail, or skirting Urra Moor on your return – the latter is the highest point in the North York Moors. This is a fabulous moorland walk, with lots of high points – in every respect!

Walk info

Great for:
list-tickers, rock-hounds, more than a stroll, big-sky views
8 miles (13km)
5 hours 30 minutes
Chop Gate Village Hall car park, B1257, 12 miles (19km) north of Helmsley
Grid Ref:
SE 560 993
OS Map:
Ordnance Survey OL26
Chop Gate
Start/Finish of walk
GPX file, MMO file

About this walk

WalkThe route follows moorland tracks through the heather on Cold Moor and Urra Moor and, although these are clearly defined, the going can be wet and boggy in parts. Conditions can change quickly, even in summer, and visibility is sometimes poor. The Cleveland Way section of the walk (from points 5 to 10, including the Wainstones) is largely along a stone surfaced track and is well waymarked. There are no stiles en route, but there are steep ascents and descents at the Wainstones and Hasty Bank.

DogsPlease keep dogs on a short lead or to heel at all times, and always on a short lead between 1 March and 31 July when birds are nesting on the ground. You may encounter livestock on the lower parts of the walk – please keep your dog on a short lead near farm animals. It's also safest to keep your dog on a lead near cyclists and horse riders.

The Wainstones

These impressive sandstone crags are the largest such group in the North York Moors. The presence of these pillars and buttresses of rock in such an exposed place shows how resistant they are to weathering. Weaknesses and cracks in the rock have been worn away over centuries by wind, ice and rain to leave joints and fissures between the blocks. Listen carefully on a breezy day and you might hear the wind make a wailing sound as it blows between the jumbled outcrops.

The Wainstones have been popular with rock climbers for years. Many come to climb the twin pillars of the steeple and the needle, which you pass on this walk.

Shaping the land

Many of the apparently natural features in the landscape have been left by man's activities over the centuries. As you walk, look for the Three Howes, high on Cold Moor. These are the graves of Bronze Age people who lived here over 3,000 years ago. Howes may also have been boundary markers between ancient territories, which is why they are usually found on the moor tops. As you walk along the edge of Urra Moor you follow a long bank and ditch. Its age and use remain a mystery. It may have been an ancient defensive earthwork but is more likely to be a medieval boundary marker.