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Lilla Cross In The North York Moors National Park

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Lilla Cross is a fascinating monument in the North York Moors National Park, and in this article, you can learn more about Lilla Cross and how to visit it.

Admire the area’s natural beauty or delve into its fascinating history. Here’s more information about Lilla Cross in the North York Moors and how to visit it.


What is Lilla Cross in the North York Moors?

Lilla’s Howe, located in Fylingdales Moor, is home to the historic marker Lilla Cross. You can find Lilla Cross on the hilltop of Lilla’s Howe, standing at 959 feet (292 m) above sea level. The cross is next to a burial mound alongside an ancient track called Old Wife’s Trod.

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Lilla Cross in the North York Moors.

Legend has it that King Edwin of Northumbria placed the cross there to mark the grave of Lilla. He was one of his loyal thegns who saved his life during an assassination attempt.

The oldest marker on The North York Moors

The present-day cross was erected in the 10th century, while the original cross dates back to 626. On the north and south sides of the cross, there are carved letters ‘G’ and ‘C’, respectively, representing the parish markers. The war memorial located in Goathland village, approximately 5 miles (8 km) from the west, replicates the Lilla Cross.

Over time, the cross became a waymarker as several paths over Lilla Howe. Especially for those travelling from Whitby and Robin Hood’s Bay to Pickering. (The path of the A169 road was not constructed until 1759.)

It marks the point where several pathways intersect and the boundaries of four parishes. It’s also a waymarker on the Lyke Wake Walk.

Location: North York Moors National Park, Pickering YO22 4QJ


Legend of Lilla Cross

Legend has it that Lilla, a loyal servant of King Edwin of Northumbria, sacrificed his life to save his master from an assassination attempt in 626. The assassin, sent by the King of the West Saxons, lunged at Edwin with a poisoned dagger. Lilla, a Christian and one of Edwin’s counsellors leapt forward to protect the King and was killed.

Standing at Lilla’s Howe, the cross marks where he was buried. According to the legend, Lilla was a devout Christian whose exemplary behaviour profoundly impacted King Edwin.

The North York Moors

Inspired by Lilla’s faith, Edwin converted to Christianity and was baptized by St. Paulinus. In gratitude for Lilla’s heroism and the spiritual awakening it had triggered. Edwin ordered that the cross be placed on Lilla’s grave as a tribute to his sacrifice.


How old is Lilla Cross?

The original cross was erected during the 7th century. However, the current cross is presumed to have been constructed around the 10th century, making it the oldest in the North York Moors.

It was first mentioned in a document related to a boundary charter in 1109, with one section referring to it as Lilla Cros, and another as Lillahou Cross. The design of the cross, along with the gold and silver found beneath it, has been noted to reflect a “post-conquest style”.

Lilla Stone Cross.

In 1952, Fylingdales Moor was transformed into a military training area, and the cross was relocated to Simon Howe to protect it from potential damage.

After the military training, the cross was reinstated to its original location. The cross is close to the warning station of RAF Fylingdales, which is on the boundary of MoD land. This proximity has resulted in a comparison between the two structures, given their proximity to each other.


Lyke Wake Walk

Challenging route | 42 miles | attempt in under 24 hours

This walk is 42 miles across the North York Moors. It starts from Scarth Wood Moor, Osmotherley and ends at Ravenscar. The name Lyke Wake Walk is derived from “lyke,” meaning corpse and “wake,” which means watching over the deceased. The route pays tribute to the many corpses carried over the moors on old coffin routes and the ancient burial mounds encountered on the way.

North York Moors Hiker.

A challenging route

This is a challenging walk, with the added challenge of completing the entire route within 24 hours. The route is undulating and exposed with steep climbs, boggy sections, and a 5-mile section on a disused railway track. The highest point is at Round Hill trig point near Botton Head (Urra Moor). 

The Lyke Wake Walk was pioneered by the late Bill Cowley in 1955. Today, the path is well-defined. Many walkers have a support team, as few facilities are on the route.

The walk has suffered from overuse and subsequent erosion in the early years when there were many completions annually. The Shepherd’s Round, a 40-mile circular walk from Scarth Nick, was devised to provide a strenuous alternative.

The North York Moors National Park addresses erosion at the Jugger Howe Beck section of the trail over moorland on access land owned by the Strickland Estate by providing a stone path. 

The Lyke Wake Walk is still popular, attracting walkers from around the world. People are drawn to the culture and rituals based on the walk and Christian and folklore traditions from the area through which it passes.

Learn more: New Lyke Wake Club.


Fylingdales and Lilla Cross Walk

Easy route | 8 miles | 3 hours

To begin the Fylingdales and Lilla Cross Walk, walk up the wide track opposite the approach road. When the track bends to the right, take a left down a signed footpath and descend towards a bridge. Once you cross the bridge, bear right and continue along the green track. Go through a kissing gate and walk up the valley, moving away from the stream and into the forest.

Fylingdale in North Yorkshire

When you reach a forest road, turn right and pass a flooded quarry on your right. At the next junction of forest roads, bear right and after about 300 yards, turn up a rough track to the left at the end of mature trees. Continue up the track, leaving the forest for moorland. Walk past the base and shaft of York Cross and turn sharp left at a junction of tracks near a waymarked post.

Follow the track, bearing left at the Foster Howes tumuli and continue with the fence on your right. Pass Ann’s Cross to your right, and after 0.5 miles, you’ll reach a T-junction. Turn right through a gate and take the next track to the left, past a howe and a concrete trig point.

Visit Lilla Cross

At a crossroads with a waymarked post, turn right along the track to visit Lilla Cross. Once you’re done, return to the crossroads and go straight ahead. Follow the path, which runs parallel to the forest edge, for 2.5 miles, eventually heading for a lone tree to the right of the wood’s end.

North York Moors overview.

When you reach a post with the number 9, take a faint grassy track that bends slightly towards the forest edge and still aims for the lone tree. Near the forest, meet a track and go almost up to the tree. At post 6 (by the remains of John Cross), go left through a gate and continue walking downhill on a track. After 150 yards, go left off the track and walk parallel with the woodland to a waymarked stile near the ruins of a building.

Go to the left of the building and ahead, parallel with the wall, to another stile. Follow the apparent footpath downhill through the bracken, go over a stile, and down the road. Finally, turn left to return to the start of the walk. Follow the entire route here.


Where should you stay in North York Moors to visit Lilla Cross?

The Inn On The Moor Hotel.

The Inn on the Moor Hotel, Goathland, is a great place to stay to visit Lilla Cross and explore the local area. The hotel’s friendly and accommodating staff will make you feel at home when you arrive. You can unwind by the cosy log fire, indulge in mouth-watering home-baked treats, or catch up with friends over a delicious meal from the carefully crafted menu.


Check out our top five picks for hotels in the North York Moors. If you’re looking for a tranquil retreat amid remote surroundings yet close enough to Whitby’s lively vibe, these hotels are perfect for your next break. We hope you have found this article helpful; you can let us know your thoughts in the comments.

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