Memories of Yorkshire Dales walks, North York Moors hikes, Lake District climbs and Yorkshire Coast strolls

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 this walking diary are shared on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr and Pinterest.

Saturday 28 January 2023
Hill Top Laithe, Cracoe
Yorkshire Dales

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.

Wednesday 8 February 2023
Arkengarthdale Wagon, Langthwaite
Yorkshire Dales

In the 19th century, wagons like these were utilised to move lead ore and waste from the underground mines in the Yorkshire Dales. These wagons were drawn by horses and ran on rails made of iron, which are still visible in some of the old mines today. The practice of lead mining in the area dates back to Roman times, but it wasn’t until the early 18th century that commercial mining started. The mines in Arkengarthdale were owned by Dr John Bathurst and later operated by his descendants under the name C.B. Company.

Friday 27 January 2023
The Church of St Mary & St Lawrence, Rosedale Abbey
North York Moors

A Cistercian Priory once stood on this 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.

Monday 23 January 2023
Beggar’s Bridge, Glaisdale
North York Moors

Beggar’s Bridge is a survivor from a time when horse-power and walking were the main modes of transport. It is a ‘packhorse’ bridge, designed with a low parapet to allow horses with fully laden panniers to cross without touching the sides.

Legend has it that young lovers Tom Ferres, son of a poor sheep farmer, and Agnes Richardson, daughter of a wealthy Glaisdale landowner, were prevented from marrying because of Tom’s poverty. Leaving to seek his fortune at sea, Tom tried in vain to cross the flooded River Esk to meet Agnes on the eve of his departure. He left without a farewell kiss.

In truth, Tom Ferres, or Ferris, did exist. He sailed from Whitby in 1588, served in Sir Francis Drake’s navy and returned to England four years later on a captured ship, which he sold. He married Agnes and established a shipping business in Hull where he became sheriff in 1614, mayor in 1620, and three times Warden of Trinity House. He died in 1630, aged 62. His memorial is in the Holy Trinity Church in Hull. He had the bridge built in 1619, probably as a memorial to Agnes, who had died a year earlier.

Wednesday 18 January 2023
The village of Grosmont
North York Moors

Grosmont lies on the Whitby to Pickering railway line, which was built by George Stephenson and opened over its full length on 26 May 1836. There are two adjacent railway tunnels to the south of the village.

The first carriages to run through the earlier, smaller tunnel were pulled by horses and carried up to 10 people. But with the introduction of steam locomotives in 1847, tunnels had to be taller and wider, and bridges had to be stronger to accommodate the bigger and heavier vehicles. Hence the construction and subsequent use of the second tunnel through which the current line now passes.

Tuesday 17 January 2023
The village of Grosmont
North York Moors

Grosmont lies on the Whitby to Pickering railway line, which was built by George Stephenson and opened over its full length on 26 May 1836. There are two adjacent railway tunnels to the south of the village. This earlier, smaller tunnel is now used as a pedestrian route through to the North York Moors Railway engine sheds.

Built between 1833 and 1835, it is a Grade 2 listed building, 130 yards long, 14 feet high and 10 feet wide. It was one of the world’s first passenger railway tunnels, and carriages containing up to 10 people would have been pulled by horses. The castellated design of the tunnel was left to George Stephenson’s assistant, 22-year-old Frederick Swanwick. He was censured by directors for making it too fancy and thus wasting money.

Monday 16 January 2023
The Murk Esk valley between Grosmont and Goathland
North York Moors

In a field by the side of the Rail Trail public footpath are some strange heaps of disfigured black rock. It is ironstone from the site of the nearby Murkside Mines, opened by the Victorians in the late 1850s.

The valuable ironstone was roasted in the open air to remove impurities and reduce its weight before transportation. But this pile probably got too hot, resulting in unusable lumps of fused ironstone and waste. Mistakes like this were expensive, ruining the iron inside the stone. The treasure was abandoned and left to the elements.

Sunday 15 January 2023
North Bridge on the Grosmont to Goathland Rail Trail
North York Moors

At the crossing of the Murk Esk river, the forces of nature and industry have often collided over the last two centuries. It’s clear from the peaceful surroundings that nature has prevailed, but as you cross the tumbling river you can still glimpse signs of the Victorian railway age that once shaped the Murk Esk valley.

The first carriages to run on the Whitby to Pickering railway line were horse-drawn, but plans to improve the service required new infrastructure. A substantial stone bridge was built here in 1845 to enable heavier steam engines to use the line. Unfortunately, the river periodically suffered damaging floods and the bridge was washed away – the walls and surviving abutments can still be seen.

The stone bridge was replaced by a timber one, however this was damaged in the devastating floods of the early 1930s. Lying horizontally by the side of the path are two of the steel-tipped, pointed posts that were originally driven into the river bed to support the structure. Ultimately, water proved to be the more powerful force. The river here has only been crossed by pedestrian footbridges ever since.

Saturday 14 January 2023
The Murk Esk river between Grosmont and Goathland
North York Moors

Don’t judge a river by its colour! Like most watercourses in the area, the Murk Esk catches water from large areas of moorland, resulting in its brown, peaty colour. Despite this, the water quality is generally very high, which makes it a significant habitat for wildlife.

Saturday 2 April 2022
Rosedale ironstone kilns above the Rosedale valley
North York Moors

This weathered stone giant was once at the heart of a sprawling industrial ironstone mining complex.

Rosedale’s East Mines began operation in 1864, and a year later the branch railway to Blakey Junction was completed.
Before ironstone was sent to the blast furnaces it was roasted in these huge kilns. This process removed impurities, enriched the iron content and reduced large lumps of ironstone to a suitable size for smelting. Discarding the waste also helped reduce transportation costs, which could account for as much as a third of the price of ore delivered to the blast furnaces.

Ironstone from the mines was tipped into the kilns from above. After the roasting process (called calcining), workers shifted the hot stone from the kilns into iron wagons using long, heavy metal rakes. It was gruelling work and the calcine men had one of the dirtiest and most unpleasant jobs on site.

The haunting ruins belie an almost unimaginable environment that persisted for sixty years. Thick smoke, noise from the kilns and nearby mines, the shouts of workers, and the relentless clatter and rattle of trains and carts all day long.

Thursday 20 January 2022
Ribblehead Viaduct, Ribblesdale
Yorkshire Dales

A silver plaque is attached to one side of the stone statue near the foot of the viaduct. The engraving depicts a 19th-century navvy shaking hands with a 20th-century engineer.

Construction of the viaduct began in late 1869 and needed a workforce of around 2300 men – mostly navvies who lived in shanty towns set up near its base. By the end of 1874 the last stone of the structure had been laid and the process had claimed the lives of over 100 men.

In November 1988 Ribblehead Viaduct was Grade 2 listed and the surrounding land where the remains of its construction camps are located has been recognised as a scheduled monument. Between 1990 and 1992 the viaduct underwent major restoration.

Wednesday 19 January 2022
The summit of Whernside, height 736 metres (2415 feet)
Yorkshire Dales

In the Yorkshire Dales, there are just seven mountains which are higher than 700 metres:

1️⃣ Whernside, 736 metres (2415 feet).
2️⃣ Ingleborough, 724 metres (2375 feet).
3️⃣ Great Shunner Fell, 716 metres (2349 feet).
4️⃣ High Seat, 709 metres (2326 feet).
5️⃣ Wild Boar Fell, 708 metres (2323 feet).
6️⃣ Great Whernside, 704 metres (2310 feet).
7️⃣ Buckden Pike, 702 metres (2303 feet).

Saturday 15 January 2022
Disused railway line above the Rosedale valley
North York Moors

The valley fog can’t escape Rosedale. The cold dense air keeps sinking down into the valley and condensing to form fog. I’m on higher ground where the air is warmer and lighter.

Sunday 28 November 2021
Easby Abbey, Easby, Richmondshire
Northern England

The tranquil ruins of the 12th-century Easby Abbey are only a mile away from Richmond town centre, and can be reached by scenic paths on both sides of the River Swale.

Saturday 27 November 2021
The River Swale waterfalls, Richmond town centre
Northern England

The River Swale is said to be England’s fastest flowing river. Sometimes golden brown in colour, particularly after heavy rainfall, because its waters have absorbed peat high up on the moorlands of the Yorkshire Dales.

Thursday 10 June 2021
Bellow Hill, Hardraw village centre
Yorkshire Dales

Time for a sit down at the end of a Wensleydale walk to Great Shunner Fell, Butter Tubs and Fossdale. This comfortable and beautifully carved wooden memorial bench with great views of the village makes the ideal resting spot.

Thursday 10 June 2021
West House, Simonstone, Hardraw
Yorkshire Dales

A peacock treats me to this wonderful display as I walk through the farm. The male birds grow their trains of iridescent feathers during the mating season, fanning them out and rattling them to attract a mate. Scientists in the US have used eye-tracking cameras to work out exactly what peahens find alluring in a peacock’s tail fan. Side-to-side eye movements suggested that females were gauging the fan’s width and that they were most interested in the striking eyespots on the feathers.

Thursday 10 June 2021
Cliff Gate Road between Hardraw and Thwaite
Yorkshire Dales

At Butter Tubs, over thousands of years, slightly acidic water has eaten away the 325-million-year-old carboniferous limestone rock to create these weird shafts with their distinctive fluted edges. Rainwater seeps into natural cracks (faults and joints) in the rock and over time the cracks have grown into the vertical shafts or potholes we see today. Some of the potholes are up to 24 metres deep and still growing as water continues to trickle into them.

Saturday 17 April 2021
Minor road north-west of Wescoe
Lake District

The trunk of an ancient tree. Look carefully and you’ll see a teddy wearing a green jumper. The road was lined with extremely old trees which appeared to be dead but were still sprouting young branches and twigs.

Saturday 17 April 2021
The Skiddaw mountain range
Lake District

Paragliders on the south-western flanks of the Skiddaw mountain range, about a mile south-east of Little Man. In the background is Keswick and Derwent Water.

Tuesday 6 April 2021
The Moors National Park Centre, Danby Lodge, Danby
North York Moors

A sunny day but windy and cold. Despite it being the beginning of April, I still need a coat and hat. There is a dusting of snow on some of the surrounding North York Moors hills.

Monday 5 April 2021
Muggleswick Park, County Durham
North Pennines

Stony Hill, looking like a moonscape because of the surrounding burnt heather. Managed heather burning normally takes place over the winter and in early spring when there are no birds nesting on the ground and the soil is generally wet.

Sunday 4 April 2021
Muggleswick Park, County Durham
North Pennines

The Three Curricks, with Derwent Reservoir in the background. A currick is a Cumbrian word for what is more commonly known as a cairn, a man-made pile of stones used to guide travellers.

Saturday 3 April 2021
Muggleswick Park, County Durham
North Pennines

The view north-west towards Derwent Reservoir, with the village of Edmundbyers on the left-hand side of the photograph. The reservoir was opened in 1967 and is one of the largest inland waters in England, capable of holding 11,000 million gallons.

Friday 2 April 2021
Whitehall Moss, County Durham
North Pennines

A lovely S-shaped seating area by the side of the Waskerley Way disused railway line, about a mile east of Smiddy Shaw Reservoir. Waskerley is just visible in the background, on the horizon on the far left of the picture.

Tuesday 30 March 2021
Sleightholme Dale, by the side of Hodge Beck near Penny Holme
North York Moors

Yellow skunk cabbage (Lysichiton americanus). Also known as western skunk cabbage, American skunk-cabbage or swamp lantern, the plant is found in swamps and wet woodlands alongside streams. It is called skunk cabbage because of the distinctive ‘skunky’ smell it emits when it flowers.

Monday 29 March 2021
The Esk Valley Railway between Commondale and Castleton
North York Moors

Steam locomotive 62005 passes by as I sit on a bench enjoying a coffee and taking in the views. LNER K1 62005 was designed by the London and North Eastern Railway, built by the North British Locomotive Company in their Queen’s Park Works, Glasgow, and delivered to the fledgling British Railways in June 1949.

Sunday 28 March 2021
Danby Park between Danby and Castleton
North York Moors

The silvery-white bark of the silver birch makes this tree one of the easiest to put a name to in winter, when there are no leaves to help with the identification process. In older trees the bark is thick and deeply fissured at the base, whilst higher up it is smooth and often develops a pattern of black diamond shapes.

Saturday 27 March 2021
Danby Park between Danby and Castleton
North York Moors

Silver birch (Betula pendula) woodland. Silver birch trees are slender, fast growing and reach a height of about 30 metres, forming a light, airy canopy.

Friday 26 March 2021
Danby Park between Danby and Castleton
North York Moors

Hoof fungus (Fomes fomentarius) growing on the stump of a silver birch tree. Other common names are tinder fungus, false tinder fungus, tinder conk, tinder polypore and ice man fungus. It is shaped like a horse’s hoof and grows mainly on birch trees, which it infects through the broken bark.


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