Medusa

A local name for this ancient oak surviving in a split rock. The Woodland Trust records its girth as 6 metres. A trees girth is usually used as an estimate of a tree’s age. However when competing with other trees around a tree is likely to be taller with a narrower trunk. It is not know what the surrounding vegetation was like when the tree was in its prime but Medusa has been estimated to be at least 240 years old although I have read one report which gives a figure twice that. Nevertheless we can be sure that in 1777 this tree was at least a sapling, and George III was on the throne and Captain James Cook was on his third and final voyage.

Medusa map

Green Bank

The scarp of Busby Moor, lush with bracken broken by cliffs of soft cliffs. Viewed from the climb up Carlton Bank. Our lifeline during the 2001 foot and mouth epidemic, a rare patch of countryside remaining open to the public.

Green Bank map

Knolls End Promontory Fort

A promontory fort is an Iron Age hillfort that is located on a promontory of land so that the steep scarp slopes form the natural defences of the fort. They are quite rare with only about one hundred recorded frequently on coastal headlands. They are thought to be high status permanent settlements sited for display as well as defence. Knolls End Promontory Fort is at the west end of Live Moor and the most obvious feature is the rampart and ditch across the neck of the spur including a gap for an entrance. The earthworks are accentuated at this time of the year by the lush growth of bilberries. Knolls End was first identified from aerial photographs in the 1970s and to date is unexcavated. The long distance footpath The Cleveland Way cuts through the site but few walkers are aware of its existence.

Knolls End Promontory Fort map

Frenchmen’s Cove

This stretch of the Durham Coast south of Seaham was once an industrial eyesore. At Nose’s Point in the distance stood Dawdon colliery where for 84 years coal was mined from deep below the North Sea and the waste spoil dumped back into the sea offshore. The result was a total devastation of the coast and marine life. The far end of the bay below  Nose’s Point had already been named Blast Beach on account of the blast furnaces built in 1862 to produce pig iron from ironstone from the Cleveland Hills, coal from Seaham and the local limestone. Although this venture was short-lived the name stuck and the original name of Frenchmen’s Cove, possibly because of smuggling of French brandy, was regulated to the southern half of the bay.

Much effort has made to clean the beach up although the sea regularly exposes evidence of the past activity. The magnesium limestone cliffs above provide a lime rich grassland with unique flora and is now under the guardianship of the National Trust.

The beach was used as a location for the 1992 science fiction film Alien 3. Here is a clip

Fishermen's Cove map

Lawns Hill

An overcast Summer Solstice with heavy rain this morning but the sun finally dropped below the clouds on setting. View from Greenhow Avenue.

Lawns Hill map

The Esk Valley at Castleton

Looking down Canting Hill from High Castleton. The Danby Court Leet is a manorial court having medieval origins. It is responsible for the Common Land of the Manor of Danby. This is the moorland, village greens, garths, enclosures and roadside verges. The Court is composed of a Jury of thirteen local men with an elected Foreman. One of their roles is to keep a Register of Common Rights which records residents Common Rights on the Common Land such as turbary (the right to cut peat) and grazing rights.

The Esk Valley at Castleton map

Barn, Weighill’s Plantation

This barn has always intrigued me. So big it’s almost out of context. Above Bilsdale Hall. The pines beyond are the last remnants of Weighill’s Plantation probably named after John Weighill who, in the 1901 census was living in Bilsdale Hall, aged 61. And in the distance is Garfit Gap, the col between Hasty Bank and Cold Moor.

Barn, Weighills Plantation map