Hole of Horcum
Saltergate, Near Pickering, North Yorkshire
We like to think of this as North Yorkshire's Grand Canyon, and it’s not too fanciful a thought as you stand on the ridge and gaze across this enormous moorland amphitheatre towards Levisham and the North York Moors. This gargantuan natural feature, several hundred feet deep and around a mile across, has attracted all sorts of local legends over the years. Inevitably, perhaps, some see it as the "Devil's Punchbowl", while others cling dear to the enduring tale of Wade the Giant, who scooped up the earth to throw at his wife during a row. The truth is more scientific but in its way just as startling, with the Hole caused by an ongoing process known as "spring-sapping" that has undermined and eroded the land here over thousands of years, making the feature ever larger and ever deeper. The view is magnificent whatever the cause, and is easily accessible from the National Park car park at Saltergate, around 8 miles north of Pickering – though decent weather demands a walk right around the Hole of Horcum, through heather moorland that bursts into a purple blaze in summer. There's a fabulous 5- to 7-mile circuit from the car park, available as a downloadable walk from the North York Moors National Park website; and you can also pick up the walk from Levisham station, which is a stop on the brilliant North Yorkshire Moors Railway line from Whitby to Pickering.
Martin Dunford is Publisher of Cool Places, a new website from the creators of Rough Guides and Cool Camping, suggesting the best places to stay, eat, drink and shop in Britain (coolplaces.co.uk)
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