A Heartbeat Walk from Aidensfield on to Howl Moor

Before I continue with this blog, I must warn you in advance about walking on the moors.

Due to the footpaths in many places being almost non-existent, I would not advise following this route unless you are very competent at navigating.

Also, there were stretches of deep peat bogs close to and on one instance, actually on my intended route.

On a brighter note, Goathland and the immediate surrounding countryside is well worth a wander around.

The North York Moors, along with the Yorkshire Dales, are two of many places where I’ve been keen to walk for far too long.

We are blessed with some absolutely fabulous countryside, that is fast deminishing. But it was great to be able to walk without seeing an abundance of wind farms, either close by or in the distance.

Looking over Moorgate to Beck Slack Head

Unfortunately, it’s a 170+ mile journey travelling from my home here in the West Midlands, so when I had the opportunity to take my wife and son, to stay on my cousin’s farm in a very pretty little village in North Yorkshire, my kit was packed with the determination to get out either on to the moors or in to the dales.

After a couple of days, Sunday and Monday meeting family members, one coming down from Edinburgh, I then started to check out the weather for the week ahead. But my wife wanted to go in to Whitby, a lovely town with lots of fascinating shops, plus, it’s where Bram Stoker, originally from Ireland, stayed and penned the famous Dracula story.

Of course, I had to follow the Dracula trail, while my wife and son spent their time around the shops.
Whitby, looking up to St Mary's Church from East Pier, part of the Dracula Trail
Monaning Lisa, amused people walking past in Church Street

Whitby, the 199 Steps, leading up to St Mary's Chuirch and hitby Abbey, part of the Dracula Trail

So that was Tuesday, one dry day gone. The next was the Wednesday, with showers threatened for Thursday and Friday.

So Wednesday 31st October, Halloween, was to be the day. But wait, the weather forecast on Tuesday night said that showers were to hit the Lake District, and then spread from the West over to Yorkshire during the late morning.

I planned out my route the night before, starting from Goathland, walking through the village and out on to the moors close by, taking in some of the key features of Goathland, which is Aidensfield in the TV series; 'Heartbeat', then enjoying the open wilderness of a small part of the North York Moors.

I left a basic route description with my wife just before I set out, watching the sky, which had very low cloud sitting over the Cleveland Way, just across the way from my cousin’s farm.

I decided I was going to go for it, drive out to Goathland, monitor the weather and if necessary, either abort the walk if the weather became too inclement or shorten the route accordingly, keeping in mind, that sunset was 16:35hrs now we had put the clocks back to GMT. (Grrrr)

Not only that, I had recently purchased a new jacket, the Mountain Equipment Morpheus, so it was not only the coats maiden outing, but also a good chance to test it if it did rain.

The cloud lifted nicely as I drove out and the smile on my face did likewise.

Driving in to Goathland past Goathland Station currently in use by the North York Moors Railway, which was featured not just in Heartbeat, but also was Hogsmead in Harry Potter.

Looking over to Goathland Station, alias Aidensfield Station and Harry  Potter's  Hogsmead

I arrived in Goathland, parked my car in the car park and paid and displayed my all day ticket, which was a very reasonable fee.

Then, I got suited and booted and started out on my walk.

The route I took was set out to pass the main features of Goathland, namely some of the buildings used in the TV series; Heartbeat, then to finish by a pub, the Goathland Hotel, otherwise known as the Aidensfield Arms.

I headed South to exit the car park which brought me on to the road through Goathland, turning right and heading in a Westerly direction for the village shops.

Here, you will see the Post Office, Aidensfield Village Stores and a café. Continuing my route in the Westerly direction, following the road as it bends to the left, you reach Glendale House, which was used for Dr Ferenby's surgery the original Doctor in Heartbeat before Kate Rowan took over.

Goathland (Aidensfield) Shops

Aidensfield Stores, Goathland

Continuing down the road towards St Mary’s Church, I took the pathway between the row of houses on my left, keeping the church on my right, to the road ahead.

St Mary's Church, Goathland

Turning left on this road, heading in a South Easterly direction for about 250 mtrs, you arrive at Brow House Farm, the farm where Claude ‘Jeremiah’ Greengrass lived.

Brow House Farm, alias Claude 'Jeremiah' Greengrass' farm

Brow House Farm, alias Claude 'Jeremiah' Greengrass' farm

Now you might be wondering where the police house that Nick and Kate Rowan lived in is was?

Well, that was not in Goathland, but some 70 miles away in a village called Askwith.

Now back to Greengrass’ place, Brow House Farm, which to someone like me with an inquisitive mind, was curious as to what the relationship of Brow House was to Goathland.

After trawling the web to no avail, I contacted the North York Moors Office via twitter (@northyorkmoors), where Catriona McLees very quickly responded, providing me with the following;

“Brow House is an old name and marked on a Goathland map 1572AD, one of thirty three farms in Goathland was leased to Maurice Barkley in 1572 who rented out on Crown rents. One man occupied a cottage for four decades.

Back to the walk. I back tracked down the lane for the road junction just South West of the church, by Cross Pipes Cottages, I then headed out on to the moors in a South Westerly direction.

Looking back up to Goathland just as I start my walk on to Howl Moor

The start of the walk on Howl Moor

Soon after you get going, the path comes to a forked junction. I took the right fork, which wasn’t very clear initially, but a slight trail and the fact I had to follow the road on my right was the giveaway clue.

The aim was to handrail the high edge of the moor, parallel to Hunt House Road, heading towards Hunt House.

Just to reiterate, the path here was very unclear and I regularly checked my map and compass, observing where possible, the features around me to ensure I was heading in the right direction and not veering off course.

Looking back to Goathland, not a very clearly defined path, but lovely and wild.

I stumbled across some cairns, not marked on my map, but seemed to follow a mud trail around the edge of the moor. This mud trail at times became very water logged, or to coin the phrase, a bog fest. So good reasonably watertight boots, gaiters and on not so hot days, waterproof trousers are advisable.

I stumbled across these cairns, not marked on my map

Eventually I arrived near to Hunt House, observing some grouse butts and a game keepers trail, just to the south, heading up the moor.

My next point was John O’Groats!

Yes, you read that correct. While route planning the previous night, I was curious when I saw John O’Groats on my map, so I just had to incorporate it in to my route.

There it is John O'Groats on the map!

There is a John O’Groats on the North York Moors, an old derelict lodge that had seen better days.

From John O’Groats, I then headed towards Gale Hill Forrest to pick up the path that headed North West to pick up the “Piles of Stones” path.

John O'Groats on the North York Moors, an old derelict lodge....

This path soon became non-existent, but very wild and lovely, so again, careful monitoring of my compass and map, coupled with pacing, I trekked across the moor, eventually meeting up with the “Pile of Stones” path.

Heading north-east away from the forest, across the bridge

The path became muddy, but was nicely navigable

But soon, "this path became non-existent, but very wild and lovely"

Looking up the path, I could see a very large cairn, not marked on my map, just as the previous cairns were not marked on my map.

But, my pacing and environment around me confirmed that was the path I wanted and somewhere just over the brow of the moor, would be the Simon Howe Trig point, which was my next intended navigation point.

Here I met up with some ramblers, out on the moors in an organised group. I was enjoying a pleasant chat with a couple of the guys who were curious at some of the kit I had, namely, the pacing beads and my Kestrel anemometer.

I continued up the path, chatting with these guys, who had also started out from Goathland, but followed a shorter route out on to Howl Moor.

The large cairn near to Simon Howe Trigpoint
From here, we parted our separate ways. The group continued back down to Goathland, while I stopped to take in the scenery and a few photos, especially of RAF Fylingdales.

RAF Fylingdales was originally a cold war early warning station, which appeared in Heartbeat sometimes, showing what looked like gigantic golf balls, when they were out on the moors.

RAF Fylingdales, once a Cold War early warning station, the Golf Balls long gone
RAF Fylingdales, close up

But the modern day RAF Fylingdales is a far cry from the RAF Fylingdales of the sixties and seventies. Back then RAF Fylingdales was the early warning system of a nuclear attack, which utilised a series of three large spheres, nicknamed Golf Balls.

Soon after moving on from the cairn, I arrived at the Simon Howe Trig Point was not far away, which I just had to bag.

The map showing the Tripoint, Tumulous and Standing Stones

Simon Howe Trigpoint and Tumulous

Also very close by is a small set of standing stones, of which are marked on the map. Standing stones, often called megaliths, often had an ancient religious significance for early man.

The Standing Stones, near Simon Howe Trigpoint

It was intended at his point to stop for lunch, but in view of the thickening cloud and the fact I was making good time, I decided that lunch should wait, unless I became very hungry in the interim.

I was able to keep my hydration up using my hydration pack and with the added bonus of wine gums, always a favourite when out walking, I wasn’t unduly worried. Little did I realise how much of a bonus that decision would be, until later on.

So I checked my map, studied the next stages, checked my heading with my compass and headed off initially in a Northerly direction for a couple of hundred metres where I would meet up with a forked junction.

Here I would take the right fork, because I wanted to aim for Moss Dyke and then the road towards Moorgate, to pick up the Bridal Path back to Goathland.

The path leading in a northerly direction, away from the Trigpoint, Standing Stones and Tumulus

The post marking the point where I took the right fork

As I approached Moss Dyke, the ground started to become quite squidgy and more so as I continued my descent.

While I always expect to encounter bogs and the possibility of a detour, as I approached Collinson Bield, a Round Barrow, another term for an ancient burial mound, things really started to become interesting.

Map showing Moss Dyke and Collinson Bield

Looking towards Collinson Bield, marked by the horseshoe shaped stone wall

I was still making good time, with two hours of good daylight still available, but looking around me, it was an extremely waterlogged expanse of heath and moorland.

I could just make out what appeared to be a path, but there was the vast expanse of bog between me and this path!

So I started to walk across, treading cautiously where I could, bog hopping and getting ankle deep in water on many occasions.

I will apologise for the lack of photos at this stage, but I'm sure you will appreciate my concentration was on getting across this quagmire while the light was good rather than playing David Bailey.

On one occasion I actually became well and truly caught, my right leg was almost fully engulfed!

So with quick thinking and careful maneuvering, I positioned myself so I would stop any further sinking by lying across some firmer ground and then pulled my leg clear of the bog.

Phew, a close call and to reiterate my earlier warning of deep bogs.

In view of the fact I wasn’t  making the good progress that I hoped for, I decided at this point, it was fruitless trying to cross this boggy ground and that back tracking to gain some height away from the water table, then to follow the contour until such a point as there was greatly reduced or no bog area.

This is where I’m glad that the decision not to stop for lunch was probably a very good idea. The trek, not surprisingly, was going slow. Even though I had my head torch, well, two head torches, in my pack, I was rather keen to do any bog hopping in available daylight. But if I had to, then I would continue using artificial light.

Incidentally, one head torch, an LED one, has has a brilliant white LED beam, while the other has a conventional high powered bulb. The reason why I carry two head torches, is to avoid any messing around changing batteries in the dark, coupled with the fact that the two different types of lighting will give different illumination, which can make a difference on visibility in adverse conditions.

But more concerning, was my estimated return time and the fact I had no mobile phone signal to advise my wife that I would be delayed. Fortunately, my wife will add a couple of hours to my estimated return time, knowing that often I have no mobile phone signal when I’m out and about along with the fact that I could become delayed.

So I continued my detour, maintaining a reasonable height, but still encountering ankle deep bogs, when eventually I spied what looked like a narrow wooden footbridge across some very wet bog with a clear path to the road I required to be walking along.

The narrow footbridge that I had spied

Even the footbridge swayed while walking across it!

"Once across the narrow footbridge and I started to gain height,
the ground became nice and solid"

Goathland in the distance

But to get access to this footbridge required more bog hopping!

I took my chances and managed to reach the footbridge, which would probably be initially for game keepers or other land workers. As I walked across the narrow footbridge, that swayed, well, more like a sinking feeling, while walking across!

"Once across the narrow footbridge and I started to gain height, the ground became nice and solid"

By now, I had walked a kilometre away from my intended route, with a clear path to the road, where I could get back on track again.

"with a clear path to the road, where I could get back on track again"
Once on the road, turning right to head in a South Easterly direction towards Moorgates, where I would pick up the Bridal Path and head north towards Goathland.
I headed along the road in an south easterly direction towards Moorgates


I think it fair to point out here, that the footpath could have been re-routed in view of the ground conditions over time, even though there was a clear track down towards Collinson Bield and Moss Dyke.
That is something I haven't had chance to look in to.
I approached Moorgates I was treated to the sight and sound of a steam train from the North York Moor Railway heading towards Pickering from Goathland.
Just as the road headed off to the right, I was able to pick up and walk along the Bridal Path, which seemed to take on the appearance of a disused railway. It was reasonably straight; a definite width that was akin to many disused railways and it was more importantly, level!

I was treated to the sight and sound of a steam train from the North York Moor Railway
heading towards Pickering from Goathland

Just as the road headed off to the right, I was able to pick up and walk along the Bridal Path

"..... the Bridal Path, which seemed to take on the appearance of a disused railway. It was reasonably straight; a definite width that was akin to many disused railways...."


Once again, many thanks to Catriona McLees in the North York Moors office, who tells me that was part of the old George Stephenson railway, 1836 – 1865.

Goathland was not far away now, with an hour of good daylight left, a nice steady and level track with no real fear of going off course, I managed to find a reasonably wind sheltered spot to stop and eat my lunch.
After that late lunch stop, I continued along the track and it wasn’t long before one of the familiar sights of Goathland came in to view, Scripp’s Funeral Services!

The end of the Bridal Path in sight

....it wasn’t long before one of the familiar sights of Goathland came in to view,
Scripp’s Funeral Services!

Hmmm….. Think I’ll take a rain check on that one appearing at the end of a nice walk….

But hey ho, an even more welcoming sight was about to come in to view, once I’d reached the end of the track and crossed the cattle grid. To my right was a most welcome sight, the Goathland Hotel, alias the Aidensfield Arms in Heartbeat.

"..... a most welcome sight, the Goathland Hotel, alias the Aidensfield Arms ....."


Of course, I just had to venture inside, to the welcome of a nice warm open fire and some liquid refreshment.

Now, I was a little muddy, so I walked back to the car first, where I could remove my boots, remove my waterproof overtrousers, I then cheated and drove to the pub and enjoyed a nice refreshing orange juice and lemonade.

As much as I would have loved a beer, I did have a forty plus mile drive back to my cousin’s farm, so it had to be a non-alcoholic drink.

Hindsight is always a wonderful thing, but I have to say, that looking back over the days walk, which I really enjoyed, I would do it again, I doubt that I would back track any sooner to avoid the bog fest towards the end, because I didn’t venture that far initially and you cannot judge how deep a bog will be, until you put your foot in it, literally.

However, it does go to show, when out walking in remote places, you should always be kitted out for the worst case scenario.

So a suitable torch, preferably a head torch, or two, should be in your pack with good batteries, because it enables you to have free hands when you need them, should always be part of your kit, particularly this time of year.

However, I would like to reiterate my initial advice; Due to the footpaths in many places being almost non-existent, I would not advise following this route unless you are very competent at navigating.

Also, there were stretches of deep peat bogs close to and on one instance, actually on my intended route.

On a brighter note, Goathland and the immediate surrounding countryside is well worth a wander around.

Once again, I want to say a big thank you to Catriona McLees in the North York Moors office, who helped source the information about Brow House Farm and also the George Stephenson Railway on the Bridal Path from Moorgates to Goathland.

A the map covering the area I was walking

Finally, happy rambling and thank you for reading,

Peak Rambler

Catriona McLees at;
North York Moors National Park   www.northyorkmoors.org.uk
Twitter                                           @northyorkmoors
Facebook                                      North York Moors National Park
Email                                             tourism@northyorkmoors.org.uk
Address                                         North York Moors National Park Authority
The Old Vicarage
York            YO62 5BP
United Kingdom

Phone  01439 772700
Fax      01439 770691


  1. Wonderful. I love the moors, they are just wild n bleak. I haven't done that much walking in area though. Thank you for a good read.

    1. it is a pleasure and thank you not only reading, but taking the time to comment.


  2. I do rather like the North Yorks Moors and a trip to Whitby is always on the cards when we're over there too - where fish and chips just have to be bought!
    Geoff was once on a week's trip over there with his class and they just happened to go to Goathland when they were filming. The kids saw many of the actors and 'Greengrass' was especially nice apparently and chatted to them for a while.
    That boggy ground does have a tendency to slow things down though, doesn't it?!

  3. Those bogs certainly do slow things down a bit ha ha.....

    How fabulous to be there while filming was going on.

    I've heard from a few people that have met Bill Maynard, all have said what a friendly and sociable character he is.

    That was not the first time I had visited Goathland, but my third. The first time was back in 1996, after filming had finished. The ruts left by the film crew vehicles on the grass verges was horrendous.

    It was nice to see Goathland, just as I would expect it to be kept on this visit.

  4. A grand read Mike with the usual great photos. A very varied trip, have heard a lot of good things about Whitby, I really must pay it a visit. I like the warnings, good idea that as a few walkers could easily get caught out in the bogs.

    1. Thanks Mike.

      I can highly recommend visiting Whitby, there is so much to see and the shops even fascinated me!

      Initially, I was a little sceptical about putting the warnings in the blog, but in view of the paths becoming unclear so quickly, the shortened daylight hours and the rather largish boggy area, I decided it was all part of sharing my experience.


  5. One of my favourite parts of the country. I discovered it in 1978 when we walked the Coast to Coast and I've been going back ever since. Some great photos too!

    1. It certainly is a lovely part of the country to walk in.

      Thank you for taking the time to read and also for leaving a comment.

  6. Lovely! Wild and untamed (er not you Mike, the moors...!) I do enjoy reading your kit advice. I take a head torch but have never thought to take two. Good idea. Interesting mix of town and moors in your post. Used to love Heartbeat!

    1. Thank you for reading and taking the time to comment Karen.

      I had to have a chuckle about the wild and untamed comment.

      While a lot of kit advice is from the various daytime and night time training sessions I had while improving my nav skills, some have been through watching and learning from other peoples experiences.

      While out on a night nav ex, I've seen a few people struggle to change headtorch batteries in the dark along personal experience in the rain of the LED vs the krypton bulb.

  7. As a regular walker in the Peak District I can relate to your experiences of bog trotting; I reckon ours are more extensive and even more difficult to cross though - being knee deep in peat isn't that unusual for me.

    Whitby is a lovely little town; plenty of fish and chip shops.

    1. I usually manage to keep clear of bogs, but, my route back to the car was just one massive bog, hence the detour up and above the water table for the safe passage.
      Whitby is full of fish and chop shops, though we've found a nice little one with restaurant and easily priced too.
      I can recommend visiting Whitby and following the Dracula Trail if you get the chance.

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