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Littlebeck

Littlebeck the hamlet derives it's name from Little Beck, the tributary of the River Esk which flows through this secluded valley.

A view of Littlebeck

Set in the bottom of this deep valley with roads such as Blue Bank, Goathland banks and Lousy Hill Lane giving an indication of the local terrain. In the heart of the hamlet is a white painted footbridge, close to which you will find a tree with a plaque showing that it was planted on May 6th 1935 by Henry Ventress Esq to commemorate the Silver Jubilee of King George V. A ford and waterfall all feature on the ordnance survey map with car parks and picnic areas being provided further up the dale.
In the center of Littlebeck but long since converted into a cottage is a watermill that was powered by a timber water wheel. What was the village school has also been converted into a private house and is situated about half a mile out of the village on the west side of the stream. Prior to its closure, thirteen pupils attended the school ranging from five to fourteen years of age. The school had one teacher who suffered from severe arthritis and travelled from Whitby each day by car. When the stream was running high during wet weather and she could not cross the ford, school was held in the village pub.
A walk through Littlebeck Wood can be most enjoyable and towards the dale head is the 30ft high Falling Foss waterfall which can be a spectacular sight, especially after heavy rain.
Unknown to many walkers who use the footpath through the woods from Littlebeck to Falling Foss, about quarter of a mile from the village there are the remains of an open air concrete swimming pool and small boating lake. The bathing pool was opened approximately 1934 but it is possible that it was hardly ever used because by 1945 it was full of silt, bullrushes and populated by a vast number of frogs. Up to a few years ago all that remained to show that a pool had been there, was a slab of concrete holding an iron plate which is thought to be the outlet gate. The boating lake has long since reverted to a bog full of trees and bullrushes. Before the second world war a local man had the idea if making the area a pleasure park but it never seemed to take off.

An image of a cottage in Littlebeck

Further along the footpath there is a large rock which has been hollowed out and is called The Hermitage. It is in fact a folly and was carved out of the rock about 1760 by an out of work seaman on the instructions of the local schoolmaster. 2 wishing chairs were placed on the top of the Hermitage, it is said that if you made a wish in one, you must then sit in the other one to make it come true. Shortly after passing the Hermitage the footpath forms part of the Coast to Coast walk.
Continuing your journey up the valley you will come across two tributary becks of May Beck and Parsley Beck, which converge to form Little Beck. Parsley Beck meanders in a westerly direction up a shallow valley where shortly it passes Lees Head Farm. Here, again before the war, a local landowner blocked the stream with 2 very large iron doors similar to the loch gates on a canal and so formed a lake which was stocked with fish. This lake is known locally by the unimaginative name of the Fish Pond. It now seems to have been forgotten and returned to it's natural state, but still remains very attractive with an island in the middle and at the opposite end to the dam there is a large area of rhododendron bushes which in the late spring are a blaze of colour.
After leaving Falling Foss in a southerly direction, one can follow May Beck to a car park and then at the eastern side of the beck a pleasant walk commences, passing some attractive small waterfalls and follows the course of Blea Hill Beck. The stream is crossed in various places by footbridges and passes the ruin of John Bonds Sheep House before reaching the Old Robin Hoods Bay Fish Road which is really only a track over the moors which was used extensively in mediaeval times. Approximately a mile past the old road one can join the route of the Lyke Wake Walk for the last few miles to Ravenscar.
Littlebeck was once regarded as being fairly isolated and possibly because it was so, the valley played an important part during the 1939/45 war. Maybecks is a continuation of the valley that peters out on the moor near the Fylingdales Early Warning Station. This area was used by the army for training and after the war it was quite common to find vast quantities of used 303 rifle cartridge cases and occasionally live rounds lying amongst the heather and bracken. Several years ago people were still finding them with a metal detector.
On the area of moor above Littlebeck known as Sneaton Low Moor the RAF devised a system of lights to simulate street lighting which was activated at night along with fires and controlled explosions to give the effect of a town undergoing an air-raid. This area was on the flight path of the Luftwaffe approaching the industrial areas of Teesside and it was hoped that the crews would be deceived into thinking they had reached their target and drop their bomb load prematurely. It is not known how successful the ruse was but quite a number of bombs were dropped on the surrounding moors. It is still possible to see the remains of one of the brick/concrete bunkers used by the RAF personnel to control the explosions etc outside the entrance to the caravan site on the Maybeck road.

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