THE HOLE OF HORCUM IS A VAST NATURAL AMPHITHEATRE 120M DEEP AND 1.2KM WIDE.
t would be oh so easy to linger, but the road beckons. Leaving Thornton-le-Dale and the relatively flat landscape of the Vale of Pickering, we immediately start climbing through the dappled light of wooded lanes, up onto the wild moorland. Seeing a sign for Dalby Forest, I can’t resist a short diversion onto the Forest Drive. The forests of North Yorkshire are somewhere I’m well acquainted with, having marshalled and competed on many motor rallies along these fast and fearless gravel tracks at the very start of my career. Today the forests are a little quieter - if no less adrenaline fuelled - as Dalby has established itself as one of the country’s top destinations for thrill seekers, with an extensive network of mountain bike trails and the exciting Go Ape! aerial adventure course. Detour complete and nostalgia fully indulged, ‘Betty’ and I emerge from the forest and rejoin the open expanse of the moors, as the road gradually climbs towards one of the highlights of our route. One can’t help but do a double take as the Hole of Horcum rears into view; in place of the summit I’m expecting, a vast natural amphitheatre some 120m deep and 1.2km wide arcs away from the side of the road. Folklore has it that this ancient geological depression was formed when Wade the Giant scooped up a handful of earth to throw at his wife during an argument. We’ll not dare to contest that one! Taking the chance to stop off at the panoramic viewpoint near Saltergate and marvel at Yorkshire’s very own mini-Grand
DISCOVER Dalby, The Great Yorkshire Forest hides a secret world of offbeat experiences. Offering over 8,000 acres of woodland to explore and enjoy, including play areas for children, barbecues for the family and plenty of waymarked cycling and walking trails.
Clockwise from top left: The stunning Hole of Horcum surrounded by heather © Richard Wood. Driving through chocolate box villages. ‘Aidensfield’ Garage in Goathland - home of Heartbeat. Waiting for a train on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway. Exploring Britain’s ‘most scenic’ bus route. Mirror man Seb is transported back in time.
Canyon, its sheer scale is truly a sight to behold. It’s surely enjoyed even further by the footpath that traverses its depths - the perfect trail for any budding explorer. Yet our imaginary bus conductor again calls time, so I swiftly return to the car and continue on my journey of discovery bearing north, onto the most rugged yet beautiful part of the route. Plunging downhill through hairpin bends and onto a mini roller-coaster of a road, flowing curves and gradients take us past the dramatic presence of RAF Fylingdales. There’s been a military base here since the early 60s and the Cold War looms large in the form of its distinctive, towering brutalist ‘wedge’ structure (a cheese shaped one, at a push). Part of the country’s early warning radar defence system, its motto is “Vigilamus” – latin for ‘we are watching’. Yet for all its utilitarian looks and controversial purpose, it actually appears strangely peaceful and sculptural up here in its lofty and isolated spot. At this point, we spear left off the A169 and follow a smaller but no less enjoyable road to Goathland. Progress may not be the most rapid aboard Betty but with the hood down, sunglasses on and the wind in my hair I don’t mind in the slightest – and neither it seems do the vehicles who pass and give a friendly wave as we continue on our way through the vibrant purple-hued heather moorland. Driving towards the Mallyan Spout Hotel I spot another Morris Minor parked outside, so figure it’s the perfect time to park up for a spot of lunch whilst soaking up the sunshine in the hotel’s garden.