White Horse & Gormire Lake from Sutton Bank.
Distance: 6¼ miles / 10 kilometers
Time: 3 hours 30 minutes
Map: OS Explorer OL26 - North York Moors Western area.
This easy to moderate 6¼ (10 km) route starts at the (card only) pay and display car park at the Sutton Bank National Park Visitor Centre where there is a café and toilets. Cross the A170, turns left, south on the Cleveland Way passed the Yorkshire Gliding Club to the Kilburn White Horse. From the Kilburn White Horse car park pass through the gate to enter Hood Hill Plantation. The woodland pathways are clearly defined, there are a few sign posts though not very regular, but the paths are easy to follow on the map. Always continue ahead, the footpath joins the bridleway and a farm track after which it meets the A170. Then left down Sutton Bank (A170) hill to a gated access farm track on the right. The track passes Gormire Farm and on to Gormire Lake. After visiting the lake and area head out of Garbutt Wood Nature Reserve to a gate to enter Boltby South Woods, for an ascent up Sutton Brow, at the top turn right on the Cleveland Way back to the car park.
Sutton Bank is an escarpment in the Hambleton Hills which encompasses a plateau where the Yorkshire Gliding Club resides; in 400BC the Celtic Brigante tribe built a massive Iron Age hill fort, the largest of its kind in the north of England. The fortification covered an area of 60 acres with a 1.3 mile defence perimeter.
The area was also the location of the Battle of Old Byland where the army of King Edward II was defeated by the army of Robert the Bruce on 14th October 1322.
Being a high point on the Hambleton Hills, Sutton Bank offers extensive views to the west over the Vale of Mowbray, and to the south over the Vale of York.
The Kilburn White Horse geoglyph was cut into the limestone on the SSW facing steep slope of Roulston Scar in 1857 by Victorian businessman Thomas Taylor. It is artificially whitened using chalk chippings from the Yorkshire Wolds.
Hood Hill Plantation is a sprawling woodland that sits on the eastern slope of Hood Hill (827 feet/252 metres high). The mixed species woodland reaches up to the Kilburn White Horse. There an abundance of woodland trails to explore for hours of fun to enjoy the sights and sounds of the wood.
Gormire Lake is popular with wild swimmers, it is the fourth largest natural lake in Yorkshire. The lake lays beneath the 460 foot rock face of Whitestone Cliff that adds to the picturesque views. On warm sunny days between May and October dragonflies and damselflies can be found highly active around the habitat of bulrushes. The lake was designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) in 1954, and the area of Garbutt Wood surrounding the lake in 1954.
Garbutt Wood Nature Reserve is predominantly birch, oak and holly trees, with some aspen, ash, sweet chestnut and sycamore. The woodland plants and fungi attract a wide variety of birds and insects for the explorer. The combination of the lake nestled within the woodland has an allure that can be quite spellbinding, with plenty of places for a picnic.
Whitestone Cliff (aka White Mare Crag), the cliff/crag is popular with climbers, it has 62 named routes of varying grades of difficulty.
Boltby South Woods run along the Sutton Brow Escarpment. It is an ancient woodland with a mix of native trees including rowan, oak, ash and birch. The trails are popular mountain biking and walking with plenty to explore. The trails provide access to Sneck Yate Woodland and car park.
Alternatively each area can be made as two short loop walks one to the White Horse (southern 3 miles loop) and the other to Garbutt Wood & Gormire Lake (northern 3½ miles loop).