North York Moors National Park Sleights England
If ever there was a magical woodland walk, this is it. Take the trail through the trees on a 2-mile circular route that passes an idyllic woodland tea garden and the 30-foot Falling Foss waterfall, before returning alongside babbling May Beck. It’s a lovely shady walk for summer – with shallow waters to paddle in, and a bridge to play pooh-sticks from – and spectacular in autumn when the woodland colours are at their best. If you don’t intend to venture far from the tea garden and waterfall, you can use an alternative car park near Falling Foss instead.
Walk infoGreat for: woodland wanders, riverside rambles, family walks, nature nuts Length: 2 miles (3.2km) Time: 1 hour 30 minutes Start/Finish: Forestry Commission car park at May Beck, 6 miles (9.6km) south of Whitby Grid Ref: NZ 892 024 OS Map: Ordnance Survey OL27 Refreshments: Falling Foss Toilets: None on the route
About this walk
Most of the walk is on woodland paths which are occasionally uneven and stony. There are some uphill and downhill sections, although the gradients are generally easy to moderate. There are two gates but no stiles on the route. Some of the walk is over Forestry Commission access land, and tracks may occasionally be closed for tree-felling or other operations, although the land is usually open at weekends.
Near Falling Foss waterfall there are some very steep drops off the path – you should keep your dog on a short lead for safety. In the last section of the walk there may be sheep grazing – please keep your dog on a short lead if livestock are present.
Tea, cake and local history
The beautifully sited woodland cottage of Midge Hall has a perfectly located tea garden – especially for weary Coast-to-Coast walkers who tramp by on their way to the walk's end at Robin Hood's Bay. Surprisingly, however, it's just the latest incarnation of a popular tradition, deep in the enchanted woods near Whitby.
What was originally built in the eighteenth century as an isolated gamekeeper's cottage was already being used as a tea garden as far back as the 1930s – with visitors bussed here from the coast for a stroll among the trees and a view of Falling Foss waterfall. The cottage was abandoned in the 1960s and fell into disrepair, but since 2008 new owners have breathed life back into a unique piece of woodland heritage.
The hermit of Falling Foss
A short walk from Falling Foss is a cave carved out of an enormous boulder. Known locally as 'The Hermitage', and dating from as far back as the 18th century, it was once the secluded home of a hermit. The woods provided food, fuel, shelter and building materials – but imagine the fortitude required to live such a reclusive life, deep in the woodland shadows.