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Wednesday Wander Pinchinthorpe, aka Its a bit sloppy underfoot...

Thanks to all the wanderers last night who joined us for a pootle around the Hutton Woods area, from the car park at Pinchinthorpe. The first part of the route took us along the old railway line which is on the Guisborough Branch Walkway Nature reserve. There are various trails for walkers and cyclists including trim trails with exercise stations dotted throughout the lower reaches of Hutton Lowcross Woods.

Once we left the main track we followed the path climbing up into Thomas's Wood which sits just below Bousdale Farm. At the top of the bank, the routes split with a minor one taking you into the wood to follow the ridge line. This is a twisty, heavily cambered path riddled with tree roots, which seem to caper like fools in your torch beam, their woody fingers grabbing at your ankles. That said it is a good trail to follow for boosting your confidence, especially at night. Eventually, you reach the concrete track which leads up from the A173 to Bousdale Farm. This is another good track for hill repeats and rises up to the 200-metre contour line from 110 metres at its base.

From Bousdale farm we followed the public path through fields to join a larger path that runs South West towards Roseberry Common and North East towards Hutton Low cross Woods. This path is well-defined and used by many people heading to and from Roseberry Topping. As we passed through a wooden gate and crested a small rise onto Roseberry Common we could see lights flowing down its east flank, as a group of runners or cyclists descended at speed from the summit.

We however were following the path around the hill known locally as Little Roseberry, not marked as such on mapping, which contours around and up onto Newton Moor to join the Cleveland Way At the top as you arrive on Newton Moor there is a gate and wall where four tracks meet, grid reference NZ58771273. On the finger post along with a public footpath sign, there are three acorn waymarkers, the conventional sign for a national trail of which there are currently 16 in England and Wales. The triple acorns denote that the Cleveland Way does an out-and-back to Roseberry Topping in one direction, with the other two pointing towards Gribdale Gate and its eventual conclusion at Helmsley, on the edge of the North Yorkshire Moors and Newton Moor and beyond to its starting point at Filey on the North Yorkshire Coast. Apparently, this only occurs a couple of times throughout the 109-mile length of the Cleveland Way. For an extra couple of training miles this coming week can anyone think of where these are located? Answers on OS Explorer 26...

After a quick regroup and a natter, we followed the line of a drystone wall away from the Cleveland Way towards Hanging Stone Wood. As we ran, Roseberry Topping rose up behind us, like the vast dorsal fin of a Megalodon shark piercing the calm of a warm Pliocene sea, solid black, a menacing presence on the darkening canvas of the evening sky.

The path leading towards the hanging stone is easily followed and opens out onto a cart track once you cross a style at the edge of Newton Moor. Once we reached the Hanging Stone we had a quick regroup and then set off on the descent into Hutton Low Cross Woods. Underfoot it was decidedly slippy, the recent rain had turned the mud to mush and the rocks and boulders littering the trail to slick, shiny hazards that eschewed the cleats and tread of our trainers shooting our feet left and right like pucks on a hockey rink.

Staying upright was easier said than done, there was more slipping and sliding than running, and the use of body parts other than the feet as a means to safely reach the forest track some 300 metres below us was very much in vogue.

By the time we reached terra firma, we were all liberally caked in mud and in possession of soaking-wet feet, however importantly we were all still intact and unscathed...

The rest of the run followed one of the main forest tracks and for the most part, was easygoing. Only a small portion which passes beside "Blue Lake" found us running on another track that had been turned into a quagmire, though not on a sharp descent or littered with stones it did have its fair share of fallen trees and branches which contrived to make it feel like we were running in a nighttime steeplechase...

Blue Lake actually called Hutton Lowcross Lake was built during the 19th century by the industrialist William Pease as a source of water to drive machinery on Home Farm. Owned at the time by Pease Home Farm sits below the lake near Hutton Gate. The blue colour of the water was believed to have been caused by alum salts leaking into the lake from shale deposits higher up. These days it is more brown than blue and more a pond than a lake, but it is still worth a visit and a ponder on how it may have looked in its industrial heyday.

Once back onto the main track, we followed it back to our starting point at the visitor centre car park. There is a nice segment which runs for a little under half a mile called "Pinchinthorpe Finish", if you have the legs after your run it is worth having a go at it, its always good to finish strongly, on race day you will be surprised how many places you gain!

So to the tale of the tape for last Wednesday, we ran just over 6 miles with a 1,000ft of elevation climbed with a moving time of 1 hr 10 minutes, not at all bad for a little Wander.

Until next week, trot on...💪🦍

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