Walk 164: Levisham…a hamlet in the North Yorkshire Moors

The ‘Needs to Know’

Distance: 1.91 miles (3.07km)

Time to walk: Depending how much you’ve eaten at the pub! About a leisurely 1 hour stroll with time to stop & admire the views, but if the weather’s nice maybe a bit longer. This would be a wonderful summer sunset walk

Difficulty: On quiet country lanes & moor tracks

Parking: Carefully & considerately in the village or, if you’re using the pub, in their car park

Public toilets: The Horseshoe at the beginning & end of the walk

Map of the route:

I stayed at the wonderful The Horseshoe’ Inn in the stunning hamlet of Levisham, on the Yorkshire Moors in April 2022 & just had to tell you about this place. If you fancy a break in the area, then I cannot recommend it enough – they even recommended this short walk for us!

Levisham is a small village in the Ryedale district of North Yorkshire, within the North York Moors National Park, about 5 miles north of Pickering

The village is recorded as a very small settlement in the Domesday Book & the name of was first recorded in 1086 as ‘Leuecen’ which derives from Old Norse, meaning “the farmstead of Leofgeat’s people”

The village is believed to have moved location due to the Black Death in the 14th century. It has a station on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway &, in April 2021 was used as a filming location for the ‘Mission Impossible 7’ film

Just getting to Levisham from the Pickering to Whitby road is astonishing as you’ll initially go down & then up the 1:5 narrow lanes of ‘The Hole of Horcum’

The hollow is 400 feet deep & about ¾ mile across. The Hole was created by a process called ‘spring-sapping’, where water welling up from the hillside gradually undermined the slopes above, eating the rocks away grain by grain. In this way, over thousands of years, a once narrow valley widened & deepened into an enormous cauldron. The process continues today

Local legend has it that the “Devil’s Punchbowl” type feature, the amphitheatre, was formed when Wade the Giant scooped up a handful of earth to throw at his wife during an argument

It truly is spectacular as as you turn the last hairpin bend you emerge into Levisham & the start of this walk

Let’s Walk!

1. There’s no better place to start this short walk than where this walk explodes at the top of ‘The Hole of Horcum’ into the hamlet itself…

The hamlet literally is one street with stunning houses / old farmhouses either side & the pub at the top

2. Pass the village hall with its traditional telephone box…

…& then the beautiful St John the Baptist Church

St John’s became the Parish Church of Levisham in the 1950’s when the other church ceased to be used, & its features incorporates the celebrated ‘Dragon Stone’, broken portions of a carved gravestone depicting a dragon in Scandinavian style, thought to be from a pre-Conquest graveyard 

Go into the church & look for the famous trademark wooden mouse carvings of Robert Thompson of Kilburn. We first saw these in Hull Cathedral on our Walk 112 around that city & it’s great fun trying to find them 

3. At the top of the street’s the wonderful ‘The Horseshoe’ Inn where we stayed…

The 19th century inn is just fab…the hospitality, the food, the staff & the rooms

4. Facing the pub take the right hand lane & begin the steady climb up the hill away from the hamlet…

There’s normally quite a few friendly horses along here

5. We always say, as you climb a hill, never forget to look behind & the views behind are wonderful

The road now has petered out as the dirt track now begins to head for the open moors…

…& the views across to the main Whitby road are getting better & better

6. Eventually the track runs out at a gate, leading onto Levisham Moor…

Levisham Moor is full of archaeological remains & the moor is actually the largest ancient monument in the North York Moors. Here are traces of human occupation stretching back to Bronze Age barrows to late Iron Age boundary dykes. The mounds, ditches, banks & ridges are evidence of burial sites, fortified farmsteads, enclosures & field systems

7. Once through the gate, the path becomes a grassy track that splits. Our route is the one that bears left around the corner…

Continue to follow the left path nearest the dry stone wall, ignoring any others going off to the right

8. At the corner of the walls turn left…

Now at this point you could just walk through the gate to exit the moor, but why would you when there a traditional stone step way…

9. The track becomes a dirt one again as it now begins to head back towards Levisham…

…& then shortly arrives at a junction. If you turned right, the lane would take you to Levisham station. Our route back to the hamlet is straight ahead down the hill

10. Descend the hill to arrive back into Levisham once more & the start of this walk

So that’s it…short…spectacular & good in all seasons

In summer you’ll find Levisham is a mecca for walkers & the village gets extremely busy with many walkers descending into ‘the Hole’ & spending the whole day of the moors.

It really is a special place…

Go Walk!