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How to visit the Hole of Horcum, walks & information

One thing we always look out for when driving through the North York Moors is the Hole of Horcum. It’s an impressive sight and made us want to learn more about it, what caused it and how you can visit it today. Consider this article the answer to all those questions; here, you will learn how to see the Hole of Horcum and discover a selection of nearby walks and local legends.

Located in the North York Moors National Park, the Hole of Horcum is 400 feet (120m) deep and roughly ¾ mile (1.2km) across a section of the Valley of the Levisham Bech in the Tabular Hills. The first part of the name is hor, meaning ‘fifth in Old English.’ The suffix means “bowl-shaped valley” and is of Brittonic Celtic origin. Early forms of the name are Horcombe, Hotcumbe, and Holcumbe.

View of the Hole of Horcum in the North York Moors
Panoramic view of the Hole of Horcum.

How was the Hole of Horcum created?

The Hole of Horcum was formed by a process named spring-sapping. Spring sapping is when water wells up from the hillside and gradually undermines the slopes above. It eats away at the rocks over thousands of years, resulting in a widened and deepened hole in the valley. This process continues, so the Hole of Horcum is constantly changing.

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The local legend of the Hole of Horcum, The Devil’s Punch Bowl

Many people call the Hole of Horcum the ‘Devil’s Punch Bowl.’ It is said that Wade The Giant created the hole during a fight with his wife, Bell. He grabbed a handful of earth to throw at her. Fortunately, he missed, and the mound of earth sailed past Bell and landed to form the outcropping Blakey Topping. North Yorkshire is jam-packed with myths and legends about giants and how they have shaped the landscape.

Hole of Horcum walking routes

Hole of Horcum Circular Walk, How to visit the Hole of Horcum, walks & more
Hidden amongst the heather are traces of human occupation dating back from the Bronze Age barrows. Image from Tripadvisor.

Levisham Moor and the Hole of Horcum Circular

5 miles/8km (7 miles/11km with diversion) | 3 / 4 hours | Easy

This walking route offers spectacular landscape views of the North York Moors. You begin at Saltergate, then follow a well-trodden trail over Levisham Moor, past critical archaeological remains. Hidden amongst the heather are traces of human occupation dating back from the Bronze Age barrows to late Iron Age boundary dykes. The mounds, banks and ridges are burial sites, fortified farmsteads, enclosures and field systems.

From here, you can divert to the viewpoint of Skelton Tower; this route then drops into the ravine of Dundale Griff. A monastic sheep farm was established at the head of Dundale Griff in medieval times. You can still see the stone building foundations. To preserve the remains, it is vital to keep to the path from Dundale Pond to Skelton Tower. This route returns you along the valley to the Hole of Horcum, where you get back out at Saltergate.

This route is straightforward to follow. Just keep to the path, prepare for the weather to change and mud in places that will be slippery. The trail is dog-friendly; however, between 1 March and 31 July, rare birds will nest on the ground, so it’s essential to keep your dog on a short lead during this time. You can follow the entire route and find more information here.

Walking route to the Hole of Horcum, Levisham Moor and the Hole of Horcum Circular
This walking route offers spectacular landscape views of the North York Moors. Image from Tripadvisor.

Hole of Horcum Circular Walk

7 miles 11.5 km | 3 hours | Easy to moderate

With most of the Hole of Horcum circular walks, you walk to Levisham and return through the Hole of Horcum, but this one is slightly different. This route begins at the highest elevation, and you walk down before returning to the starting point at the top. It offers spectacular views as you skirt the ridge before slowly venturing on a decline. Again, you will get to enjoy a variety of moorland, woodland and fields. The walking route is well maintained but becomes boggy after rainfall. You can follow the entire route and find more information here.

Hole of Horcum footpath
Hole of Horcum ridge footpath.

Where can I park to visit the Hole of Horcum?

For both routes, you can park at Saltergate Car Park. The car park is just off the A169. The full address is Saltergate Car Park, Lockton, Pickering YO18 7NR.

Facilities nearby;

Unfortunately, there are no toilets in the car park or the route. However, there is a pub, The Horseshoe Inn, in Levisham, and often there is an ice cream van in the Saltergate Car Park for refreshments.

We hope this article has been helpful and will help to plan your trip. If you have already tried one of our suggested Hole of Horcum walking routes, or we have missed out on another legend about this intriguing part of the North York Moors landscape that we need to include, please let us know in the comments.

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