We sent blogger Carlie Lee of Diary of a Country Housewife to experience Cropton Forest with her family (including her beautiful dog Dora!) Here's her account of one of the great dog walks she went on whilst staying at Cropton. Follow Carlie on Twitter @MrsCarlieLee
The Mallyan Spout
We park just outside Goathland, to the west of the village, above the Mallyan Spout Hotel. We’re supposed to be heading for the Mallyan Spout itself, but the sky’s threatening rain and we’re all suddenly bad-tempered.
We would have parked in the village car park, but a nice lady in the village shop said that that walk might be too far for little legs, and we were better starting up the road. The children – although outraged to be described as ‘little legs’ – had to be bought Chomp bars as bribes to get out of the car.
‘We’re bo-o-o-ored of walking.’
‘We’re bo-o-o-ored of you,’ Stephen and I reply.
The Mallyan Spout is the highest waterfall on the North York Moors, and our Forest Ranger told us all about it. ‘Definitely worth a look.’
We force the children into wellies and say we won’t go far, don’t worry. At least the dogs are happy.
The path the nice lady recommended starts to the right of the hotel, down a track marked with a wooden sign. It’s soon steep enough to need steps, and somehow, we all start to forget about being grumpy, and speed up. We leave the village behind, and the path ahead is empty, inviting us to go faster. The children, full of Chomp, jump down the steps, heedless to our cries to slow down. Pants careers off into the over-grown valley to our right, chasing the stream that runs beside the path, and I can hear Ellie and Jess’s shrill voices calling to Dora - come-on, come-on!
Then suddenly, we’re all galumphing down, our wellies slipping and skidding on the steep steps. The stones are slick with recent rain and overhung with bare-branched blackthorn; oddly crooked ash trees sway overhead in mild threat.
Stephen and I stop being so cautious and join in the general hurtling, jumping from step to step, yodelling for good measure.
We’ve dropped about seventy feet by the time we reach the bottom of the valley, and I come to a stop; enchanted. The valley floor is blazing with yellow daffodils, hundreds of them, in great, glorious, trumpeting clumps. ‘Oh,’ I say. ‘Look.’ But Stephen and the children are at the water, the West Beck, which charges its way over black rocks on the way to New Wath Scar. They’re pointing things out to each other, their voices loud.
There are people up ahead of us, who must have come down from Beck Hole (the longer walk from the car park). They tell us they don’t mind the dogs, and so Pants and Dora run free, investigating crevices, scrambling after the children. The path is strewn with boulders and rocks, they’re slippery, unstable, covered in vibrant, springy wool-like moss, as if Yarn Bombers had run amok and covered the valley.
It takes ten minutes or so of scrambling to reach the Spout, and when we do, Pants barks at it. It’s not really how we imagined; pretty, but not exactly Niagra. Very much a Spout. The children are more impressed by the huge tree trunk across its base, studded with coins.
‘Mummy!’ says Ellie. ‘A real-life Money Tree.’
‘Um,’ we say, and stop them trying to excavate the jammed-in coins.
The path leads onwards, narrow and seductive. There’s a foot bridge ahead, and the dogs and I are the first to reach it. There’s a man the other side, digging with his hands beneath a fallen tree stump. Pants growls, his hackles rising, and Dora goes to join in with the excavation.
‘Oh,’ I say, when he stands up. ‘A Geo-Cache.’
‘Yes!’ The man has white hair and it is standing on end around his head, like an old-fashioned halo. Pants runs away.
Our family sweeps onwards, leaving the man and his tin box. The path is easier now, winding through an enchanted green-velvet valley. After fifteen or so minutes, we see a narrow track leading up the side of the ravine, and we decide to follow it, rather than continue along West Beck. The children are starting to make hungry noises, the Chomp bar energy waning, and I think longingly of a hot pot of tea.
We slog up the path, not speaking now. I tow Jess behind me, her eight-year old’s legs are apparently unsuited to uphill activity. We leave the valley behind and climb through moorland, past a random iron bed-stead, until we reach the moor road. It’s barely half a mile from here to get back down into Goathland.
We call the dogs to us, putting them on their leads, and start the slow walk to the village. We’re all quiet from the climb, but in a good-walk way, not all itchery-grouchery again. Three sheep stand in the road, and watch us impassively as we approach.
‘I can see the church,’ says Ellie, looking ahead. ‘Look. Down there.’
‘I can see the car,’ adds Jess, staggering.
‘Um,’ I say. ‘Lovely. Yes. Good for you.’ My eyes are fixed firmly two hundred yards ahead. ‘I can see the Mallyan Spout Hotel.’ I look at Stephen, hopefully. ‘And Afternoon Tea?’
Time taken: 1.5 hours with lots of stops to look at things
Distance: Around 3 miles
Terrain: Climbing involved!