ONE way of avoiding the heat it is to stick to the trees.

If you are holidaying in the North York Moors this walk makes a good change from the coast and the pen moors. It also makes for a good choice if the rain arrives!

The walk starts in the pretty but small market town of Thornton le Dale on the A170. Have a quick look round the lovely All Saints church near the town centre before heading north up the main road towards the forest.

After 200 metres the road divides. Take the right (minor road) fork and carry on for half a mile to an old paper mill at the road end. Cross Dalby Beck and carry on along the bank to the start of the forest. The forest starts with some minor woodland till a gate brings you to the forest proper.

Take a right turn on to a forest track; Dalby Forest. The forest is 8,000 acres in size and is a mix of pleasure and commerce. There are sections of genuine conifer and pine forest but also plenty of mixed woodland including oak, ash, hazel and beech trees. Keep your eyes skinned for roe deer, badgers and grey squirrels.

The track that we are on is known as Sand Dale and follows the valley floor for the first 1 mile before starting to climb. The whole southern end of the forest is divided between ‘riggs’ (the ridges) and the ‘dales’ which are the valleys between them. It is well signposted.

The forest track of Sand Dale starts to climb up the slope to the high plateau which dominates the northern end of the forest. The track climbs steadily north west through the forest for a further three quarters of a mile until it reaches a T junction with another farm track at its apex.

Turn left and follow the track initially north east but soon turning east and starting to drop. This is Seive Dale and leads to the Outdoor Centre. Seive Dale is a quite steep sided valley, similar to Sand Dale.

The visitor centre is open all year round and has a café and plenty of information about the area, the woodland, walks and cycling trails. There is also a Go Ape centre but this does have restricted opening hours during winter so do check with them.

The centre itself is set next to Dalby Beck. Follow the quiet road south alongside the stream until it crosses and re-enters the forest. After 400 metres the road starts to climb, ignore this and take the signposted track directly ahead.

This is a lovely part of the walk with gaps in the forest giving some nearby views at least. The forest around here was once part of a rabbit warren industry (raising them for fur and meat) in the Middle Ages and also an old settlement from Bronze Age times.

After a mile the forest track ends, turning in to a footpath which continues for a further half mile before emerging from the forest at the lakes of the paper mill. Carry on past the mill and a campsite before joining the lane that leads back to Thornton le Dale.

* Fact File:

Distance: Roughly 11 miles

Height to Climb: 300m (1,000 feet)

Start: SE 835830. There is a small car park in the centre of Thornton le Dale.

Difficulty: Middle. The walk is on good forest tracks for most of the walk but there are some footpaths at the end. There is also some climbing climbing. There are shorter walk from the visitor centre but not as satisfying.

Refreshments: Thornton le Dale has cafes and pubs. The visitor centre has a café.

Be prepared: The route description and sketch map only provide a guide to the walk.

You must take out and be able to read a map (O/S Explorer OL27) and in cloudy/misty conditions a compass.

* Jonathan Smith runs Where2walk, a walking company in the Yorkshire Dales. He has written his own book, the Dales 30, which details the highest mountains in the Dales. He also runs one-day navigation courses for beginners and intermediates.

Join his Learn a Skill, Climb a Hill weekends in the Dales. Visit