Rowan tree, Lonsdale Quarry

The striking red berries of the Rowan tree stand out against the drab Autumn colours of the moors. The Rowan or Mountain Ash has long been associated with superstition and folklore. In Greek myology the goddess of youth, Hebe, lost her cup of ambrosia, said to rejuvenate youth. It was stolen by demons and the gods sent an eagle to retrieve it. In its fight with the demons the eagle lost blood and where every drop fell to earth a rowan tree grew. In Norse mythology the first woman was made from the Rowan. In Britain the Rowan is supposed to give protection against witchcraft and evil spirits, often planted near houses and churches. Cutting down a Rowan tree is considered bad luck although a spoon made of the wood prevented milk from curdling and a piece of the wood would be carried as charm against evil and to cure rheumatism. But the wood would have to be cut to make the spoon.

Urra Moor

A drab misty start to the week with rain threatening. The boundary stones across Urra Moor probably mark the limit of the Feversham estate. Bilsdale below is only just visible.

Highcliff Nab

​From Bousdale Wood, near Pinchinthorp. A sandstone crag overlooking the town of Guisborough. On the northern edge of the North York Moors and a popular  climbing venue, first ‘discovered’ for climbing in the 1930s. There is a Mesolithic site just beyond the summit. The Nab must have made a fine lookout for the hunters over the wooded plain below.

Whorl Hill

At 237m above sea level Whorl Hill has the distinction of being the 1182nd tallest hill in England. Or so the tables say. It’s an outlier of the Cleveland Hills overlooking the deserted village of Whorlton. The plantation of larch that covers the hill was planted in 1953, the year of the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. On its eastern slopes the foresters planted the letter ‘ER’ in a strand of spruce. It’s more noticeable in the winter when the larch has dropped its needles although as the trees have matured the letters have become less observable. I remember seeing then ages ago but admit in recent years it’s probably wishful thinking.

Eston Moor

I went up Eston Nab today. Took thirty children from a local primary school to look at the remains of the ironstone mines and on up to the Nab. To discover their local heritage. I felt ashamed. So much litter. Everywhere piles of plastic bottles. I counted seven burnt out cars. The paths through the woods have been that used by off road vehicles they are now impassable. Talk about mud, mud, glorious mud.

And onto this there is a proposal to erect a memorial on the summit to the 372 miners who were killed in the mines during its 100 year history. Made of granite and sandstone and surrounded by a steel fence and with a flagpole, the monument will be 10 metres long by 2.85 metres high. It be built within the perimeter of the Iron Age hillfort.

Now I’ve no objection to a memorial. Indeed one would be laudable but in the right place. In Eston where the miners lived and it can be seen and appreciated by most people. Not high on the Nab where only a few will see. It will be a magnet for the graffiti artists and a giant litter bin. In a few years it will be trashed.


Blakey Topping

The story goes that a giant by the name of Wade had an argument with his wife and in a fit of temper he scooped by a handful of earth and threw it at her but missed creating  Blakey Topping in the process. And the hole left became the Hole of Horcum. Elgee writing in the 1930s recounts a variation where it is the devil, not a giant, throwing earth at a witch who had sold him her soul and was fleeing to escape the deal.

Blakey Topping lies on the edge of Dalby Forest It dominates the landscape and must have been hugely significant for man since prehistoric times. So it is perhaps not surprising that there are legend associated with it. An isolated hill, its shape is symmetrical; humpback from this angle, the south west, and conical from the south east. At its base, a Bronze Age settlement and stone circle.


Autumn is rapidly setting in. It’s going to be a good year for Autumn colours. Unless we have storms blowing the turning leaves off. Some bramble leaves are a deep red yet others are still green. Maybe different species. There are plenty of them. 320 at the last count. Off the main drag up to Capt. Cooks Monument on Easby Moor. Roseberry Topping framed by the gap in the dry stone wall.