Welcome to Stokesley
Stokesley is an attractive, elegant, historic market town of some 5000 inhabitants, mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086, with many interesting Georgian and Victorian buildings. The River Leven flows through the town and is crossed by the ancient Pack Horse Bridge. Levenside provides visitors with a peaceful riverside walk, well planted with trees, as a contrast to the bustle of the High Street.
The town has a distinguished wide cobbled main street lined with Georgian and Regency buildings.It is well served with shops, banks, public houses and restaurants and the weekly Friday markets are held on the main square (with a farmers' market on the first Saturday of the month). Just off the market square is the Church of St Peter & St Paul which has woodwork carved by the Mouseman of Kilburn.
At the east end of the town is a spectacular view of Roseberry Topping and the North York Moors, four miles away and a prominent feature – the Mill Wheel (pictured left). Within a few yards, a visitor experiences the surprise of a panorama of buildings and open spaces suddenly opening up on entering the town centre. Stokesley Manor House is an imposing building at the eastern end of the Market Square which is being refurbished at present.
The West Green area has old buildings surrounding the green planted with trees. The whole of the town provides features of planted floral tubs in the summer months to welcome visitors to the area.
Stokesley Agricultural Show is held every year on the third Saturday in September and is an attraction for visitors from all over the world. The North Sea coast is 15 miles away; coastal towns are Hartlepool, Redcar, Saltburn, Whitby and Scarborough. York and Newcastle are only one hour away. It provides an excellent centre for exploring the region and is the gateway to the North York Moors.
The boyhood home of Capt James Cook, whose statue gazes seawards from the High Green in the centre. From there the Leven flows through the village to the Low Green, more open and popular for picnics. Here is the church in which the young Cook worshipped, with the site of his parents’ cottage, marked by an obelisk of Australian stone, nearby. Cook’s schoolroom is a small museum devoted to the great man, and a footpath crosses the yard of the farm where his father worked. Many visitors climb Roseberry Topping, Great Ayton’s own Matterhorn, or Easby Hill, crowned by another Monument to Cook.
Ingleby Arncliffe /Cross
A small yet double named village at the western end of the Cleveland Hills, almost overhung by ‘Arncliffe’ – eagle crag. Its mullioned Monks House is eye-catchingly old, and the village hall and inn reflect the Arts and Crafts taste of Victorian ironfounder Sir Hugh Bell, a local benefactor. His family still occupies the 18th century Arncliffe Hall, designed by the noted York architect John Carr. This shares a quiet lane with a charming late-georgian church containing box pews, a three deck pulpit – and a ‘nodding stick’, a long pole used to prod nodding-off worshippers. The nearby Mount Grace Priory is England’s best-preserved Carthusian ruin.
A lively National Park village, invitingly strung along a stream. It dates chiefly from the 19th century, when jet and ironstonewas mined in nearby Scugdale. But on a small spur is an intriguing predecessor: Whorlton, all gone except for earthworks, a castle gateway, and a ruined church approached through a melancholy avenue of yews. Written in the castle was a letter proposing the ill-fated marriage of Mary Queen of Scots to Earl Darnley. Later the castle was the home of an heiress who bedded virtually every knight between here and Whitby. Scugdale produced ‘the world’s tallest man’ – an 8’6” tall attraction in Barnum’s circus.
An extensive village, once a weaving centre that drew traders even from Europe. A mill turned out sailcloth until a century ago. The village’s heart is a very wide sloping green, bordered with trees. At its foot the Wheatsheaf Inn and a crenallated house form a strong focus. Even better, in a wooded glen of the Leven, is the combination of a fine double-arched bridge and the 14th century church, whose treasures range from an Elizabethan pulpit with rich marquetry inlay to a bassoon from the church’s Victorian orchestra. The nearby Rudby Hall was built in 1838 ofr a daughter of William IV.
A lovely village, embowered in trees at the foot of the hills. It’s beautiful 14th century style Victorian church emerged from extraordinary events. To replace a derelict church, a vicar toiled almost single-handedly, only to be accused of arson when the church burned down. His successor, Canon John Kyle, inspired the building of today’s church and became a legend. He farmed, ran an Inn and hunted, announcing the meets from his pulpit. He resisted stained glass for the church, preferring to see trees, sky and the hills. On these, alum production from 1680-1809 left barren waste, at last now greening through sophisticated landscaping.
Great Broughton & Kirkby
Twin villages sharing church, chapel and school – and a sports club for which Middlesbrough-born Brian Clough played his first league football. Great Broughton grew when the largest jet mines in the North York Moors opened nearby. Sandstone terraces housed the miners, while at the Jet Miners Inn jet producers bartered with manufacturers from Whitby. Behind the busy High Street, the village retains one of Yorkshire’s few surviving water splashes. Kirkby has a pleasing little centre, with the church facing charming cottages. Both villages look up to the Wainstones, an impressive rock outcrop, and the hill track from Kirkby traces a medieval stone causeway.
One of the larger valleys of the North York Moors, Bilsdale runs through the heart of the National Park. At both ends its road climbs steep hills, each commanding a spectacular view. Many consider the one from Newgate Bank – the dale’s chequered fields running up to the heather moors- the best in Yorkshire. The strikingly-named village of Chop Gate (pedlar’s way) is the hub of magnificent moorland walks, and the 16th century thatched Spout House is the oldest dwelling in the National Park on it’s original site. With many fascinating features, it is maintained by the Park and open to the public.
A National Park village on the edge of classic Cleveland Hills country. Rudland Rigg, an ancient track from Ryedale, twists down Turkey Nab, while the arrow-straight, mile-long Ingleby Incline, a landmark from miles around, carries the track bed of a former standard gauge railway up to the roof of the moors. Built to ferry ironstone from Rosedale, the entire 16-mile line is now a superb high-level walkers’ and cyclists’ route. Ingleby’s part-Norman church is noted for curious carvings- a laughing dog, a pig and others. The nearby Battersby Junction is a railhead for the highly-scenic Esk Valley Railway to Whitby. A footpath gives glimpses of the Jacobean Ingleby Manor.
The Cleveland Hills
The most emphatic inland boundary of any British National Park, the steep northern escarpment of the heather-capped Cleveland Hills, including a three- mile switchback ridge, provide a spectacular backdrop to the Stokesley district. They embrace the highest point of the North York Moors, the 454m (1489 ft) Botton Head, which can be climbed from Clay Bank, above Great Broughton. So too can the Wainstones, a magnet for rock climbers, while Cringle Moor, another fine hill, is an easy stroll from Carlton Bank, where a café grafted into the hillside is an attraction in itself. The detached Roseberry Topping beckons all.
Close to the sources of both the Leven, a Tees tribituary which waters the Stokesley district, and the Esk, which flows to Whitby, Kildale is a robust little moorland village almost enclosed by hills. The Percys of Northumberland -‘Kings of the North’- had a manor here, its moat now partly adopted by the Esk Valley Railway. Construction of the church in 1868 revealed 12 Viking burials- skeletons with tools and weapons, including swords and a battleaxe. Nearby Baysdale is one of the remotest dales in the Moors, with a shooting lodge on the site of a medieval nunnery which became notorious through its misbehaving nuns.