A Trail of Memories from Circular Walks in Yorkshire and Cumbria
A record of interesting sights and notable experiences in the Yorkshire Dales, North York Moors, Lake District, Howardian Hills, North Pennines and other regions of Yorkshire and Northern England. The contents of my walking diary are shared on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, and Pinterest.
Sunlit Serenity at Ivelet Bridge, Swaledale
Friday 27 October 2023
The picturesque Ivelet Bridge gracefully arches over the River Swale in Swaledale, North Yorkshire. Just a stone’s throw from the quaint village of Gunnerside, its ancient stones are beautifully illuminated by the sunlight. This same light also softly touches the trunk of the tree standing guard beside the peaceful river.
Grateful Steps: Expressing Gratitude to Fellow Northern England Walker, Jim Haskell
Sunday 15 October 2023
Thank you to Jim Haskell from https://www.oldplodder.co.uk for recognising my work and proactively featuring my website details on his blog without any request or prompting from me.
Jim has been walking the hills and mountains of England, Scotland, and Wales since his early 20s. He worked in Kent from 1979 to 2007, and on his single weekend off each month, he would travel to various locations such as North Yorkshire, the Lake District, or North Wales to walk and camp in the hills.
Upon retirement, Jim initiated a handyman business, which he managed until moving to Crete in 2014, residing there until 2019. The Cretan summer heat restricted his walking activities, while the winter months were optimal for exploring on foot. After moving back to North Yorkshire, Jim has rejuvenated his enthusiasm for walking and backpacking across the hills, moors, and dales of Yorkshire and Cumbria.
In 1984, Jim obtained his MLTB Mountain Leader qualification. He highlights walking as a vital exercise, beneficial for maintaining both physical and mental fitness, a particularly important aspect in our often-stressful modern world.
The Ultimate Guide to Walks at Swinsty and Fewston Reservoirs
Thursday 24 August 2023
Discover the Swinsty Reservoir Circular Walk, perfect for enthusiasts of all ages. Spanning a distance of three miles, this scenic route offers tranquility and leisure.
For those just beginning or bringing along their children, the Fewston Reservoir Circular Walk is an ideal choice. Covering four miles, it’s designed to be user-friendly while still capturing the essence of the reservoir.
The Swinsty Reservoir Walk provides a lengthier experience at seven miles and allows walkers to enjoy the beauty of Fewston Reservoir en route.
Lastly, for those seeking a comprehensive experience, the Fewston Reservoir Walk spans ten miles, exploring not just the Fewston but also the vastness of the Swinsty Reservoir.
Beyond High Force: The Beauty of Bleabeck Force and its Industrial Neighbour
Friday 11 August 2023
You might already be familiar with the Low Force and High Force waterfalls on the River Tees in the North Pennines AONB, roughly 4 to 5 miles north-west of Middleton-in-Teesdale. However, if you venture just half a mile further upstream, you’ll discover a hidden gem I deeply admire called Bleabeck Force, which is formed by Blea Beck flowing from the southern hills into the River Tees. The entire area, not just the waterfall, is utterly captivating.
Directly opposite Bleabeck Force, on the north side of the River Tees, lies an intriguing, operational stone quarry that I find quite remarkable. To counteract erosion, the northern riverbanks are bolstered with substantial boulders.
Perched atop these banks, the quarry buildings loom: imposing edifices crafted from rusty corrugated iron with chutes jutting out. The striking juxtaposition of pristine nature against the imposing industry, the pure beauty of cascading waters and lush greenery versus the ruggedness of the quarry, is what makes this locale so uniquely dear to me.
High Cup Nick: A Gentle Ascent to Breathtaking Splendour
Thursday 10 August 2023
I promise you’ll thoroughly enjoy the breathtaking views from the head of the High Cup Nick valley. The valley is situated in the North Pennines, roughly 5 miles north-east of Appleby-in-Westmorland.
To reach the top of the valley, you can embark on a 4-mile walk from the village of Dufton via the Pennine Way. Although it’s predominantly uphill, the gradient remains fairly gentle throughout. Dufton offers good parking facilities.
After your walk, there’s a welcoming pub in Dufton where you can enjoy a refreshing drink. I recommend attempting this walk on a clear day with good weather. The view is truly something you won’t want to miss out on.
Gauber to Colt Park: A Bridge Over Yorkshire’s Scenic Railway
Wednesday 9 August 2023
A lovely bridge connects Gauber Road and Colt Park, crossing the Settle to Carlisle Railway in the Yorkshire Dales. When looking north-west, the line directs one’s gaze towards the majestic mountain of Whernside. Conversely, looking south-east leads the eye to the striking mountain of Pen-y-ghent. Truly, it is a wonderful bridge.
Exploring Smardale Gill: An Amazing Valley Stroll
Tuesday 8 August 2023
Smardale Gill, an appealing, steep-sided valley, can be accessed on foot from various points. You could, for example, opt for a countryside walk starting from Ravenstonedale village, or track the dismantled railway line from Newbiggin-on-Lune. Both villages are conveniently sited alongside the A685, between Kirkby Stephen and Tebay, ensuring hassle-free accessibility.
Smardale Gill plays host to a range of attractions. The majestic Smardale Gill Viaduct, fashioned from local stone, proudly showcases its 14 high arches. The 18th-century Smardale Bridge, a curved stone packhorse bridge, shares the area with a prominent old quarry and two fascinating lime kilns.
Reflections from a Graveyard Bench: A Tranquil Trek in the North York Moors
Thursday 13 July 2023
Today, my wanderings took me on a short walk from the lovely village of Castleton, in the North York Moors. I was bound for something special, something you might find a bit peculiar. My objective? To pay a visit to what is probably one of the best graveyard benches in the North York Moors, situated in the tranquil setting of St Hilda’s Church, Danby Dale.
An odd pursuit, I agree, but hear me out. There’s something truly unique about this unassuming spot. This bench, tucked away at the west end of the graveyard, may seem like any other at first glance. But sit down, take a moment, and you’ll soon understand its quiet charm. As you rest, the world opens up before you, revealing a breathtaking view of Danby Dale.
The panorama is a gentle symphony of rolling green hills, ancient dry stone walls, and quaint farmhouses, dotted with grazing sheep. It’s a place where the past meets the present, where tranquillity meets stunning vistas. It’s a place of reflection, a place to connect with nature, and a place to simply be.
The simple act of sitting there, letting the world pass by as you soak in the view, has an almost meditative quality. It brings a sense of peace and perspective. And isn’t that what we are often searching for on these treks? A moment of respite, a chance to connect, to reflect? So yes, it may sound a bit strange, but it was quite the experience. To all you wandering souls out there, I ask – do you have a favourite graveyard bench? Or a unique spot that brings you peace and makes you feel connected?
The Legend of the Three Dodds
Wednesday 12 July 2023
Get ready for a tall tale, folks! In the heart of the English Lake District, where emerald hills meet azure skies, there exists a legendary trio, known as ‘The Three Dodds’. They are Great Dodd, Watson’s Dodd and Stybarrow Dodd.
Long ago, in the murky mists of British folklore, there were three giant brothers named Great, Watson, and Stybarrow, as massive as the fells and as old as the stars themselves. Great, the oldest and the most formidable, was a stalwart protector, always standing guard over the valleys. Watson, the middle Dodd, was the wisest, offering advice to lost wanderers and weary wildlife. Stybarrow, the youngest Dodd, was a jolly prankster, known for frolicking among the ferns and causing harmless mischief.
In their long lives, the Dodd brothers grew so close to the Lake District that they quite literally became part of the scenery! One day, Great, being the defender he was, caught a glimpse of a fearsome storm brewing in the distance. Fearful for his brothers and the creatures they had come to care for, he decided to bear the brunt of the storm. He stood firm, head high, arms wide, and when the tempest came, Great Dodd took it head-on, transforming into a mighty fell, the storm’s wrath forever embedded into his stony skin.
Watson, seeing his brother’s sacrifice, chose to stand beside him, his wisdom guiding him to become another fell. His peak served as a beacon to those lost in the storm, becoming Watson’s Dodd. And Stybarrow? Well, he was a bit of a wildcard. With a mischievous twinkle in his eye, he decided to join his brothers, transforming into Stybarrow Dodd, always causing hikers to lose their maps and providing shelter to a family of stubborn Herdwicks.
Thus, the legend of ‘The Three Dodds’ was born. Even today, these fells stand tall and proud, a testament to the enduring bond of brotherhood. They provide solace and adventure to every traveler lucky enough to grace their trails. Now it’s your turn! Walk in the footsteps of the Dodds and experience their legendary journey yourself. Feel the magic and be part of this epic story on the Great Dodd Walk.
Delights of the Esk Valley: A Journey from Danby to Castleton
Thursday 29 June 2023
A few days back, I embarked on a little jaunt along a tiny portion of the Esk Valley Walk, a delightful stroll that stretches between the villages of Danby and Castleton. The entire route was approximately 3½ miles, there and back, on a lovely sun-kissed day in the heart of our delightful North York Moors countryside.
My adventure began in the village of Danby, a place that whispers history in every corner. I made sure to have a look at Danby Methodist Church before setting off. The church, a relic from 1811, boasts an extension called the Victoria Jubilee School, a tribute added in 1887 to mark the golden jubilee of Queen Victoria. No sooner had I stepped out of the village than I was greeted by the breathtaking vistas of Danby Dale, cradled within the arms of Danby High Moor. The River Esk was quietly going about its business below, carving its lazy trail through Esk Dale.
My journey soon led me along a lush grassy path towards Danby Park. And when I say ‘grassy,’ I mean this path was so well-kept, you’d think a groundsman from Lord’s had been tending to it with a lawn mower and roller. Before I knew it, I found myself in Danby Park, a sanctuary of Silver Birch woodland. The trees stretched upwards to create a light, airy canopy, allowing the sunlight to dance on the bark, making it shimmer and glisten.
The bracken was standing tall, strong, and oh-so-green, a sight so vivid that it was even greener than the nugget of purest green discovered by Lord Percy in Blackadder II. Every now and then, small gaps in the foliage offered sneak peeks of High Castleton, perched on the hillside. I couldn’t help but feel a tinge of envy for the fortunate individuals residing there; the views from their living rooms must be something extraordinary! And just like that, my little adventure came to an end. I retraced my steps, once again enjoying the beauty of it all, but in reverse. It was an afternoon well spent.
Conquering Helvellyn: The Thrill and Beauty of the Thirlmere Route
Wednesday 28 June 2023
Helvellyn sits on a stunning north-south mountain range which effectively separates the waters of Thirlmere and Ullswater in the Lake District. The majority of walkers seeking to conquer Helvellyn’s peak probably journey from Glenridding, which is situated on the eastern side of the Helvellyn range, near the southernmost point of Ullswater.
The traditional path to the summit crosses either Striding Edge or Swirral Edge, offering breath-taking views, including those down to Red Tarn. However, these routes come with their fair share of exposure, a thrill not desired by everyone. For those seeking a more tranquil ascent without the edginess, don’t worry! Multiple paths can lead you to this mighty summit, each offering a unique perspective.
I have recently outlined one of my favourite routes to Helvellyn on my website. This route originates from the western side of the mountain range, Thirlmere. Despite the steep climb, it avoids the nerve-wracking exposure that the Edges are famous for. In my opinion, this route provides some of the most spectacular views in the Lake District, offering a bird’s-eye view of Thirlmere that is truly unparalleled. So, the next time you plan to don your hiking boots, why not consider the Thirlmere route to Helvellyn?
A Riverside Ramble: From Egton Bridge to Grosmont and Back
Thursday 22 June 2023
Feeling the need for peace and quiet, I embark on one of my favourite North York Moors short rambles. A modest trek, just shy of 2 miles each way, unravels over a span of two leisurely hours. This journey is truly inclusive, welcoming walkers of all levels and bright-eyed children alike. From the quaint village of Egton Bridge, the path, a picturesque segment of the Esk Valley Walk, heads towards Grosmont. With no hills to climb, the trail is a friendly stone track, tracing the meandering course of the River Esk.
Ten minutes in, an intriguing spectacle grabs my attention. A tree, leaning at a ridiculous 60° angle, challenges gravity with a defiance that puts the Leaning Tower of Pisa to shame! Each time I pass it, I wonder, how much longer will it hold on before finally bowing to the River Esk? Further along, the charming Beckside Farm reveals itself. An endearing little wooden shelter harbours an array of refreshments – canned pop, bottled water, canisters of Pringles, even fresh eggs for just £1. Amusingly, in a sign of our modern increasingly cashless society, a hand-written note discloses the seller’s bank details for easy payment transfer.
Next, history whispers from the wall of the Toll Cottage, where a sign reads “BARNARDS ROAD TOLL”. A quaint reminder of a bygone era, it lists the olden day toll charges from 1948 for all types of vehicles. A horse and cart cost 4 pence, a tractor a shilling! A railway bridge beckons next, number MBW2/89. Perhaps unremarkable at first glance, but on a rainy day, it offers a welcoming respite and a perfect spot to pause for a hot cuppa from the flask. And it heralds the midpoint of the journey to Grosmont!
Rounding the bend, a footbridge offers a bird’s eye view of the River Esk. There’s one of those depth markers. On calm days, the river’s depth at the ford is merely inches, though I’ve seen it surge to the 6-feet mark. As Grosmont nears, the village’s sports field comes into view. With comfortable seats dotting the perimeter, it’s an idyllic spot to enjoy some quintessential English village cricket on a summer Saturday.
And finally, the heart of the journey, Grosmont Railway Station. An enchanting hub for the North Yorkshire Moors Railway steam trains. The shrill whistle, the puffing steam, the rhythmic chug; it’s a sight to behold and a sound to savour. The station teems with life, yet exudes a profound serenity. Once I’ve soaked in all that Grosmont has to offer, it’s time to retrace my steps back to Egton Bridge, revisiting the joys of the journey along the way. Each walk is a familiar adventure, yet always offers a fresh perspective.
Countryside Adventure: A Dusty Trail between Commondale and Castleton
Wednesday 21 June 2023
Just popped back from my jaunt in the North York Moors. My path today? A dusty, stone-strewn track stretching between the villages of Commondale and Castleton, in the north-west of the North York Moors National Park, just a stone’s throw from Guisborough. The day was hot, with the sun beaming down but a moderate breeze kept things comfortable.
The countryside was a painting, filled with a myriad of vibrant hues today. The deep blue sky was stippled with white, fluffy clouds, over the verdant green tapestry of the bracken, trees, open meadows, farmland, and hayfields. The beige path was lined with an ancient stone wall and I spotted an aged barn, roofless and forgotten.
This year’s lambs, now a few weeks old, are slightly losing their early cuteness, yet their voices, still soft and unbroken, are bleating a gentle ‘baa’ that never fails to bring a smile to my face. Nestled in the valley below, a single railway line runs alongside the bubbling Commondale Beck. Every so often, a modern-day passenger train whizzes past, its sleek form a stark contrast to the timeless landscape that cradles it. What a marvellous spot indeed!
Discover the Castle Howard Oak: A Timeless Sentinel of the Howardian Hills
Wednesday 14 June 2023
Unveiling the Majestic Behemoth of Castle Howard! This grand oak, deeply rooted in the Howardian Hills, is not just a tree, but a timeless sentinel, gracefully standing tall for over 400 years. A piece of living history that whispers tales of the Shakespearean era!
A mere photo does not do justice to its splendour! Its branches sprawl out like nature’s own cathedral, each leaf a testament to its ancient wisdom. Its sheer size has the power to humble any observer, reminding us of nature’s enduring strength and resilience. We discovered this natural marvel on our Castle Howard walk meandering through Coneysthorpe, Kirkham Priory, and on to Welburn. Each step surrounded by nature’s beauty, with the unforgettable oak as the crown jewel.
From Commondale to Danby: An Enchanting North York Moors Afternoon Stroll
Friday 9 June 2023
As a devoted walker, I find my stride in all-day excursions. But when time grants me only a few hours, usually in the afternoon, I have a favourite local route that never disappoints. My trek begins in Commondale and ends in Danby, nestled within the beautiful North York Moors. The trail, largely, winds along the north side of the Commondale-Castleton-Danby portion of the Esk Valley railway line.
This straightforward ‘there and back’ linear route covers around 4 miles each way. The first leg of the journey stretches between Commondale and Castleton, along a manageable stone track with gentle undulations. There’s a bench here that I’m fond of, a perfect spot that offers panoramic views of the valley below. The second half of the trek takes me from Castleton to Danby along the Esk Valley Walk. These comfortable paths can sometimes be a touch muddy, injecting a bit of fun and adventure into the walk.
The trail winds through the mesmerising Danby Park, a sanctuary of Silver Birch woodland. The shimmering silver bark of the birch trees glows in the sunlight, while their airy canopy dapples the forest floor below. It’s a calming scene that always captures my imagination. Upon reaching Danby, I find an abundance of places to rest my legs and catch my breath. I always relish a hot cup of coffee from my trusty flask, savoured amidst the tranquil village.
The Legend of the Giant of High Street and the Creation of Blea Water
Sunday 4 June 2023
Attention, attention! Gather around for a tale as old as time! Thousands of years ago, atop the lofty High Street mountain in the enchanting Lake District, a giant roamed free and wild. Now, you must understand, this was no ordinary giant. This mammoth creature had a peculiar obsession – ironing his shirts to a crisp!
However, this was no easy task due to the fickle English weather. One day, while he was zealously engaged in this therapeutic activity, a pesky gust of wind blew in, knocking his ironing board over! The giant’s iron, big enough to make even the most formidable weightlifters quiver in their boots, plummeted down from the mountain, creating a titanic impact. The ground shuddered, and a massive crater was formed right there and then!
And here comes the incredible part: This crater filled with water over the years, giving birth to what we now know as Blea Water. And guess what? It’s iron-shaped! Behold the photo proof of this remarkable natural phenomenon. Do you see the striking resemblance? It’s uncanny, isn’t it? No iron has ever left such an impression (literally and figuratively)!
So, next time you’re at Blea Water, remember to spare a thought for our iron-loving giant, whose laundry mishap gifted us this beautiful lake. May your clothes always be wrinkle-free, giant of High Street! Remember, folks: nature works in mysterious ways, sometimes even disguising as a giant’s laundry day!
Hill Top Laithe, Cracoe, Yorkshire Dales: An Ode to the Solitary Ash Tree
Thursday 9 February 2023
An ash tree stands alone in a farmer’s field near the village of Cracoe, in the rugged landscape of the Yorkshire Dales. It is at the mercy of the unforgiving winds and harsh weather that sweep across the open countryside beneath the steep slopes of Cracoe Fell. The tree is bent double – a testament to the relentless force of the winds that have battered it for years.
Despite its struggles, the ash tree’s smaller branches and twigs reach up towards the skies, as if searching for respite from the punishing winds. But the tree looks sad and lonely in the field, a solitary figure in a landscape that seems to have forgotten it. I’m not sure whether the ash tree is still alive; its hollow trunk and weathered appearance suggest that it may have given up the fight. The base of its trunk seems to have no substance, leaving me to wonder how it still stands.
The History of the Arkengarthdale Wagon in Langthwaite, Yorkshire Dales
Wednesday 8 February 2023
In the 19th century, wagons similar to the Arkengarthdale Wagon were used to transport lead ore and waste materials from the subterranean mines of the Yorkshire Dales. These wagons, which were hauled by horses, travelled along iron rails. Today, some of these rails can still be seen in a few of the old mines.
Lead mining in this area has a long history that can be traced back to Roman times. However, it wasn’t until the early 18th century that the mining of lead became a commercial venture. The mines situated in Arkengarthdale were initially owned by Dr John Bathurst and were subsequently operated by his descendants under the corporate banner of the C.B. Company.
The Historical Significance of the Church of St Mary & St Lawrence, Rosedale Abbey, North Yorkshire
Friday 27 January 2023
A Cistercian Priory once stood on this North York Moors site at Rosedale Abbey. All that is left today is a staircase turret, a sundial and a single stone pillar. Founded in 1158 or earlier, the priory was inhabited by a small group of nuns who are credited with being the first people to farm sheep commercially in the region.
The Beggar’s Bridge of Glaisdale: A Testament to Love and History in the North York Moors
Monday 23 January 2023
In the heart of Glaisdale within the North York Moors, the Beggar’s Bridge stands as an enduring monument from an era when horse-power and foot travel were the primary modes of transportation. It is a ‘packhorse’ bridge, its design characterised by a low parapet, purposefully constructed to allow horses carrying fully laden panniers to cross without touching the sides.
Enveloping this historic structure is an enduring legend of young love thwarted by circumstance. The tale recounts the story of Tom Ferres, the son of a humble sheep farmer, and Agnes Richardson, the daughter of a prosperous Glaisdale landowner. Their love was discouraged due to the stark divide in their social status – Tom’s poverty.
In his pursuit of fortune and a better life, Tom decided to embark on a seafaring journey. On the eve of his departure, he endeavoured to cross the River Esk to bid his beloved Agnes a farewell. However, the swollen river stymied his efforts, and he was compelled to depart without the opportunity to share a parting kiss.
Contrary to the fiction often woven around historical figures, Tom Ferres – alternatively spelled Ferris – was indeed a real person. In 1588, he set sail from Whitby and served under the famed Sir Francis Drake’s navy. After four adventurous years, he returned to England aboard a captured ship, which he subsequently sold. With his newly acquired wealth, Tom married his sweetheart Agnes and established a lucrative shipping enterprise in Hull. He ascended the societal ladder, serving as sheriff in 1614, mayor in 1620, and even thrice as the Warden of Trinity House. His life journey concluded in 1630 at the age of 62, and his memorial resides in the Holy Trinity Church in Hull.
Adding another layer to the poignant story of the Beggar’s Bridge, it is believed that Tom commissioned the construction of this bridge in 1619. It was possibly conceived as a memorial to his dearly departed Agnes, who had passed away just a year earlier. Today, the bridge stands as a tribute not just to Agnes, but also to their enduring love story and the resilient spirit of an era long past.
Unveiling the Historic Transition in Grosmont: From Horse-Drawn Carriages to Steam Locomotives
Wednesday 18 January 2023
Nestled within the North York Moors, the village of Grosmont holds a vital position on the iconic Whitby to Pickering railway line. This significant line, meticulously constructed by the esteemed George Stephenson, was inaugurated over its complete length on the 26 May 1836.
At the southern end of the village, a pair of adjacent railway tunnels captures one’s attention. The earliest and smaller of these tunnels witnessed the passage of the first carriages, drawn by horses and carrying a capacity of up to 10 passengers.
However, the advent of steam locomotives in 1847 heralded a pivotal shift in railway construction and design. The new era of locomotives demanded more expansive tunnels and robust bridges to accommodate their grander size and increased weight. Consequently, this technological advancement led to the erection and subsequent use of a second, larger tunnel, which is currently used for the passage of modern rail lines.
Thus, Grosmont’s railway tunnels, both the smaller and the larger, symbolise a fascinating timeline of Britain’s railway evolution – from the humble beginnings of horse-drawn carriages to the might of steam-powered locomotives.
Investigating the Historic Railway Village of Grosmont in the North York Moors
Tuesday 17 January 2023
Located within the heart of North York Moors, Grosmont proudly sits on the historical railway line stretching from Whitby to Pickering. This monumental engineering achievement was constructed under the astute direction of George Stephenson, marking its full completion on the 26 May 1836.
Intriguingly, nestled to the south of the village, one can find a pair of adjacent railway tunnels. The smaller, older tunnel has been repurposed to serve as a pedestrian route, providing a pathway towards the North York Moors Railway engine sheds.
Constructed between 1833 and 1835, this tunnel carries the honour of being a Grade II listed building. At 130 yards long, 14 feet high, and 10 feet wide, it is an impressive testament to the engineering feats of the era. Moreover, it holds a distinctive place in history as one of the world’s first passenger railway tunnels. In its early days, horse-drawn carriages carrying up to 10 passengers would traverse this subterranean route.
The striking, castellated design of the tunnel can be attributed to Frederick Swanwick, George Stephenson’s then 22-year-old assistant. Despite Swanwick’s innovative aesthetics, his design was viewed as overly extravagant by the directors. His ambitious vision resulted in his censure, the directors believing that the sophisticated design was an unnecessary financial expenditure.
Exploring the Remnants of Ironstone Mining in the Murk Esk Valley
Monday 16 January 2023
I find myself in the picturesque Murk Esk valley, situated between Grosmont and Goathland on a another walking exploration of the North York Moors. In a field by the side of the Rail Trail public footpath are some strange heaps of disfigured black rock. These are remnants of ironstone, a vestige of the once-thriving Murkside Mines located nearby.
The mines, opened by the Victorians in the late 1850s, were renowned for their rich ironstone deposits. To make the ironstone more suitable for transportation, it was customary to roast these rocks in the open air. This process served to eliminate impurities and significantly reduce their weight.
However, the disfigured pile I am observing tells a different story. It appears that these ironstone chunks may have been overheated during the roasting process, resulting in their transformation into unusable, fused lumps of ironstone and waste. Such mishaps were costly, rendering the valuable iron within the stone unusable.
These spoiled treasures, consequently abandoned and exposed to the mercy of the elements, serve as a poignant reminder of the region’s rich industrial heritage. These once-prized commodities now silently witness the passage of time, their story a testament to the imperfections inherent in the pursuit of progress.
The Tale of North Bridge: An Intersection of Nature and Industry on the Grosmont to Goathland Rail Trail
Sunday 15 January 2023
North Bridge, in the North York Moors, is a historically significant point along the Grosmont to Goathland Rail Trail. For the past two centuries, this site, where the Murk Esk river meets human endeavour, has been a remarkable theatre for the contest between nature and industry.
Though the prevailing tranquillity of the surroundings implies that nature has won the long-standing battle, subtle remnants of the Victorian railway era still dot the landscape. As you cross the bubbling river, these signs of yesteryears make their presence felt, revealing how they once shaped the very fabric of the Murk Esk valley.
The origin of the railway line connecting Whitby to Pickering is marked by the humble beginnings of horse-drawn carriages. However, an ambition to advance the service precipitated the need for upgraded infrastructure. As a result, in 1845, a sturdy stone bridge was erected here, designed to support the weight of heavier steam engines that were meant to revolutionise the railway line.
However, the Murk Esk river, known for its unpredictable and sometimes destructive floods, had other plans. In a decisive turn of events, the powerful torrents washed away the meticulously built bridge. The only surviving elements of this once magnificent structure are its walls and abutments, which can still be observed today.
In place of the stone bridge, a timber alternative was introduced. But it too fell victim to the destructive forces of nature during the catastrophic floods in the early 1930s. Two steel-tipped, pointed posts that once served as foundational supports for this bridge are now simply horizontal bystanders along the path.
Ever since these episodes of natural onslaught, the river crossing here has been maintained by pedestrian footbridges alone, a testament to the indomitable force of water. North Bridge, with its rich history and blend of natural and industrial elements, thus remains an intriguing point of interest along the Grosmont to Goathland Rail Trail.
Check Out the Unique Beauty of the Murk Esk on the North York Moors
Saturday 14 January 2023
I find myself standing on a pedestrian footbridge that spans the Murk Esk, which beautifully meanders its way between the charming villages of Grosmont and Beck Hole within the landscapes of the North York Moors.
One should resist the temptation to judge a river by its colour, especially when it comes to the unique character of the Murk Esk. Its curious hue, reminiscent of a rich brown, peaty palette, is largely due to its path that absorbs run-off from expansive stretches of peat moorland.
Although the name and appearance might suggest otherwise, this does not compromise the river’s purity. In fact, the water quality is often excellent, making this waterway a thriving ecosystem teeming with wildlife.
The Legacy of Rosedale Ironstone Kilns: An Industrial Giant in the North York Moors
Saturday 2 April 2022
Nestled above the Rosedale valley, in the North York Moors, stand the weathered remnants of the once grand Rosedale Ironstone Kilns. These towering stone structures were the pulsing heart of an extensive industrial complex dedicated to ironstone mining.
The commencement of operations at Rosedale’s East Mines in 1864 marked the beginning of a remarkable era in the area’s industrial history. A significant development followed in 1865 with the completion of a branch railway to Blakey Junction, thereby connecting the kilns with wider transportation networks.
The towering kilns served a pivotal function within the ironstone processing chain. Before the ironstone was deemed suitable for blast furnaces, it was subjected to roasting within these enormous structures. This crucial procedure involved purging impurities from the raw material, enhancing the iron content, and breaking down larger ironstone chunks to a more manageable size for smelting. The removal and disposal of waste during this stage played a crucial role in minimising transportation costs, which, intriguingly, could amount to nearly a third of the total price of the delivered ore.
Feeding these colossal kilns was a task of its own. Ironstone from the mines was hauled to the top of the kilns and tipped in from above. The subsequent roasting process, known as calcining, transformed the stone. Workers, tasked with the daunting job of shifting the calcined stone from the kilns into iron wagons, used long, heavy metal rakes for this purpose. The calcine men, as they were called, performed what was arguably the most challenging and least desirable work on site.
The haunting ruins of the Rosedale Ironstone Kilns provide an eerily silent contrast to the relentless, booming activity of the site’s operational days. For over sixty years, the area was immersed in a sensory barrage of thick smoke, noise from the bustling kilns and nearby mines, the shouts of workers, and the ceaseless clatter and rattle of trains and carts. The ruins now stand as silent testament to a nearly forgotten world of industry and endeavour.
Exploring the Rich History of Ribblehead Viaduct in Ribblesdale, Yorkshire Dales
Thursday 20 January 2022
Nestled beneath the towering arches of the Ribblehead Viaduct in Ribblesdale, within the Yorkshire Dales National Park, a poignant silver plaque is affixed to one side of a stone statue near the viaduct’s base. This notable memorial encapsulates a fascinating historical tableau – a symbolic handshake between a 19th-century navvy and a 20th-century engineer.
The construction of the Ribblehead Viaduct is a story steeped in history, hardship and human endurance. Initiated in the latter months of 1869, the project commanded a formidable workforce of approximately 2300 men, primarily navvies. These labourers resided in makeshift shanty towns established close to the viaduct’s foundations, enduring harsh conditions to bring this architectural marvel to life.
By the conclusion of 1874, the final stone had been ceremoniously set in place. However, the monument’s completion came at a hefty human cost, with the lives of over a hundred men lost during the course of construction.
In November 1988, the Ribblehead Viaduct received official recognition for its historical and architectural significance and was consequently Grade II listed. The surrounding land, punctuated by the remnants of the construction camps, has also been commemorated as a scheduled monument.
Between 1990 and 1992, the viaduct underwent a substantial restoration project, reaffirming its presence as an enduring emblem of the past and testament to human endeavour. Today, it continues to stand as an indelible mark of history in the Yorkshire Dales.
Scaling the Heights: An Exploration of the Yorkshire Dales’ Highest Peaks
Wednesday 19 January 2022
At the top of Whernside in the Yorkshire Dales, I am surrounded by the grandeur of the hills and mountains. It’s worth noting that within the captivating landscape of the Yorkshire Dales, there are only seven mountains that ascend beyond the lofty height of 700 metres.
- Whernside, 736 metres (2415 feet)
- Ingleborough, 724 metres (2375 feet)
- Great Shunner Fell, 716 metres (2349 feet)
- High Seat, 709 metres (2326 feet)
- Wild Boar Fell, 708 metres (2323 feet)
- Great Whernside, 704 metres (2310 feet)
- Buckden Pike, 702 metres (2303 feet)
Discovering Rosedale Valley’s Atmospheric Phenomenon: The Inescapable Fog
Saturday 15 January 2022
Here I stand, on the abandoned Rosedale Railway that overlooks the picturesque Rosedale valley in the heart of the North York Moors. An unusual sight unfolds before my eyes – the valley is shrouded in a dense layer of fog that appears trapped within its boundaries.
This seemingly perpetual fog is an intriguing meteorological occurrence. In the cold, the air tends to grow denser and descends into the valley, where it undergoes condensation to form the pervasive fog. From my vantage point on higher terrain, where the air is notably warmer and lighter, I am safely distanced from the misty shroud below. The scene feels almost surreal, a curious dance of nature played out in the serene landscape of the Rosedale valley.
Exploring Easby Abbey: A Tranquil Journey into England’s Past
Sunday 28 November 2021
My affinity for Easby Abbey in Easby, Richmondshire, Northern England, is profound. The serene ruins of this 12th-century establishment lie just a mile from Richmond’s bustling town centre. This historic gem can be accessed via picturesque paths that run on both sides of the River Swale, inviting travellers to soak in the timeless beauty of the area.
The Vibrant Majesty of the River Swale’s Waterfalls in Richmond, Northern England
Saturday 27 November 2021
Currently amidst the compelling spectacle of the waterfalls in Richmond town centre, North Yorkshire, I am privy to the breathtaking force of the River Swale. This water body is celebrated as England’s fastest-flowing river.
In the aftermath of heavy rainfall, the river often assumes a golden brown hue. This vivid spectacle is caused by the absorption of peat from the expansive moorlands of the Yorkshire Dales.
Unwind at Bellow Hill, Hardraw Village Centre, Yorkshire Dales
Thursday 10 June 2021
After a scenic circular walk in Yorkshire featuring Great Shunner Fell, Butter Tubs, and Fossdale, it’s time to take a breather at Bellow Hill, situated above Hardraw village centre in the Yorkshire Dales. I rest upon the exquisitely crafted wooden memorial bench, which offers unparalleled views of the quaint village. Its comforting design and the charm of its location make it an optimal spot to relax and absorb the surroundings.
Experience with Peafowls at West House, Simonstone, Hardraw, Yorkshire Dales
Thursday 10 June 2021
During my walk past West House, located in the picturesque landscape of Simonstone, Hardraw, within the breathtaking Yorkshire Dales, I was treated to an extraordinary spectacle. As I ambled through the farm, a male peacock decided to display his vibrant, iridescent tail feathers, a show typically performed during the mating season.
Male peafowls, or peacocks, are renowned for their elaborate trains of shimmering feathers, which they fan out and rattle in a captivating dance intended to draw a mate’s attention. This striking display of nature’s flamboyance is a sight to behold, with each tail fan boasting a multitude of eyespots that are as intriguing as they are beautiful.
Remarkably, scientists in the United States have employed advanced eye-tracking technology to decipher the mystery behind the allure of a peacock’s tail fan. According to their studies, the female peafowls, known as peahens, seem to scrutinise the tail fan’s width through side-to-side eye movements. Moreover, these studies have highlighted that the peahens are particularly drawn to the remarkable eyespots adorning the feathers, signifying the important role these distinct markings play in peafowl courtship.
The Geological Wonders of Butter Tubs in the Yorkshire Dales
Thursday 10 June 2021
I am currently embarking on another one of my circular walks in Yorkshire. Today, I find myself at a fascinating location known as Butter Tubs, situated along Cliff Gate Road between Hardraw and Thwaite in the Yorkshire Dales. Here, nature has crafted a remarkable geological spectacle over thousands of years.
The unique features of Butter Tubs can be attributed to the gradual erosion caused by slightly acidic water on the 325-million-year-old Carboniferous limestone rock. This ongoing process has given rise to peculiar shafts with distinctively fluted edges. Rainwater seeps into the natural cracks, faults, and joints present in the rock. As time passes, these tiny crevices grow larger, evolving into the vertical shafts or potholes that we marvel at today.
Some of these potholes are truly awe-inspiring, reaching depths of up to 24 meters. Even more fascinating is the fact that these formations are still expanding as water continues to trickle into them. Each droplet contributes to the gradual enlargement of these geological wonders, shaping them over the course of countless years.
Discovering Hidden Charms on a Minor Road in Wescoe, Lake District
Saturday 17 April 2021
Situated on a minor road to the north-west of Wescoe in the Lake District, an encounter with an ancient tree offers a moment of charming surprise. Upon closer inspection, this venerable trunk reveals an unexpected resident – a teddy bear, clad in a green jumper, nestled among the gnarled bark.
The road, largely defined by a sentinel-like row of ancient trees, tells its own tale of resilience and rebirth. Despite their age and seeming lifelessness, these trees continue to astound with their defiant sprouting of young branches and twigs. They stand as testaments to enduring life, accentuating the landscape with a profound sense of history and natural continuity.
Exploring the Skiddaw Mountain Range in the Lake District
Saturday 17 April 2021
Venturing through the Skiddaw mountain range in the Lake District, I’m en route to the pinnacle of Skiddaw. About a mile to the south-east of Little Man, paragliders adorn the south-western flanks of the mountain range. The backdrop is nothing short of picturesque; Keswick and Derwent Water sprawl out in the distance, their beauty accentuated by the imposing silhouettes of the other Lake District mountains.
Exploring The Moors National Park Centre in Danby, North York Moors
Tuesday 6 April 2021
I am currently at The Moors National Park Centre, Danby Lodge, Danby, within the picturesque North York Moors. Although it is a sunny day, the strong winds and chilly temperatures make it necessary for me to don a coat and hat. It’s quite remarkable that even in early April, the weather demands these extra layers of protection. Adding to the scenic charm, some of the hills in the North York Moors are adorned with a light dusting of snow.
Managed Heather Burning in Muggleswick Park, County Durham, North Pennines
Monday 5 April 2021
Nestled within the North Pennines of County Durham, Muggleswick Park serves as a dramatic backdrop, showcasing a landscape akin to a moonscape on its Stony Hill, largely due to the surrounding burnt heather. Managed heather burning, a prevalent practice here, typically transpires during the winter and early spring. The strategic timing of this exercise ensures that it takes place when ground-nesting birds are absent, and the soil maintains a generally damp state.
Exploring the Magic of Muggleswick Park in County Durham, North Pennines
Sunday 4 April 2021
Finding myself immersed in the tranquil beauty of Muggleswick Park, located in County Durham within the rugged terrain of the North Pennines, has been a unique experience. In this serene environment, one can’t help but marvel at the remarkable landmarks nestled within the landscape.
Feast your eyes on this striking image of The Three Curricks, set against the splendid backdrop of the Derwent Reservoir. ‘Currick’ is a term originating from Cumbria, referring to what is more generally identified as a cairn. This age-old structure, essentially a man-made mound of stones, has served for centuries as a beacon, guiding wayfarers on their journeys across these lands.
The Serene Beauty of Muggleswick Park: A Snapshot of a North Pennines’ Gem
Saturday 3 April 2021
Located in the stunning North Pennines, Muggleswick Park in County Durham today provides a breathtaking view north-west towards the expansive Derwent Reservoir. On the left-hand side of this panorama, one can observe the quaint village of Edmundbyers. The reservoir, a key landmark, was inaugurated in 1967 and stands as one of the largest inland bodies of water in England, boasting a substantial capacity of 11,000 million gallons.
A Picturesque Rest Stop on the Waskerley Way in County Durham
Friday 2 April 2021
Situated in the heart of the North Pennines in County Durham lies Whitehall Moss. A particular highlight of this area is an enchanting S-shaped seating area, conveniently positioned alongside the now disused Waskerley Way railway line. This peaceful rest stop is located approximately a mile east of Smiddy Shaw Reservoir. Waskerley is just visible in the background, on the horizon on the far left of the picture.
Exploring the North York Moors: A Stop at Sleightholme Dale and the Yellow Skunk Cabbage Discovery
Tuesday 30 March 2021
While embarking on a circular walk in the North York Moors, I find myself pausing at the captivating Sleightholme Dale. This location is snugly tucked away beside Hodge Beck, near Penny Holme in the North York Moors. A notable discovery here is the yellow skunk cabbage (Lysichiton americanus).
Also known as the western skunk cabbage, American skunk-cabbage, or swamp lantern, this intriguing plant is typically found in the company of swamps and wet woodlands, nestled comfortably along streams. Its moniker, ‘skunk cabbage’, is derived from the distinctive ‘skunky’ aroma it exudes upon flowering.
Appreciating the Passage of LNER K1 62005 Along the Esk Valley Railway
Monday 29 March 2021
From a vantage point above the Esk Valley Railway, between the quaint stations of Commondale and Castleton in the North York Moors, I savour the sight and sound of the passing steam locomotive. My perch is a bench, where I sit with a warming cup of coffee in hand, indulging in the panoramic view of the idyllic landscape.
Steam locomotive 62005, an exemplary model of the LNER K1 series, punctuates the serene atmosphere as it courses through the valley. This majestic piece of machinery is a testament to Britain’s railway heritage. The locomotive was designed by the London and North Eastern Railway, an establishment renowned for its contributions to the rail industry.
This specific model, built by the North British Locomotive Company, came to life in their Queen’s Park Works, located in Glasgow. It was here that the locomotive was meticulously crafted, reflecting the pinnacle of engineering prowess of its time. In June 1949, it was delivered to British Railways, a fledgeling company then, thereby marking a significant milestone in the history of British steam locomotives.
Discovering the Splendour of Danby Park in the North York Moors
Sunday 28 March 2021
Here I am, nestled between the quaint villages of Danby and Castleton, immersed in the serene atmosphere of Danby Park, situated in the heart of the North York Moors. A striking element of this scenic landscape is the prominent presence of the Silver Birch trees. With their distinctive silvery-white bark, they remain one of the most recognisable features throughout the winter months, even when they stand bereft of leaves.
Upon closer observation, one will notice the remarkable texture of the bark in older birch trees. The lower section of the trunk displays a thick and deeply fissured texture, contrasting with the smooth bark found higher up. A unique pattern of black diamond shapes often develops on this smooth upper surface, adding another distinguishing characteristic to this beautiful tree species. Such features not only aid in their identification but also contribute significantly to the visual charm of this picturesque woodland.
Discovering the Silver Birch Woodland in Danby Park
Saturday 27 March 2021
Nestled between the charming villages of Danby and Castleton, within the North York Moors, lies the enchanting Danby Park woodland. This serene location is predominantly populated by Silver Birch (Betula pendula) trees, presenting a remarkable sight for visitors.
Characteristically slender and fast-growing, Silver Birch trees can reach impressive heights of approximately 30 metres. This towering stature forms a light and airy canopy, contributing significantly to the overall beauty and atmosphere of the woodland. Its subtle and captivating allure promises an unforgettable experience for all nature enthusiasts.
Observing Fomes Fomentarius at Danby Park in the North York Moors
Friday 26 March 2021
I find myself situated amidst the verdant expanse of Danby Park, nestled between the picturesque locales of Danby and Castleton, within the expansive North York Moors. It is here that I have chanced upon an intriguing specimen, the Fomes fomentarius, also known as the hoof fungus, quietly proliferating on the stump of a Silver Birch tree.
This species is colloquially referred to by a myriad of names including tinder fungus, false tinder fungus, tinder conk, tinder polypore, and ice man fungus. With its distinctive horse’s hoof shape, it is not difficult to understand the etymology of its common names. Remarkably, it chooses birch trees as its preferred host, entering its system through the fissures in the bark. Once ensconced, it embarks on its lifecycle, providing an intriguing spectacle for any passerby lucky enough to spot it.