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Circular around Littlebeck and Falling Foss


A circular walk starting in the Forestry Commission car park near to Falling Foss. The waterfall is soon reached, whose 30 foot drop can be quite spectacular after heavy rain. The walk continues on to Littlebeck affording views of the surrounding countryside. From Littlebeck, the coast to coast path is followed back towards Falling Foss through Little Beck Wood Nature Reserve, passing the Hermitage at the top of the wooded gorge.


Parking: Public car park near to Falling Foss (grid reference NZ 888 035). The car park is signed from the 'Red Gate' bend on the B1416 road.
Directions: Nearest post code for Sat Nav: YO22 5JD - get directions here
Walk distance: 3.4 miles (5.4 Km)
Estimated walk time: 1 hour 25 minutes
Height climbed: 210 metres
Grade: 1-B: A short walk that requires modest uphill walking
Peaks / summits: None
Wainwrights: None
Map: Ordnance Survey - Explorer OL27 (North York Moors - Eastern Area)
Buy this map from Ordnance Survey
Walk features: Birds, Café, Flowers, Geographic feature, Hills or Fells, Pub, Stream or River, Toilets, Views, Wildlife
Facilities / refreshments: Toilet and café
Nearest town: Walk starts near Falling Foss - nearest larger town is Whitby
Walk Tags: Walk, walks, North York Moors, North York Moors walk, Falling Foss, Falling Foss walk, Littlebeck, Falling Foss Tea Garden, Hermitage, Coast to Coast, Coast to Coast walk, Little Beck Wood, Little Beck Wood nature reserve


Falling Foss

Looking over the top of the falls

Leave the Forestry Commission car park and turn left to head down the track through the woods, following the wooden sign for Falling Foss waterfall. After about seventy-five yards, branch off right down a smaller, steeper, but still gravelled path, initially through some wooden railings following a wooden waymarker, painted red on top with a white arrow. A few yards further on, Falling Foss can be viewed over the wooden railings to the right. This waterfall, with its 30-foot drop, can be quite spectacular after heavy rain.

The wooden footbridge

Bridge by Falling Foss

Upon leaving the view of the falls, continue in roughly the same direction on for a few more yards and pass over a wooden footbridge. Once over the footbridge, head straight on for the right hand side of the bridge ahead. Upon reaching the bridge, do not cross it, but turn right heading up hill along the very wide forest track.

Looking back down the lane towards Falling Foss

Heading right off the track after Foss Farm to head towards Leas Head Farm

After a further one hundred yards, the trees on the right hand side disappear, with tree cover now only on the left hand side of the track. This track slowly climbs, affording ever expanding panoramic views all around. The track splits just before the farm buildings on the right (Foss Farm). The left hand fork is signed bridleway, ignore that and continue ahead around the side of the farm. Once the track passes the farm it heads slowly downhill towards three gates a further fifty yards ahead. Pass through the middle wooden gate, which passes through into a fenced alleyway.

Looking back at the path approaching the bridge

Path over the stile, just before reaching Leas Head Farm

This path continues along the alleyway following the line of trees. About one hundred yards further on, just after the path bends around to the left, there is a wooden gate on the right hand side signed bridleway. Pass through this wooden gate and head down hill briefly before starting to climb again on the far side of the dip. The path keeps close in by the hedge on the left hand side of the field. Do not take any of the more minor paths, which veer off to the right. The path then passes between some gorse bushes, and through the trees a ford is just about visible.

As the path then heads gently down hill, it appears to split. Take the right hand fork, which after a further thirty yards passes underneath the electricity lines overhead, and pulls in on the right hand side of a fence. Continue ahead, with the fence and water on your left towards the large sign that states "All dogs must be kept on leads". Pass through the wooden gate by the sign, over the bridge and continue along the rough track for a further fifty yards. Just before reaching the buildings of Leas Head Farm, turn left and pass over the stile into the field. Head slightly diagonally right up the field for about twenty yards to meet a farm track. Turn left onto this track and continue to head up swinging around to the right for the corner of the field, where the track passes through a metal gate. Once through the gate, continue along the level track following the sign "footpath", heading away from Leas Head Farm, in the direction of Intake Farm and Esk Dale ahead.

The road away from Intake Farm, looking towards Esk Dale

The winding road down into Littlebeck

From here there are excellent panoramic views of the wooded gorge to the right, Esk Dale ahead, moorland to the left and the Newton House Plantation forest behind. Keep on this lane now for just under half a mile. Pass through a metal gate, with the buildings a few yards further ahead to enter the farmyard. About forty yards further on, follow the track to the right, for a further twenty yards to the wooden signpost. The track now swings around to the left and becomes metalled underfoot. Where it becomes metalled, there is a yellow arrow on the gate stoop. Follow this road now towards Littlebeck. The road after a while bends sharply to the right, followed a hundred yards further by a bend to the left as the outlying houses of Littlebeck are reached. Follow this road downhill for a few hundred yards, and past Littlebeck Methodist church on a left hand bend. Do not follow the road uphill. Almost opposite the Methodist church on the far side of the road, there is a sign that tells you of the history of Littlebeck and informs you about the area.

Littlebeck Methodist Chapel

The Old Mill, Littlebeck, now holiday cottages

Between 1660 and 1805 grey Jurassic shale was quarried at Littlebeck, from which Alum was extracted. The extraction of alum from shale was a very time consuming job, as huge mounds of rock were burnt for up to a year, and then resultant ash was then subjected to a purification process. The resultant alum was then used when dyeing cloth and to improve the qualities of leather. Littlebeck is also the place to be on the first Tuesday in August. Since 1955, this is the day the new Rose Queen is crowned. The Rose Queen in waiting is carried from the ford to the grounds of the Old Mill by a raft. Then after the ceremony, local children perform a mimed version of a fairy tale, and a traditional village fete follows raising funds for the village hall.

From the Methodist church, follow the road by the sign and across the bridge over Little Beck, then continue on the road, past the Old Mill and the Old Woodcarver's cottage. Until the 1930's, the Old Mill was used for grinding corn in the area. After a few yards, as the road starts to rise on a left hand bend, turn right off the road following the wooden footpath sign for "Falling Foss and Coast to Coast". This part of the path is actually part of the Coast to Coast route from St Bees (in Cumbria) to Robin Hood's Bay (only a few miles away to the east). There is also a sign for Nature Reserve Littlebeck Wood. Little Beck Wood is a nature reserve that covers over 65 acres on either side of Little Beck. The semi natural woodland consists mainly of oaks, interspersed with ash, alder, hazel, cherry, rowan holly and conifers. In springtime the wood takes on a lovely purple hue as it burgeons with bluebells. The reserve is also well known for its collection of mosses, fungi and insects.

Pass over the stile and continue ahead on this (often muddy!) path through the trees. This path continues, mainly parallel with the beck below, and has interspersed along it, wooden boarded sections, presumably to keep walkers from the muddy sections.

After about one hundred yards, some boards are reached which give information about the Nature Reserve. Continue ahead along the path, which after a couple of hundred yards heads away from the water, and follows a loop which passes by a small waterfall as it starts to flatten. The path loops around this to the right, passing some wooden fencing, before bending back to the left. The path then passes up some man made steps, just before which the entrance to a small cave can be seen. Pass up the steps and around the mound before passing around a knoll and then descending down some more man made steps.

Waterfall just outside of Littlebeck

Cave entrance

The (often) muddy path working its way through the wooded gorge

The path through the gap in the wall

The Hermitage

The view from 'The Hermitage' across the wooded gorge

The path again then starts to approach the beck. Continue along the undulating path, and after a slightly longer boarded section pass through a gap in the wall. Once through this, the path heads slightly right up hill. The path continues its way undulating through the wooded gorge. After a while, the path then again starts to climb steadily heading diagonally left slowly getting further away from the water. As more height is gained, the path becomes more solid and easy walking underfoot. It climbs a set of man made steps and heads on a few yards further on to the Hermitage. This is engraved C & G 1790. This is only now a few yards below the top of the wooded gorge. There is a seat inside The Hermitage, and opposite is a viewing area across the gorge, which when constructed will have afforded a much more panoramic view than it does now, with the trees having grown to their full heights.

A couple of yards past The Hermitage, the path forks, with the left hand fork keeping reasonably level and the right hand fork, denoted by a wooden way marker with a red top heading off diagonally right down hill.

Take the left hand fork going ever so slightly up hill, but see below for alternative ending if you want to extend the walk and see Falling Foss again. After a further seventy-five yards, turn right, heading slightly downhill, following the sign for "C To C" with a yellow arrow (the left hand fork here, simply bends around to a wall twenty yards further on). Head along this path, which shortly afterwards pulls in alongside a wall. Path continues along the wall, past Newton House, up to the left. As the path leaves the wall it continues through the trees, and after a couple of hundred yards of level walking reaches a wooden footpath sign. Down to the right is Falling Foss, ignore this and continue straight on following the sign for "Car Park". A few yards beyond the sign, the path bends around to the left and climbs steadily up hill for about one hundred yards until it reaches a wall. Pass through a gap in the wall and cross the road back into the car park.

Alternative Ending

From The Hermitage, after a couple of yards, take the right hand fork heading downhill, passing after about fifty yards by some large rocks. The path then heads more steeply down hill by way of some man made steps and after a further couple of hundred yards pulls back in quite close to the beck and flattens. After a further fifty yards pass another wooden waymarker down towards the beck (not on the sketchy path which goes off to the left at the waymarker). The path drops down over a wooden footbridge. Continue ahead past the waymarker with yellow sign on, ignoring the second wooden footbridge that goes off to the right, and continue straight ahead heading initially up hill, passing another wooden waymarker fifteen yards further on, this time painted red.

Heading away from 'The Hermitage' on the alternative longer end to the walk

Looking back at the steps leading away from 'The Hermitage'

Looking back across the footbridge

Path through the wooded gorge

The path passes under the electric wires, and passes another waymarker as it begins to flatten. The path again climbs, passes up further sets of man made steps, the second set bending around to the left, before passing up another set. The path then appears to head for the edge of the trees, shortly after which pass over a small rise and head to the right following another waymarker, painted red on top. The path heads now mainly downhill, with the house by Falling Foss, visible down to the left. The path then reaches a large green sign stating "Falling Foss Walk - red route, Falling Foss car park 300 metres, May Beck Car Park 1.2 miles". A few yards past the sign, turn left down the wide forest track past Falling Foss and this time follow the track over the bridge. Once over the bridge, continue up the track for a further one hundred yards and turn right back into the car park.


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